Local Current Blog

‘Everything is a beat’: Minneapolis drummer Glory Yard builds on national breakout after playing SNL with Lizzo

Glory Yard. (courtesy the artist)

Let’s say you know in your heart exactly what you want to do — you always have. The thing you want to do is play the drums, a passion which has been on your mind as long as you remember because you grew up hearing a story from your grandfather about how, when you were a baby, he would take you to the laundromat. He would set you on top of the machine and tap out a rhythm. At one or two years old, you’d tap the same rhythm right back.

Brooklyn-born, Minneapolis-based drummer Glory Yard, also known as GloryTheDrummer, had gone her whole life hearing this story. Growing up, she paid special attention to the drummers at church, making sure — even though she didn’t play with them yet — they knew who she was.

There was one problem, though. Her mom wanted her to play piano.

Eventually, they made a “50/50” agreement: drums one day, piano the next. Drumming was still the passion, though, and Glory eventually made the switch to full-time with the instrument.

“In life in general, if you’re just walking, everything is a beat. You can’t leave it,” the artist said. “When you feel your eyeballs moving…everything you do is musical, and drums are a heavy component of that.”

Having begun drumming for her church’s band junior year of high school, Glory Yard attended Lagond Music School in New York after graduation.

“It kind of changed my life, thinking of music [in an academic sense]. I said no to a lot of things until I found my footing,” she said. “Like, ‘I don’t like this type of rock, so I’m not going to do it.’”

In 2015, she moved to Minnesota to attend McNally Smith College of Music. Once she arrived in the Twin Cities, she started playing gigs and never stopped — even when McNally closed its doors unexpectedly in 2017.

Regarding the closure, Glory Yard says she’s learned a lot — about herself, the music scene, the ways of the world. “I’m still going. It’s not stopping me. I’m very fortunate and blessed to get the opportunities I’ve had since then,” she said.

Style-wise, the artist says she changes it up about once a year. Right now she’d describe her sound as “jazz fusion,” but she “likes to expand with funk or Latin, too. […] I’m always open to different things, finding out what journey the music can take me on. You never stop growing; I enjoy being pushed.”

As a freelance artist, Glory Yard is available when someone needs a backup, and she gigs with artists like Saint LaRon and Rajitheone. She hosts private lessons and plays with Dua Saleh.

In December, she graced the Saturday Night Live stage with Lizzo — her first big gig taking her right back to her hometown.

“My friend in L.A. was originally asked to play but couldn’t,” Glory Yard said. Not knowing exactly what the gig was, she sent over some videos as her audition — a Michael Jackson cover from college and a clip from an Eat Street Festival performance.

A few days later, she got the call and found out who she would be playing with. “All I did was pass my phone to my partner,” Glory said. “It was a dream. This is the stuff I used to talk about with my friends in college. Waiting and getting that call.”

After the show, one door opened. Then another. Companies Glory “only dreamed of working with” began reaching out, offering their endorsements to the drummer.

The success was not totally unexpected, though. Glory has worked hard — who else started practicing as a toddler? “I knew this was going to happen, with all the time I’ve put in,” the artist said. “Some days it’s like, ‘Whoa, I never knew it would happen this fast.’ Other days I’m like, ‘Yeah…I knew it would.’”

Given the present public health crisis, the roll has slowed down a bit for now. Like most people, Glory Yard is “taking it step by step.” She’s being aware and conscious and mindful and trying to stay positive. The music isn’t stopping, though.

At home, Glory has both an acoustic and electric drum set. She and her partner, DJ Yhaaante, are working on a show together. The couple have a three-month-old daughter, and when Glory plays the drums, she falls asleep.

Having experienced so many milestones in such a short amount of time, after all, Glory Yard deserves a pause. “I’m taking in the little moments as much as I can,” she said, with “all the time in the world” to now perfect the piano.