Leah Bowden is a musician, scholar and educator specializing in percussion music, jazz, world music and popular music. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of California, San Diego (2018), where she was a member of the resident percussion ensemble red fish blue fish, directed by Steven Schick. She now performs with The Forest, a cooperative percussion quintet featuring Lesley Mok, Andrew Drury, Michael Wimberly and Gustavo Aguilar, and is a key collaborator on a new interdisciplinary project directed by the prolific painter Iva Gueorguieva. Leah has performed, toured and recorded extensively with percussion ensembles, chamber groups and bands including The Forest, red fish blue fish, William Winant Percussion Group, International Contemporary Ensemble, Bang on a Can All Stars, El Otro Lado, Eighth Blackbird, Baby Bushka, Secret Drum Band, Kid Millions and many others. She has shared the stage with such luminaries as Anthony Davis, Waddada Leo Smith, Nicole Mitchell, Vinny Golia, Dafnis Prieto, Jay Rodriguez, Warren Smith and J.D. Parran as well.
Dr. Bowden is the author of “Max Roach and M’Boom: Diasporic Soundings in American Percussion Music,” and is the archivist for M’Boom co-founder, Warren Smith. She was the first board president with The Voices of Our City Choir, a robust performing arts organization and resource for people experiencing homelessness in San Diego, and she played drums with the choir for several years. She is currently a board member with Continuum Arts & Culture, Inc. (Brooklyn, New York) and is an active contributor to Soup and Sound, its flagship concert series, and the FLY! program which brings drumming workshops to under-resourced communities nationwide. A versatile arts educator, she has taught music courses, directed ensembles, given guest lectures and masterclasses at major universities and cultural centers throughout the United States and Mexico.