Today's Bright Leader is Nandi Bushell 🥁 Nandi was born in Durban, South Africa, her mother Lungile is from KwaZulu-Natal, and her father John is British. When her dad showed her a video for The Beatles' "Hey Jude", Bushell was fascinated by Ringo Starr's performance and showed an interest in playing the drums. As a reward for good grades at school, her parents bought Nandi her first drum set.
Bushell began taking lessons with a local drum teacher at age 6. With her dad's help, Bushell began posting her covers of different songs to social media, and attending jam sessions at a local pub where she played with adult musicians as part of the Ipswich Rock Project. 🎶
Questlove saw one of her videos & sent her a custom child-sized drum kit. Her cover of "Use Me" caught the attention of Anderson .Paak, & Lenny Kravitz invited Bushell to meet and accompany him during a sound check at The O2 Arena while on tour in June 2019. 🎤 Kravitz and drummer Nate Smith later sent Bushell a custom drum kit as well!✨ Dave Grohl saw Nandi's drum cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom" when it went viral in November 2019, and was amazed by her "joy and energy". In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bushell uploaded a cover of "Everlong" by Foo Fighters and challenged Grohl to a drum-off, calling him her favorite drummer. He responded by drumming along with "Dead End Friends" by his supergroup Them Crooked Vultures to return the challenge. After Nandi posted a video drumming to the same song, Grohl conceded defeat & performed an original song inspired by Bushell! She responded by writing and recording a song dedicated to Grohl. They met in person for the first time in August 2021 at The Forum in California, where Grohl introduced his "arch nemesis" 😂 on drums to perform "Everlong" and close the sold-out show.
In addition to drums, Bushell plays lead and bass guitar 🎸 and piano 🎹; her videos include covers of rock songs in which she performs ALL parts using both video synchronization and a loop station. She also plays saxophone, including for her covers of songs by Bill Withers and John Coltrane.
Bushell has written and recorded an EP 💽, Into the Abyss, and performs all parts; its first single, "The Shadows", was released in September 2022. Bushell said she wrote it to help her father and others going through depression. Gen Handley of Spin magazine called the song "incredibly moving and mature".
📺 Cartoon Network named Bushell their first official musician-in-residence in February 2021, & she was featured on the cover of the June 2021 issue of Modern Drummer, the magazine's youngest cover artist to date. In February 2022, Drumeo presented her with their inaugural Tony Williams award for her "infectious energy and passion [that] encourages and inspires people to get excited about drumming and about music". During the 7 October 2022 episode of Blue Peter, Bushell was awarded the Gold badge for her musical achievements and for "raising awareness about inequality". The Gold badge is the programs highest honor, past winners include Ed Sheeran, Madonna, and 👑 Queen Elizabeth II.