Billie Davies

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Billie Davies
Davies during a live performance in 2018
Davies during a live performance in 2018
Background information
Birth nameBillie Goegebeur
Also known asBillie Davies
Born (1955-12-10) December 10, 1955 (age 65)
Bruges, West Flanders, Belgium
OriginMorini, Flanders, Belgium
GenresJazz, Avant-garde jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, drummer, composer
Years activeMid 1980s-present
Associated actsBillie Davies - A Nu Experience, Billie Davies Trio, Billie Davies Ensemble, Billie Davies & The Bad Boyzzzz

Billie Davies (née Goegebeur, December 10, 1955) is an American female jazz drummer and composer best known for her avant garde and avant-garde jazz compositions since the mid-1990s, and her improvisational drumming techniques she has performed in Europe and in the United States.

Early life[edit]

Davies around 2-3 years old with her grandfather Maurice Clybouw in Zeebrugge
Davies with her mother Simone Clybouw on the beach in Zeebrugge, 1957

Billie Davies was born in Bruges, Belgium. Mostly growing up on the Belgian Coast, in Western Europe, at the North Sea, between Bruges, Knokke, Blankenberge and Zeebrugge, her grandfather, Maurice Clybouw (1912 Eernegem - 1984 Bruges), who immigrated with his parents to Paris, France when he was 8, in 1920, and moved back to Belgium, Bruges in 1943,[1] was the first to introduce her to the drums when Billie was about three years old. She has had a love relationship with rhythm and drums ever since. Her mother, Simone Clybouw (born in Rueil-Malmaison 1934), was her biggest influence on a personal and artistic level, and introduced her to Jazz and Classical music before Billie had made her first footstep. It was her mother who sent Billie to music school when she was 7, which did not work out very well as Billie started skipping classes, and who introduced her to live jazz and other music performances from when she was a toddler until she was a young teenager, and introduced her to the world of art, entertainers, painters, poets and professors, musicians and chefs. While Billie grew up with music from Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, Django Reinhardt, Ella Fitzgerald, Toots Thielemans, Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Mozart, Ravel, Paganini, Vivaldi and Chopin, in her ears, at age 11 Billie began singing with school choirs and church choirs. At age 12, Billie’s first serious stage performance was with a Youth Opera in Sint-Kruis (Bruges), a rendition of Romeo and Juliet fashioned Billie as Romeo due to her exceptional vocal range and sense of music and theatre. As she continued to develop her love of the arts some of the highlights were, at age 14, her first performance as a drummer playing John Lennon’s “Power to the People” on plastic buckets, and aluminum lids in front of a crowd of about 100 kids at the beach in De Panne where she also sang a duet "Who'll Stop the Rain" by John Fogerty. At age 17, at the Royal Concert Building of Bruges, Koninklijke Stadsschouwburg Brugge, she directed and choreographed a group of 5 performers and co-performed in Sunshiny Days, which was inspired by writer Johnny Nash’s song "I Can See Clearly Now" and the music of Gladys Knight and the Pips. The audience demanded an encore. With DJing becoming such a huge part of our culture by the time she reached 18, Billie had started presenting professionally in the entertainment industry in Bruges where she specifically remembers the "Saaihalle", which now seems to be The Frietmuseum, where she enjoyed her first DJ adventures, "Le Carrousel", that since has transformed into a hotel, where she worked as a bartender/DJ from around 5pm to 2am and mostly entertained the Opera crowd, singers, directors, artists and Opera employees, and her absolute favorite, the hottest small jazz club in town in 1976-77, "Het Patriciershof" on the Jan Van Eyck Square, Jan van Eyckplein, where she worked from around 2-2:30 am to 8 am and where René, one of the owners and an old jazz friend of her mother, introduced her to the jazz of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davies, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Lester Bowie, Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp and even more at the time considered obscure jazz musicians, and where she became a bartender and Dj, and entertained the Jazz crowd of Bruges deep nightlife that usually consisted of entertainers, musicians, painters, writers, chefs, hair stylists, fashion designers, models, gamblers and lots of whisky drinkers which were served "under the table" due to the existing prohibition of no alcohol to be served in public. All these experiences further enriched her love of rhythms and beats, of music, of jazz, cementing her desire to pursue drumming and fulfilling her need to entertain. As an early adult at 21, Billie became a solo singer for 1 year with the Royal Army Choir of Belgium. The high point of that adventure was singing at the Antwerp Opera with a complete symphonic orchestra. A year later, her voice underwent a dramatic change and she never felt comfortable singing again.[2]


Billie Davies

"Davies is mostly an autodidact whose natural talent, relentless, explorative spirit and multifaceted experiences have led to an innovative approach to jazz."[3] "With a background in Classical and Jazz and a lifetime of musical experiences in jams, performances, recordings and music production, the listener is treated to jazz inclinations within her ensembles that bristle with cutting-edge freshness."[4]

