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Sherrie Maricle: The DIVA in Profile

The drummer and leader reflects on a life spent transcending stereotypes

Sherrie Maricle
"You just have to keep forging ahead," says Sherrie Maricle

When Sherrie Maricle was 11 years old, she decided she wanted to play the trumpet. “Girls don’t play the trumpet,” she was told by a teacher at her school in Buffalo, N.Y. Maricle tried a couple of other instruments without success, and then one day she hit a drum. The more she hit it, the more musical it sounded. She waited to be told that this instrument too was intended only for male hands, but the admonition didn’t arrive. Instead, she says, “The teacher thought maybe I had an inclination toward drums and took me to see Buddy Rich. [Rich] started out on the hi-hat and the band came out screaming. I got goosebumps. ‘What the hell is that?’ I raced home and told my mother I was going to play jazz. I didn’t know what a big band was but I loved it. That was it. I knew what I was doing.”

Maricle, now 53, has been doing it ever since, most notably as the leader of the 15-piece DIVA Jazz Orchestra, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. She also leads the DIVA Jazz Trio and 3Divas, and the quintet Five Play. She’s just begun her 27th season with the New York Pops, has accompanied many other high-profile artists, gives private lessons and runs an interactive program for kids at Manhattan’s Ronald McDonald House. In 2009, Maricle received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival.

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