Champion Ed 'Nardie' White

The act of making music can build bridges among people of diverse backgrounds. Ed "Nardie" White knew that when in 1993 he founded Louisville’s River City Drum Corp, a group of children and young adults between the ages of 2 and 18 who have been trained in African drumming techniques and materials as well as the richness of African culture.

Designed for children ages two through eighteen, the Drum Corp is far more than just a musical group; it is an organization that provides its members with a blueprint for success in life. Each young drummer makes his or her own drum, using materials found in the environment. They learn through apprenticeships-not just about African drumming, but also about the skills needed for personal, academic, and social success. They are responsible for the Drum Corp’s business accounting and scheduling. After every performance or group outing, each member writes a personal narrative about his/her experience regarding that particular event.

White is the 2015 recipient of Louisville Metro’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award. “Many people talk about what needs to be done, but Ed is a person of action and he has done outstanding and pioneering work developing young folks into productive citizens through the River City Drum Corps and other community programs to engage and inspire youth,” Mayor Fischer said.

The Drum Corp’s overall success is grounded in a commitment among the participants, their families, and program volunteers to function as one unit–a true extended family.

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