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The Magic of Just One Drum

by Dina Neves

This is a story of how the magic of one drum united the passions of my sister Joann Quintal and I and at the same time created beautiful art, rhythm and peace.

Growing up 3rd generation Portuguese in Hawaii in the 60s and 70s, Joann was my big sister and she was all that, a fearless surfer and an amazingly gifted artist.

I was the annoying little sister always banging on things and as I got a wee bit older, became quite the activist with my signs & petitions all over the neighborhood. I was a force to be reckoned with and convinced I would grow up to be a drummer & an activist.

I did grow up to be an amicable drummer and Joann raised 3 daughters and continued to paint whenever inspiration struck. This went on for many years until I had an idea and asked Joann to paint a drum for me. She accepted with my 1 request, to do whatever she wanted, no matter how long it took.

About a year later she was done and she was soaring. She said it had been the most frustrating and most rewarding project she’d ever worked on. There were so many lessons learned artistically & personally and she was TOTALLY inspired! She couldn’t stop painting!

She didn’t mention what the design was (and I was afraid to ask). You can imagine my anxiety. What if I don’t like it? What will I say??? (I hadn’t thought of this part!)

As soon as I took it out of the box, my heart sank. It was by far the most beautiful drum I’d ever seen! It had the face of a beautiful Hawaiian woman with eyes that followed you across a room. She had a slight smirk implying she knew something you didn’t. Her flowing brown hair wrapped around the drum and was pulled back with my favorite flower, a White Ginger. There were also small glimpses of blue near the top which Joann said was to remind me to keep reaching for the sky. It was truly one of a kind and Joann named her Ginger.

Ginger - 12” Remo Key-Tuned Djembe

Then I played her. I’ve played a lot of drums over the past 30 years, but none had ever affected me the way Ginger did with just my first hit. It was Joann’s Spirit, her Aloha, her Passion and it made me play better. I was inspired and I couldn’t stop playing her.

I played at Remo. I played with friends, strangers, by myself, in my room, in my backyard, everywhere and anywhere I could including my neighborhood Peace Vigil and then it hit me, I was a drumming activist. It never occurred to me that I would be doing both at the same time and as if having your childhood dream realized wasn’t enough, Ginger had taught me MY peace was in my drums.

And as if THAT wasn’t enough, Joann and I are even closer to each other and to our passions than ever.

Joann continues to live in Hawaii and create wonderful art filled with truth and grace all the while inspired by Jesus and giving praise to him through her gift.

Since Ginger, she’s created several other designs using Remo djembes and frame drums along with some beautiful paintings on canvas and paper.

Flowering Vine - 12” Remo Key-Tuned Djembe

Tribal Fish - 22” Remo Frame Drum

pineapple Pineapple - 10” Remo Frame Drum

Her most recent drum designs (below) can be found at the prestigious Hana Coast Gallery in Hana, Maui.

They portray two very well known Hawaiian deities, Chief Lohiau and his lover Hi’iaka, the goddess of Hula, brought together by the sound of a drum.

gallery Hi’iaka and Chief Lohiau - 12” Remo Key-Tuned Djembes

Joann’s currently working on an Ngoma and an Ashiko. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do with them!

Meanwhile, I live in California and continue to play often and thank God and Jesus for my sister, my drums, my life and of course Ginger.

If you’re interested in any of the designs pictured (except Ginger! She’s MINE!!) or would like Joann to create something for you, please feel free to call me (Dina Neves) or send me an email to
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