‘America’s Fastest Girl Drummer’ Viola Smith Performs on 1939 TV Show – Best of YouTube
This woman was born 80 years too early. Back in the 1930s, female drummer Viola Smith had chops that could match any man. In all honesty, she had more skill than most modern drummers have today. In this televised 1939 performance, Smith leads her all-female band, the Coquettes, in one of the most surreal videos you'll ever see.
First off, let's talk about her kit. The thing looks like it was teleported straight from outer space. The kit seems to be mostly made of toms and cymbals, with a xylophone and timpani added in as well. Using temp mallets, she absolutely owns that kit; one reason she was dubbed 'America's Fastest Girl Drummer' in a 1939 press photo.
As the original "hep girl," she pioneered generations of female percussionists, writing a controversial article for Down Beat Magazine called "Give Girl Musicians a Break" in the 1940s. Smith also holds the distinction of being Zildjian's longest running endorser.
Viola Smith will celebrate her 102nd birthday on Nov. 29. And guess what? She still plays the drums; an art form that she's attributed to her life's longevity.
Watch Viola Smith's incredible performance of 'Snake Charmer' with the Coquettes above!