Susu Pampanin is a dynamic percussionist of exceptional strength and sensitivity.
Daughter of prominent San Francisco belly dancer, Amina Goodyear, she was surrounded by Arabic music since before she could walk or talk. At age 12, her mother suggested that she learn the drum and her obsession with drumming began. She studied under master drummers, Vince Delgado, George Dabai, Yousef Mustafa El Effendi, and Nagib Al Bahri; honing her skills by accompanying her mother’s dance classes, rehearsals, and performances with her dance troupe, the Aswan Dancers.
Her progress was rapid, and by age 13, she had cultivated such proficiency that she was invited to sit in and perform with Arabic bands throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Highlights of her early career were performing and recording with Jazayer, the band led by her master teacher, Vince Delgado, and Blue Nile, where she got her first opportunity to play and led a percussion section.
Her studies eventually expanded to include western percussion, North African, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian traditions. Chalo Eduardo’s Escola Nova de Samba and Carolyn Brandy’s Sistah Boom were popular samba schools that regularly performed in large street festivals and carnival events. The performance opportunities that she experienced in both groups as a student and performing member, were instrumental in her development.
In the years that followed, Susu cultivated and expanded her foundational knowledge of the Arabic musical repertoire. Having earned the respect of the Arab community, she performed regularly in various musical ensembles for celebrations such as Arab weddings, festivals, concerts, and cultural events. She continued performing and touring with other world music groups, which led to an invitation by Mickey Hart to perform with him on his Planet Drum tour.
Susu's talent and passion for percussion and rhythm enabled her to create an innovative style and sound, uniquely her own. In 1991, ‘Susu and The Cairo Cats, Dancing Drums, Live at the Giza Club’ was released. The recording featured her drum compositions and drum solos. Through this work, she became known internationally for her virtuosity in Arabic drumming.
Within the bellydance community she is especially recognized for her skills in collaborating with bellydancers and troupes, teaching and performing at many festivals and shows.
Her love of Arabic music, along with her quest to continue to improve her musical knowledge and drumming skills have inspired numerous trips to North Africa and the Middle East, over the years. In 2013, she went to Egypt to record, Nostalgia, Susu Pampanin and the Cairo Cats with Safaa Farid. More recently, in January of 2020 she returned to Egypt to record with Reda Henkish on the collaborative release, Reda Henkesh Live with Susu Pampanin.
Currently Susu enjoys performing in live concert venues while continuing to explore music theory and maqam through the study of melodic instruments, oud and nay. She is working on an exciting new recording project and looks forward to releasing it in the near future.