private and group music lessons

Bonnie Johnson


In 20 years as a professional drummer, Bonnie Johnson has garnered an impressive list of credentials.  . By age 10, Bonnie was self-taught on guitar and sang in duos, trios and choirs throughout her early school years.  Later, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, her career as a drummer began in earnest.

 Additionally, she has appeared on television and radio and has toured Europe and the U.S. extensively.  Her playing can be heard on 16 albums and for the past 12 years, her reputation as an instructor – private as well as in a classroom situation – is well established.  Known for her solid time-keeping, extraordinary taste and versatility, she is highly respected as a consummate player and band leader.

After 15 years as a successful freelance musician in the Bay Area coupled with an intense desire to be immersed in the jazz idiom, Bonnie moved to the East coast.  At this time she matriculated in Jazz Studies at the University of Hartford symphony, Alexander Lepak.  Moving to NY, she then went on to receive her M.A. in Jazz Performance at Queens College.  Additionally, Bonnie was the drummer in Mr. Heath’s big band for her entire 2 years at Queens.

In her 6 years on the East Coast, Bonnie has not only studied extensively but her reputation as a jazz drummer is well-established with performances at the Blue notes, weekly gigs in the village clubs and  recent recording sessions that included Elivin Jone’s bassist, Chip Jackson, she shared the drum duties with Pat Metheny alumnus, Danny Gottlieb.

She has performed and recorded in numerous and varied musical settings with top-notch players.  Her roots are steeped in Rhythm & Blues backing dynamic personalities.  An original funk group known as SWEET CHARIOT which she co-founded with singer Sharon Russell was a huge success during the late 70’s often appearing in concert halls with the likes of the Quincy jones orchestra and the late Marvin Gaye.  Bonnie also toured extensively with singer Linda Tillery who is currently a member of Bobby McFerrin’s VOICESTRA.  Vicki Randle, the percussionist in Branford Marsalis’ Tonight Show band is in actuality a remarkable vocalist/songwriter and Bonnie was her steady drummer before relocating to the Los Angeles area.  Bonnie’s theatre experience includes shows with the Tony award winning San Francisco Mime Troupe, Sam Shephard’s Pecos Bill and the American Music Theatre Group.

As a founding member of the Latin Jazz sextet CHEVERE, Bonnie honed her skills as a percussionist, performing on congas, timbales and assorted Afro-Cuban and Brazilian hand instruments.  Among this group’s achievements is a successful U.S. tour and a week’s stint at San Francisco’s premier jazz club, the Keystone Korner, when an ailing Tito Puente had to cancel.  Other members of this fiery ensemble have gone on to gigs with Sergio Mendes, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and recording sessions produced by Bill Cosby.