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  • Writer's picture Llerraj Esuod

Quinton 'Q' Robinson's Drum Book of Acts

Photo Credit: Pig Hog. Fat cable. Fat Sound.

By Llerraj Esuod

ACT I: The Divine Initiation


Picture a young Quinton Robinson, at 18 months old, beginning his journey into percussion with a pair of wooden spoons and a pot. Raised in a deeply spiritual home, his lullabies were the soul-stirring melodies of The Winans and The Mighty Clouds of Joy. Gospel music, essentially sacred hymns, helped shape his musical taste and influence his style.


Legend has it that in this consecrated space, a voice whispered, 'Bring them here.' His makeshift instruments were believed to ascend to heaven, returning to him blessed and sanctified, deepening his connection to a pre-ordained muse.


"Music chose me," he said. At three, Robinson's grandfather gifted him his first pair of drumsticks, and he soon began playing in church. The early exposure to community praise was a metaphoric experience, nurturing his musical intelligence.


The collective energy of worship, the nuanced rhythm of call-and-response songs, and the opportunities for improvisation contributed to his drumming development. He remembers “grasping the concept of feeling and emotion,” a foundation upon which his grandmother prophesied his percussive pursuits.


ACT II: A Pubescent Evolution


As the music continued to order Robinson's steps, a new path emerged within the 13-year-old Charles R. Drew Middle School student. His time in the school's performing arts division sparked a new passion—theater had become his teenage love.


His burgeoning affair with the stage and its lights intensified, competing with his commitment to drumsticks and snares when he landed the leading role in a school play as Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island. This pivotal moment marked a pubescent evolution in his relationship with music. It was a time of growth, exploration, and new experiences that shaped his future as a musician.


He tried to balance his two loves until the band and music theater directors suggested monogamy. "A choice had to be made," Robinson said. The prodigal paramour chose the latter. 


ACT III: The Evidence of Things Not Seen


In 2010, despite reaching the apex of local studio work, the University of Miami Frost School of Music alum said he felt hemmed in by limitations. "I was living beneath a glass ceiling. I felt a calling for something more." 


Robinson made an Abrahamic move, leaving behind the comfort and familiarity of his hometown of Miami to explore Atlanta's vibrant music scene. This decision was more than a geographic change; it was an act of blind faith. He was determined to create new career possibilities and foster professional growth despite the challenges and uncertainties of the transition.


"Success isn't a linear path," he remarked, "There will be obstacles, but overcoming them means finding alternative routes to achieve one's objective."


Today, his perseverance and dedication have paid off with a remarkable opportunity. Sam Merrick, the former lead drummer in Hamilton's acclaimed Hip-Hop Broadway stage play, encouraged him to audition for the seat's helm after landing a gig in New York. "In [this] business, you say 'yes' to everything and figure out the details later," Robinson said, adding, "The drumming community is supportive, but competition exists." 


He insists no one gets to his level without doing the work, which involves many early mornings, sleep deprivation, and betting on yourself. "People can look at my life, but much alone time is dedicated to being proficient at one's craft. There is only one Hamilton drum chair, and I have it.”


The Final Act: Reunited


For Robinson, the reunion of his unrequited love for theater and drumming is proof of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 1: "To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven."


Though he does not act on stage, he fulfills dual passions by playing the drums from the beat of his heart during every act.


"Drums give power to the air, they are a spiritual instrument that communicates things that words cannot convey,” he said.


He should know.


After performing in 500 shows, Robinson maintains a profound perspective: "It may be my 500th show, but for someone in the audience, it's their first time experiencing the production. So, I don't see it as my 500th show; instead, it's like falling in love for the first time, 500 times."


--Rebel Writes

Disclaimer: M.I.A. magazine originally posted this article on Jun. 7, 2024 for the American Black Film Festival edition. We have reproduced it here for informational purposes only.


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