Meet Keith Terry: Even During COVID, The Beat Goes On

SFBC board member Dean Ebesu spoke with Keith Terry, founder of Crosspulse and the International Body Music Festival. Keith has led several fantastic workshops at our annual Many Voices, One Art Choral Festival. Learn about Keith’s musical background and history, his sense of adventure and love of travel, and how he’s staying hopeful during this time of COVID. 

Register here for Keith’s workshops on Saturdays Feb. 6, 13 and 20, 2021!

Keith Terry

Photo: Paul Haggard

Keith Terry was one of those kids who “banged on anything,” and started learning percussion at the age of three. He started playing in Dallas night clubs while in middle school in the 1960s, supported by parents who drove him to his gigs.  He continued his musical education in New York City, where he played in jazz clubs and off-Broadway shows. Keith discovered “world music,” and the Javanese Gamelan in particular, while visiting the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts in Berkeley, becoming fascinated with Balinese and Sundanese music, as well as musical arts from India.

Keith performed as a drummer with jazz tap dancers in the late 1970s, working with legends such as Gregory Hines, Eddie Brown, Charles “Cookie” Cook, and Jimmy Slyde. That experience led him to discover the relationship between movement and sound, and it’s fun to watch him as he thinks fondly of those formative times. He started moving while drumming, and has been doing body movement ever since.  

In 1980 Keith started Crosspulse, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to body music and movement. Ten years later, he created the “Body Tjak,” an international collaboration between American and Indonesian artists, which was so transformative that it has become a permanent feature of Crosspulse. Keith also created the International Body Music Festival in 2008, which brings together artists from around the world for contemporary and traditional body music concerts, workshops, and learning for all ages.

SFBC has been fortunate to have Keith or his partner Evie Ladin bring body music and movement every year to our Many Voices, One Art festival. The pandemic has affected Keith’s planned travels to Asia and Europe, as well as his anticipated performances and workshops.  However, Keith is an optimistic sort; he even arranges socially distanced body music “jam sessions” in his driveway! Keith has been collaborating, choreographing, performing, and teaching for 40 years, and has no doubt that, when it is time to resume in-person gatherings, there will be a stronger-than-ever demand for the expression of performance arts through body music.