Deion Blackman isn't exactly the Little Drummer Boy - he's a beat boxer and he's not so little anymore. But like Little Drummer Boy, from the same titled Christmas song, Deion can certainly hold a beat and he does it without a drum.
I met this young man from Cold Lake First Nation a few years ago in a course I was taking at the University of Alberta. He was 19 or 20 and his father and I were friends already, having met through the Circle for Aboriginal Relations.
Deion’s father, James, told me his son was a very talented beat boxer. I actually had no clue what he was talking about back then, since I’ve never been involved with hip hop music. Turns out, beat boxing is the ability to mimic percussion instruments using one's mouth, lips, tongue and voice (Thanks Wikipedia!).
Last winter, while Deion was campaigning for a spot on the Cold Lake First Nation council, I joined him and his father, along with a few other friends and family for a supper at a hotel restaurant. We were the only customers in the restaurant that evening, so I decided to put Deion's talents to the test. While I sang a slow ballad, Deion provided the background percussions, adjusting the sounds to the tempo and mood on the fly. It was incredible!
Fast forward to this summer when I was trying to explain to Chris Burke-Gaffney and Vince Fontaine - my partners in musical crime - my vision for including Deion in the song, O Holy Night. Chris smartly suggested we switch to Winter Wonderland to get the most out of the kid and the rest was history.
We are all very pleased with Deion’s contribution to this piece, and he has expanded his musical circle through Brendan Lyons, our Edmonton studio and engineer. Get a taste of Deion's talent by playing the audio below or visit Sandra's Store to hear his beat in Winter Wonderland on the Aurora 12 album.