Biography & Background

In his many years of studying, performing, and teaching percussion, Kim Atkinson has developed a deeply insightful approach to his art. As a college student in 1973, Kim began drumming and exploring the mysteries of sound and rhythm and its effect on the human body, mind and spirit. He followed a transformative path integrating many musical, cultural, and spiritual traditions including African music and dance, Cuban and Brazilian folklore, experimental music, Latin jazz, self inquiry, dance accompaniment and group facilitation. He gained insights from the natural sciences, psychology of perception, and Yoruba, Buddhist, Vedic and Taoist ideas of consciousness and reality. Kim’s ability to integrate such a rich heritage has led him to a unique and profound approach to music and people, which he successfully transmits.

Kim’s interest in the metaphysical aspects of sound and healing lead him to study the physics of music, alternative medicine, consciousness and Brazilian shamanism. From 1984 to 1994 he was the drum/song leader for a unique temple in Berkeley CA fusing Brazilian Umbanda trance rituals with Tibetan Buddhism. This profound education in spiritual work, combined with his Kriya Yoga initiation in 2001 and SoulWave Leadership and Practitioner trainings (2004 to 2006) inform everything he does.

Kim’s teaching experience dates from 1975, when Augustus Olatunji Vidal of Nigeria empowered him to teach the African Music Workshop at Sonoma State College in Rohnert Park, California. Since that promising beginning, he has taught percussion nationwide, helping students of all ages, skill, background and ability gain facility with percussion and an appreciation of the rich cultural heritages which support it. Kim has developed his own unique and creative teaching programs which stimulate and challenge participants to explore time, rhythm and melody. He encourages students to develop and perfect their rhythmic skills with spoken rhythm, coordination of the body and awareness of subtle vibrations. His natural leadership qualities and communication skills make him easy to learn from.

Kim has been called a master facilitator. He has an innate ability to sense the needs and desires of a group and help them achieve their goals. He has presented to many professional organizations, and conducted rhythm based events for Neurolinguistic Programming, Dan Millman’s Peaceful Warrior Training, Fortune 500 executives and other businesses. In 2007 Kim created and presented “Sounding the Spirit of the the Dream” a drum and gong participatory evening for 80 people at the 24th Annual Conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams.

Kim creates excellent rhythm educational media, distributed and appreciated throughout the world. His first project, “Mozambique!” Vol.1 received a rare 5 star review from the respected publication Modern Drummer magazine and was also well received by the Journal of the Percussive Arts Society. His other educational releases include Mozambique Vol. 2 DVD, audio CD lessons “Clave Consciousness” Vol. 1 and 2, covering several of the key patterns in African influenced music, and “Speaking of Rhythm” Vol.1 through 6, a comprehensive exploration of African diaspora music, as it exists in America today.

As a professional percussionist, Kim has worked with Master musicians and Dancers from the US, Africa, the Caribbean and Brazil since 1976. He has performed at such prestigious venues as the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Brazilian Grand Carnaval Balls, Stern Grove Summer Music Festival and Harrah’s Club in Reno, Nevada. In 2004, Kim performed and facilitated with Micky Hart’s “Planet Drum” holding the groove for over 4000 drummers. This is now the Guinness World Record for the most people playing the same song.

Currently, Kim teaches young children the wonders of Body Rhythm, teaches high school students World Percussion music, accompanies poets and kirtan singers, leads his own Brazilian style parade group, does freelance percussion work, teaches West African Music, takes people on vision quests to Havasupai AZ, and is learning to play new instruments, including acoustic guitar and the most challenging drum in the world : East Indian Tabla.