folx Percussion is a percussion group created by its founders Kendall Rhymer and McKenzie Squires. Their mission is to create a safe and positive environment for an all female and non-binary percussionist group where its members are free to create music and explore the unconventional.
Our goal is to create an environment through percussion performance that is conscious of percussionists impact on the physical, emotional, and social world around us.
folx is plural, pronounced like “folks”
Kendall (she/they) and McKenzie (they/she) met during their undergraduate studies where they worked with Adam Groh and Diana Loomer at Western Carolina University. Their love for performing in percussion ensembles and chamber groups started during the pandemic when they attended So Percussion’s Summer Institute via zoom. Here they found an environment that allowed them to express themselves how they wanted to without judgment. This environment fostered conversations about what it is like to be a womxn in the percussion field. After SoSI, the idea that they should take their passion and love for playing with one another and create a space for people like them to do the same originated.
We took our time during the pandemic and our first year of graduate school in different parts of the US to create and brainstorm what folx Percussion would look like. Now we are ready to introduce folx to the world. Our goal is to create an environment through percussion performance that is conscious of percussionists impact on the physical, emotional, and social world around us.
The name folx Percussion was the result of a brainstorming session at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020 before the term folx became a popular label used for inclusivity of all kinds of people. Folks is a phrase used daily for both Kendall and McKenzie because of their roots in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. The ‘x’ at the end was meant as a call-back to their many conversations about founding a percussion duo over moonshine- a staple drink in NC commonly represented through images of an ‘x’. It is a happy accident that we chose to spell folks with an x instead of a ‘ks’ and that this term has come to embody what we want our ensemble to embody.
Kendall Rhymer (she/her/hers, they/them/theirs) is currently earning her master’s degree at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. She received her B.A. in Music as well as Philosophy and Religion at Western Carolina University. She is an active member of folx percussion as well as her university ensembles.
During her time as a student, she has had the opportunity to perform with groups such as Sō Percussion, Western Carolina University’s Wind Ensemble, and the Truman Steel Ensemble. She has had the opportunity to perform at the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference in 2022 as well as participate in premiere pieces from Everybody Hits Consortium.
Kendall is passionate about performing and commissioning new works that explore interdisciplinary relationships between music and other art forms. She also committed to performing works by historically underrepresented voices and advocating for important social justice issues. This advocacy includes exploring the cultural significance and history of percussion instruments, and how music can open dialogue about climate change advocacy, anti-racism work, women’s rights, trans-rights, lgbtqia+ rights, and community engagement. She hopes her work will help the percussion world move towards a more inclusive, diverse, sustainable, and welcoming place.
Current projects for Kendall include developing a drum and percussion curriculum for pre-K-8th grade private students and supplemental activities and music for middle school band students. She is working on developing a book of etudes for middle school and beginning mallet percussion students. She just performed her master’s recital in April and is about to graduate. Her work with folx Percussion focuses on creating safe and equitable spaces for musicians who typically feel ostracized in conventional performance spaces.
McKenzie Squires is a percussionist with a passion for world music, research, composition and most importantly performing with fellow musicians. She recently earned her Masters Degree in Percussion Studies at New York University in New York City, NY. She was an adjunct percussion instructor through NYU and currently teaches percussionists around the US via Zoom. In her free time she obsessively practices solo glockenspiel pieces, researches the history of the music that she is playing from minimalism to Pan to Gyil, and produces content for Instagram. Occasionally she can be found composing electronic music from sound bites and pre-recorded materials.
She is a founding member of folx Percussion. She is an intern for Sō Percussion, the Network for Diversity in Concert Percussion as well as an Assistant Arts Administrator for Emily Motherwell at Colbert Artist Management/OtherArts.
McKenzie can be seen in Harlem playing djembe and gyil, Brooklyn with Sō Percussion and Pan in Motion Steel Orchestra, in Manhattan with Sandbox Percussion or traveling to nearby states to perform at theaters, Bang on a Can, and art galleries!
Sachi Gullbrants is a Brooklyn-based percussionist and arts administrator originally from Las Vegas, NV. She recently graduated from Northwestern University with a dual degree in Percussion Performance and English as a Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude scholar. During her time at Northwestern, Sachi studied under teachers She-e Wu, Chris Lamb, Ed Stephan, and Vadim Karpinos. In 2018, Sachi was a finalist in the Collegiate/Open Division of the Great Plains International Marimba Competition. In addition to the recognition she has received as a soloist, Sachi also excels in chamber music and has performed as a winner of the International Percussion Ensemble Competition at PASIC. Outside of classical playing, Sachi is passionate about musical theatre and has played in many pits for musicals and operas.