Aged 25 Billie Davies started the transition to become a professional musician. Some of her influences stem from classical, gypsy, manouche, blues, jazz, free jazz and soul/funk. As a player she feels that Al Foster, Billy Higgins, Billy Cobham, Jack De Johnette, Ed Thigpen, and Peter Erskine have been her biggest influences, she learned from them extensively. Becoming completely immersed into the jazz, free jazz and avant garde world, which is second nature for her stylistically, three years later, she was a professional drummer. She performed throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, France "A Revelation for her was meeting with legendary guitarist Ricardo Baliardo, but known by his stage name Manitas de Plata, as well as playing with bluesman Claude Mazet – both guitarists also respected the traditional rhythmic rules. Even with the Roma, she lived several years in their way of life, which her bohemian temper satisfied so that at twenty-five she refused the offer of the legendary drummer Max Roach to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, after he heard her play in Montpellier on the street.",[5] Italy, Northern Africa, Spain, Portugal and Greece for the next 7 years. She knew her love of drumming had become her life.

At a crossroads in her musical career, while living and playing and performing with Claude Mazet in the South of France (Montpellier, Toulouse, Biarritz, La Rochelle), Billie ended up receiving a talent grant from Max Roach to come study at Berklee College of Music, this was after he heard one of her tapes she laid down with a bass player in Montpellier, France. Billie was however having too much fun in the south of France, living the life of a gypsy jazz musician and therefore decided not to take the offer. In his words: “Hearing from your tape, you could learn more fundamental drumming techniques, but I also hear the natural drummer, so my advice is for you not to worry too much about your technical skill, you will develop your own, I can definitely hear that, but just in case that you might want to study in a good program, please accept my invitation in the form of a talent grant to come study at the Berklee College of Music, all you need to worry about is finding a place to live and some money to survive."

"Davies is not countering the modern jazz movement so much but rather stripping it down to its essence. When listening to Davies play, it's easier to think of her not as a drummer but a tonal painter who swipes brushstrokes with her drumsticks."[6]

A move to the United States at 32 gave her an opportunity to play all over the west coast. In 1987 in Oregon, she played in Astoria, Seaside, Manzanita and Portland, where she met and played a few times with Leroy Vinnegar, and then later in early 1988 she moved to California, where she was mostly active in North Beach, San Francisco and in the Lower Haight district, Lower Haight, San Francisco, where she met and ended up playing a few times with John Handy and played frequently with infamous local jazz notables at their infamous and unforgiving jams, in her words: the best learning school she ever had. She recorded two albums in the mid-nineties, "Cobra Basemento" and "Dreams" with Saul Kaye on guitar, Michael Godwin on bass and Lee Elfenbein on upright bass (on Dreams), "the infamous boombox recordings" in the San Francisco Bay Area. In December 1997 she moved to Napa, California where for a little while she held a jazz jam at a local jazz bar on Sunday evenings with Drew Waters on bass and other musicians, such as Pierre Swärd from Sweden, and performed a lot of invitationals in the Bay Area with local pro jazz and blues bands. In 2002 she became a US Citizen in San Francisco.

In 2009, she made Los Angeles, California her home base and in 2011, in Hollywood, she began writing for her new album all about Love. and started the process of choosing musicians to develop her sound for the album. In June 2012 she independently released all about Love.[7] with Tom Bone Ralls on trombone and Oliver Steinberg on bass. In August 2012, she began writing all original material for her album 12 VOLT and began her search for the right musicians. In April 2013, Davies recorded 12 VOLT with Daniel Coffeng on guitar and Adam Levy on bass. It was published in September 2013 and released on October 10, 2013.[8][9]

In March 2014 she moved her operations to New Orleans where she since permanently resides and works as a New Orleans Musician.[10] In April 2015 she recorded Hand in Hand in the Hand of the Moon.[11][12] An homage to Serge Vandercam (Copenhagen, Denmark, 1924 - Wavre, Belgium, March 10, 2005). A symphony inspired by paintings by Serge Vandercam and drums by Billie Davies (Bruges, Belgium, 1955). The painter influenced by the drummer and the drummer influenced by the painter over a period of three days of the full moon. A collaborative work, conceived in 1995 resulting 20 years later in a series of 8 paintings and a jazz symphony of 8 musical movements. The album was recorded at her studio on the west bank of the Mississippi river, just outside New Orleans, with Alex Blaine on tenor sax, Branden Lewis on trumpet, Evan Oberla on trombone, and Ed Strohsahl on upright bass.

