Sarah Thawer, 2021 Finalist

Sarah Thawer is a JUNO Award nominated drummer and recording artist based in Toronto. She started playing drums aged 2 and performing at 5. Sarah is currently performing, recording and touring the world with different artists as well as performing solo and with her own band. She plays a range of genres including, jazz, fusion, Indian, funk, r&b, hip hop, and latin. Sarah studied jazz and world music at York University. A recipient of the Oscar Peterson Scholarship she graduated with the Summa Cum Laude distinction.

Learn more about jazz drummer and 2021 finalist Sarah Thawer below.

You are a self-taught drummer who started performing at the age of 2. How did you discover you loved drumming so early?

Drumming and music have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I always say that the drums chose me; I never consciously decided to play the drums, I was always just playing them. I didn’t notice that I had any sort of talent, I thought everybody loved the drums as much as I did, I thought it was normal. Until I started realizing that my twin sister, Farah had absolutely no interest in the drums! I lived and breathed music, it was and is a part of my being. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by without music in my life. My dad’s a musician (plays keys) and he would babysit Farah and myself on the drums, percussion, microphones, pianos and any instrument that he could find. Every night we would jam for hours from such a young age. Here’s a link from one of our jam sessions at about age 3:

You play a variety of different styles. Tell us about why you decided to study jazz?

I love to play all styles of music. When I was a kid (being a millennial), at that time we had access to tapes and CD players. Whatever my dad brought home and his rehearsals with his band was the only music I had access to. That music was primarily Indian (classical, semi classical, folk, ghazal, bhajan, etc) and Bollywood music. For me music was just music, I never classified it into genres and I listened to it without judgement. Bollywood music especially encompasses so many genres of music. Without labelling each genre/sub-genre I not-knowingly fell in love with so many styles. On the plus side, growing up in Toronto we are forced to immerse ourselves into so many styles of music since the music scene here is incredibly diverse! The reason I decided to study jazz was because I loved the art form. I loved the art of improvisation. I recently found this journal of mine when I was 12 years old, and I wrote that I love jazz and I was listening to Oscar Peterson on Jazz FM 91. That blew my mind and reminded me that I’ve loved it since then. In high school and junior high I was the drummer for all of the jazz bands, won awards and we competed at prestigious festivals. I decided to study jazz in university because I wanted to deepen my understanding of jazz and improve my playing.

You have a huge presence on YouTube with some videos of you performing getting over 300,000 views. How has the digital medium affected your work?

Social media has created opportunities for me abroad while living in Toronto. To be honest I find myself least active on YouTube and much more active in regards to followers and engagement on my Instagram and Facebook page. (and I just got TikTok which I am excited to dive into!) I have gotten to connect with my heroes and have been on many international tours and gigs because of artists/musicians who have seen my work and videos online.

What would you say to inspire other women who have a passion for drumming?

I would say go for it, with all of your heart and with your authentic and beautiful self! ❤

How does it feel to be nominated for the Emerging Jazz Artist Award?

It feels extremely and beyond amazing, incredible, exciting, and a dream come true for me!!!!!!!! I am so honoured.