Beyond being a seasoned performer, Sachi is an experienced arts administrator and has worked at performing arts centers, musique festivals, and concert venues around the country including Music Academy of the West, The Kennedy Center, The Smith Center, and Evanston SPACE.
In her free time, Sachi enjoys singing and making arrangements of her favorite songs using her guitar, ukulele, piano, violin, and mandolin.
Shelby Blezinger-McCay is a percussionist, drummer, music educator, and organizer. Balancing a full freelance schedule in musical theater, contemporary chamber music, and pop/rock/folk scenes, Shelby brings virtuosic musical skills, expertise in a wide range of musical genres, and a keen understanding of collaboration and social dynamics to every performance.
She is currently a percussion substitute for multiple Broadway productions, including SIX and Aladdin, was a percussion sub for the 22-23 Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and originated the percussion chair for the world premiere of Other World: A New Musical. Additionally, her contemporary music trio, Troika, performs throughout the year.
She has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s/54 Below, The Green Room 42, the United Palace, Rockwood Music Hall, The Cutting Room, City Winery NYC, and many other venues. Recent performances and collaborations include concerts with Katie Harman, Judy Kaye, Travis Moser, Ashley Arnold, Lavon Fisher Wilson, Larry Owens, Melissa Rich, New Heights Brass Band, Sō Percussion, and the Skiffle (Bunch) Steel Orchestra. International performances include concerts in Trinidad and Tobago, Germany, Poland, and China.
Shelby currently serves her local community as an educator with the Brooklyn New School Band and Trevor Day School, sharing the concepts of creative music making in the vast soundscape of the percussion world and its history. She has worked with hundreds of percussionists and composers as the program coordinator for the Sō Percussion Summer Institute from 2018-2022, organizing and directing multiple performances, commissions, and world premieres for a vast range of young musicians.
Shelby Blezinger-McCay has a master’s degree in Percussion Performance from the University of North Texas and a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Auburn University. Originally from Texas, raised in a family of noisy percussionists, she lives in New York City with her husband, Seth, and pittie-mix, Pascal.
Abigail Rodriguez, from Brooklyn, NY, is a junior in the Steinhardt program majoring in percussion performance. During her studies at NYU, Abigail was offered and accepted several gig opportunities in different locations such as SOB’s (Sound of Brazil), The Bitter End, HiFi, Rockwood, Pianos, The Cutting Room, Nublu, and Tisch New Theatre (TNT) productions of Amélie, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, etc.
Pei Hsien Lu, a percussionist and timpanist from Taiwan. Currently an Artist Diploma student, studying under Prof. Jonathan Haas at the New York University Steinhardt. She finished her Master Degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, studied under Prof. Matthew McKay. And she finished her undergraduate studies under Dr. Jonathan Fox in the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore. Prior to this, she graduated from Taiwan National Wu Ling High School’s music education program.
Her musical journey began at the age of 4 on piano, subsequently percussion at 8 years old, to which both of them remained her majors until she graduated from junior high school at 15. Afterwards, percussion became her only pursuit to this day.
During these years, she has accumulated experience performing across different groups. Her orchestra experiences include playing with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Taipei Symphony Philharmonic Orchestra and more. She joined the Round top Music Summer Festival in Taxes in 2022. She also performs regularly with the Conservatory Percussion Ensemble, a highlight of which was the trip in 2017 to Kuching, Malaysia, where she performed both solo and ensemble works under “Sing! Percussion” which “captured hearts in a captivating performance.” (Borneo News, 2017). Besides percussion, she still play the piano. In 2018, She joined the Thailand International Percussion Competition; chamber group. Her trio won the first prize of the competition which she was played the piano.
Alongside her performance experiences, she also had a lot of chances to have master class with famous percussionists like Will Hudgins, Daniel Bauch, Matt Howard, Joseph Pereira, Pius Cheung, Eriko Daimo, Mark Ford, Raymond Curfs, Michael Vladar, Eric Sammut, Colin Currie and more.
Connect with folx:
folx facebook and instagram and website
Squires facebook and instagram and website
Rhymer facebook and instagram and website
Gulbrants Facebook and Instagram
Rodriguez Facebook and Instagram