Jazz drummer Davies

“Billie Davies is a very accomplished free-jazz drummer. Born in Belgium, she now lives in New Orleans, having spent much of her life living peripatetically. Previous reviewers have made much of the self-taught nature of her drumming. I defy any listener to distinguish her playing from someone ‘schooled’ in jazz drumming. There is a vitality and fluidity in the way that she plays the drum kit and this is what I mean by the idea that her stories explain her drumming; she speaks through the drums to the other players, asking questions of them and replying with the fusion of styles that she has built up over her travels.” [13]

In November 2015 “BILLIE & The Bad Boyzzzz” Jazz Ensemble came to the stage with Evan Oberla on trombone, Branden Lewis on trumpet, Ari Kohn on reeds and Oliver Watkinson on upright bass. In February 2016 she formed Billie Davies Trio with Evan Oberla and Oliver Watkinson, moving into a very electric, Nu jazz direction. Summer of 2016 Billie Davies started A Nu Experience with IRIS P on vocals, Evan Oberla on electric piano, synthesizer and trombone, Oliver Watkinson on electric bass and Billie on electronic drums. By the end of that summer the new recording "On Hollywood Boulevard" had become a reality and so established BILLIE DAVIES - A Nu Experience - Feat. IRIS P. December 10, 2016 Billie Davies released "On Hollywood Boulevard".[14] It became a January 2017 Editor's Pick on[15]

In December 2017 New Orleans surprised her by nominating her for "Best Contemporary Jazz Artist" in New Orleans by Best Of The Beat 2017, OffBeat Magazine.[16]

"As a bandleader, Davies delivers an ambitious program that incorporates r&b-flavored vocals, propulsive bass lines, drum patterns with a swing feel, occasionally blues-tinged keyboard work, growling trombone, epic prog-rock synthesizer washes and brief bouts of hip-hop turntableism, all tied together with an improviser's approach." [17]

September 2018 she released "Perspectives II" with Billie Davies Trio featuring Iris P, vocals and spoken word, with whom she also recorded "On Hollywood Boulevard" and also featuring Ari Kohn, woodwinds and Allie Porter, vocals and spoken word.[18] "The spiritual jazz tradition, as exemplified by John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, has been having a resurgence over the past few years in places like Los Angeles and Great Britain. Now here is evidence that some musicians in New Orleans are going down that path as well. Billie Davies is a drummer from Belgium who now lives and works in the Big Easy and this recording, available only in download form, captures a live performance of her trio, plus added guests, creating over an hour of heady, uplifting music. This music never stays in one place for long, progressing naturally through straight jazz, jazz-rock, free jazz and other sub-genres, with the voices of Allie and Iris P dramatically shouting or sensually cooing as the mood dictates. This is a loose, free-flowing concoction not quite like anything else out there. Like the best forward-thinking music, Billie Davies' work reminds you of many different things but in the end, it is its own original beast, as powerful as anything more well-known musicians have created this year." [19]


Davies during a live performance at Music At The Mint in 2018

Her third release after a hiatus of six years was all about Love., which had a surprising result on the CMJ Jazz College Radio Charts and achieved the #1 top jazz add in new album adds.[20] all about Love. went on to stay in the Top 40 jazz for four consecutive weeks. CMJ Top 40 JAZZ:

  1. 1 CMJ Top Jazz Adds CMJ issue #1262 – Aug 23, 2012.[20]
  2. 28 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1263 – Aug 29, 2012.[21]
  3. 14 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1264 – Sep 6, 2012.[22]
  4. 14 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1265 – Sep 13, 2012.
  5. 20 CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart issue #1265 – Sep 20, 2012.[23]

all about Love. was also very well received in Canada where the album ended up in the Top 10 on three different !Earshot Jazz charts.

  1. 5 !Earshot Jazz National Jazz Charts w/e Sep 25, 2012.[24]
  2. 2 !Earshot Jazz CJSW 90.9 MHz – Calgary Jazz w/e Sep 25, 2012.[25]
  3. 8 !Earshot Jazz CJSR 88.5 MHz – Edmonton Jazz w/e Nov 20, 2012.[26]

One year later, after finishing 12 VOLT, she received a nomination for "Jazz Artist of the Year" at the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Music Awards on September 26, 2013.[27][28]

She is the recipient of the "Jazz Artist" Award for 2013 by the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Music Awards on November 14, 2013.[29]

Davies receiving the 2013 "Jazz Artist" of the year Award at the 23rd LA Music Awards at AVALON, Hollywood

She received more national and international attention due to a player feature, "BILLIE DAVIES '20 Years Stronger', published in Downbeat Magazine May 2016 edition.[30] Her music has been receiving attention by jazz reviewers, critics and jazz radio stations since her comeback to the jazz scene in 2011.[9][31][32][33]

Billie Davies was nominated for "Best Contemporary Jazz Artist" in New Orleans by Best Of The Beat 2017, OffBeat Magazine.[34]

