Meet One Tribe

Melissa Griffin

Melissa Griffin has expressed herself with music since the 4th grade, when she studied piano with a teacher who had a turtle named “Yertle.” She went on to play trumpet and baritone in the school band but always had an interest in playing drums.

In 2007, the time was right and Melissa started banging on buckets and playing with shakers around the campfire of Raleigh’s Sacred Fire Community. It wasn’t long before she discovered the Raleigh Drum Circle and then the rhythms of West Africa. She’s been blessed to study with Greg Whitt, Ronnie Pulley, Bountourabi Leftwich, Khalid Saleem, and Nansady Keita, to name a few, plus the talented instructors at the annual West African Drum and Dance Camp in the NC mountains. In May 2011 she attended classes with Mamady Keita & Famoudou Konate during the Grandmasters Tour in Atlanta, and in February 2012 the Drum Circle Facilitator’s Guild (DCFG) conference.

You’ll find Melissa and her husband Tony at most Raleigh Drum Circle gatherings including the weekly Hoop Jam. Melissa is a marketing consultant for small businesses and created our website.

Tony Griffin

Tony Griffin has always “banged on things” (coffee cans, ottomans, dashboards, school desks, plastic buckets, etc.), but it wasn’t until 2007 that he actually bought his first drum. Never having been to a drum circle and wanting a drum of his own, he was for some reason drawn to a particular craigslist ad. It turned out that ad was posted by the founder of the Raleigh Drum Circle (RDC), Greg Whitt. A relationship was formed that changed Tony’s interests and would shape his drumming future.

Tony likes to work with his hands. By mid-2007, Tony had already taught himself how to rehead drums and took on a few such projects for the RDC as well as his own drums. In 2008, he became a board member for RDC and increased his involvement with its activities, including coordinating the entertainment for the annual RDC Birthday Bash. In 2009, Tony launched a side-line business called that offers drum reheading and other drum related accessories to the Raleigh area drumming community. He also helped start the Wednesday night Hoop Jam in Pullen Park and continued to support Greg with other RDC events. That same year, his focus moved from jamming to study of West African rhythms, beginning with the Kumandi African Drum and Dance Camp in Little Switzerland, NC. It was at that drum camp that Tony would meet his mentors, Tom Harris and Robin Leftwich. Both are accomplished drum builders and drummers. His on-going study of West African rhythms continued in 2010 with Ronnie Pulley and Khalid Saleem, to name a few. In May 2011 he studied with Mamady Keita & Famoudou Konate during the Grandmasters Tour in Atlanta. Tony attended the 2012 Drum Circle Facilitator’s Guild (DCFG) conference in Myrtle Beach.

Tony leads the drumming at the Wednesday jam sessions as well as a monthly Fire & Drum Show at Raleigh’s First Friday art walk. He has been a part of several drum reheading workshops with both Tom and Robin. To date he has made/sold over 600 drumsticks for use with African dununs.

Lorrie Houze

Lorrie Houze has a lifelong love of music. In 2011, she attended the Raleigh Hoop Jam at Pullen Park and fell in love with the drumming.

She has since studied Drum Circle Facilitation Leadership training with Jim Donovan, receiving certificates in Sound Empowerment and Level 1 Drum Circle Facilitation Leadership. She has studied the djembe with Master teachers from West Africa including Aly Camara, Fode Camara and Mohamad DeCosta at Kumandi African Drum and Dance Camp. Local teachers include Ronnie Pulley and Robin Leftwich.

Lorrie works as a Physical Therapist Assistant specializing in Senior Health and Wellness. Recently, Lorrie has been enjoying facilitating events in Senior Living Environments in the Raleigh NC area through her business, Drumming For Your Life.

Ken Wierzbicki

A never-ending rhythm going through air is what has brought Ken Wierzbicki to join One Tribe. After playing a drum kit in his youth (as fast and loud as possible), Ken has found his solace in finding the root of the drum through traditional tribal rhythms.

Born in Buffalo NY, Ken has found his home in the Raleigh area. After laying a foundation and not playing for over 4 years, something seemed to be missing in his life….it was the drum! So the search was on to find the outlet needed to fill the empty void. Looking online, the Raleigh Drum Circle was found. After meeting Greg Whitt it was a lock that this was the answer. Next thing you know, events were popping up everywhere and so were so many great people to add to it. Through these connections One Tribe was born. Being blessed with great friends and a passion for drumming has lead Ken home and there he wants to share what he loves with anyone willing to listen.