Originally from the Mount Weather in Virginia, Dawn Drake is an active musician in NYC’s eclectic music scene. She is a percussionist, bass player, singer and composer/songwriter who leads the band ZapOte, a “Tropical Pop” ensemble which breaks down cultural barriers incorporating everything from Mountain Funk to Cuban Timba and Brazilian samba into a soul-shaking mix with her original lyrics that focus on love, empathy, environmental, economic, racial, gender and social justice themes and above all: unity. She studied percussion first in Ghana, then went on to pursue Afro-Cuban batá and conga drumming in Cuba and in NYC, as well as samba percussion in Brazil. She holds a Masters degree in Ethnomusicology and an MFA in Composition and Performance from California Institute of the Arts. Currently, in addition to directing her band ZapOte, she also plays bass and congas with artists from around the globe. She is a Professor of Caribbean Music at John Jay College as well as a teaching artist and performer for the US Embassy, NYC public schools and Brooklyn Arts Council focusing on programs that celebrate diversity, global rhythm, youth and women’s empowerment through music.
Dawn Drake has performed at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the Frauenstimmen Festival in Switzerland, The Belize International Jazz Festival, The US State Department’s Arts Envoy in Belize, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Concert Series, Riverview Jazz Concert Series and many others. She released an album called Nightshade on November 1st, 2019 and performed at “Art, Culture and Transforming Conflict” sponsored by the US State Department in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the end of 2019. In 2020, Dawn kept very busy with online shows and outdoor music festivals. She also spearheaded the pandemic “Black Lives Matter Prospect Heights Community Jam” in Brooklyn. Her album Nightshade was part of the first round of Grammy submissions in the category of Best Global Music Album in Fall 2020 and she has just finished the new single and video entitled "Corona King”, now being premiered to select audiences, which chronicles a failed pandemic romance.