Billie Davies was nominated for "Best Drummer" in New Orleans by 2019 Best Of The Beat Awards, OffBeat Magazine.[35]

Billie Davies Live in New Orleans


As leader[edit]


  1. ^ Monique Clybouw. "Billie Davies Biography". Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  2. ^ Billie Davies. "Billie Davies Biography". Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  3. ^ Attarian, Hryar. "Billie Davies: All About Love (2012)". All About Jazz. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  4. ^ Bond, C.J. "The Billie Davies Trio: All About Love". Jazz Music. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  5. ^ Hocek, Jan. "BILLIE DAVIES – 12 VOLT : HIGH VOLTAGE avant-garde JAZZ". his VOICE. Archived from the original on December 14, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  6. ^ Aaron, S. Victor. "Billie Davies – 12 VOLT (2013)". Something Else! Reviews. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  7. ^ CDBaby. "The Billie Davies Trio - All About Love (feat. Tom Bone Ralls, Oliver Steinberg & Billie Davies". Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  8. ^ CDBaby. "Billie Davies - 12 VOLT". Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  9. ^ a b All About Jazz. "Billie Davies @ All About Jazz". Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  10. ^ Glinda Mantle. "Award Winning, Belgium Born Jazz Drummer Leaves Career in California for a Career in New Orleans!". Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  11. ^ CDBaby. "Billie Davies - Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon". Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  12. ^ Billie Davies. "Hand In Hand In The Hand Of The Moon". Billie Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  13. ^ Baber, Chris. "BILLIE DAVIES - Hand in Hand in the Hand of the Moon". JAZZ VIEWS. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  14. ^ CDBaby. "Billie Davies - On Hollywood Boulevard". Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  15. ^ Reed, Bobby (January 2017). "Billie Davies - On Hollywood Boulevard". DownBeat Magazine Editor's Pick. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  16. ^ OffBeat Magazine (December 2017). "Best Of The Beat 2017 Music Awards, Best Contemporary Jazz Artist". Best Of The Beat 2017 Music Awards. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  17. ^ Reed, Bobby (January 2017). "Billie Davies - On Hollywood Boulevard". DownBeat Magazine Editor's Pick. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  18. ^ "New Orleans Drummer Billie Davies Announces Her New Release, "Perspectives II" By Billie Davies Trio, For September 27, 2018". All About Jazz. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  19. ^ Wilson, Jerome (December 2018). "Billie Davies Trio: Perspectives II". All About Jazz Album Reviews. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Davies, Billie (August 23, 2012). "Billie Davies, Female Jazz & Avant Garde Drummer, and ~ The Billie Davies Band ~: Billie Davies Debuts on the Top Jazz Adds Chart at #1 | Kari-On Productions Blog". Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  21. ^ Davies, Billie (August 31, 2012). "Billie Davies, Female Jazz & Avant Garde Drummer, and ~ The Billie Davies Band ~: Fw: Congrats!!! Billie Davies debuts at #28 on the CMJ Jazz Chart". Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  22. ^ Davies, Billie (September 14, 2012). "Billie Davies, Female Jazz & Avant Garde Drummer, and ~ The Billie Davies Band ~: Billie Davies Trio Enjoy Their 3rd Week on the CMJ Top 40 Jazz Chart at #14". Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  23. ^ "Music News, Album Reviews, Charts, Features, MP3s, Photos". CMJ. Archived from the original on February 20, 1998. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  24. ^ "!earshot : charts : Jazz : Sep 25, 2012". Earshot Magazine. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  25. ^ "!earshot : charts : CJSW 90.9 MHz – Calgary AB : Jazz : Sep 25, 2012". Earshot Magazine. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  26. ^ "!earshot : charts : CJSR 88.5 MHz – Edmonton AB : Jazz : Nov 20, 2012". Earshot Magazine. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  27. ^ "The 2013 LA Music Awards Categories". November 15, 2012. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  28. ^ "Billie Davies Nominated For Jazz Artist 2013". DRUM! Magazine. September 24, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  29. ^ "2013 Los Angeles Music Awards Recipients". November 15, 2012. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  30. ^ "BILLIE DAVIES 20 Years Stronger". Downbeat. May 2016. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
  31. ^ "Billie Davies". All About Jazz. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  32. ^ "BILLIE DAVIES Los Angeles Music Awards". LA Music Awards. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  33. ^ "BILLIE DAVIES". November 14, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  34. ^ OffBeat Magazine (December 2017). "Best Of The Beat 2017 Music Awards, Best Contemporary Jazz Artist". Best Of The Beat 2017 Music Awards. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  35. ^ OffBeat Magazine (December 2019). "2019 Best Of The Beat Music Awards Nominees, Best Drummer". Best Of The Beat 2019 Nominees. Retrieved January 26, 2020.

External links[edit]

Media related to Billie Davies at Wikimedia Commons