The drummer bus driver who made his own instrument out of animal skin from the butcher’s shop

Lacina “Lass” Diabate is originally from Bouaké, Ivory Coast, but is now a bus driver living in Sunderland and has been driving for Stagecoach since 2006.

Lass came to the UK in 2002 and has been playing drums for many years.

He will use his £500 grant to help develop the workshops he runs from home. Lass, 46, leads djembe and dundun sessions as well as African folk dance. He also runs a community-based voluntary organization called African Societal Artistique of Sunderland.

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Drum bus driver Lass Diabate has won a £500 scholarship to help run drum workshops. Photo by Stu Norton.

Lass plans to hold an outdoor event in Barnes Park, where he hopes to discover new talent and show off his own skills on a dundun he made himself.

He said: “I actually went to the butcher shop and asked him for a cowhide. I think he thought I was going to eat it.

“Then I salvaged a small barrel of oil from the junkyard. The rest came from B&Q. I watched YouTube for tips on how to make the barrel.

“The passion for drums came from where I grew up; especially my grandmother’s cousin who played. I still have that image of him in my head.

Lass Diabate has won a £500 grant to help organize drumming workshops. Photo by Stu Norton.

“The New Encounters scholarship will allow me to lead drumming workshops in the local community. If possible, I would like to organize a small-scale performance to showcase the skills developed by my groups.

The grants were launched earlier in 2021 to support performers from ethnically diverse communities in Sunderland. They are the result of over a year of research by Sunderland Culture and Sunderland Black and Minority Network (SBMEN).

The research mapped the diversity of artists in Sunderland and found many groups and individuals struggling to realize their creative ambitions, due to insufficient resources, funding and support.

The other two artists to receive a £500 scholarship are Maya Dhananjay and Stephen Elms.

Form left, drummer Lacina ‘Lass’ Diabate, dance teacher Maya Dhananjay, performance manager at Sunderland Culture Helen Green and rapper and songwriter Stephen Elms.

Maya is currently studying a Masters in Event Management at the University of Sunderland and teaches traditional Indian dance.

Stephen is a rapper and songwriter whose duo, He Knows She Knows, appeared on X-Factor in 2016. He will use his scholarship to write music about people’s experiences of confinement.

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