Reaching youth one beat at a time

Deacon Curtis

There’s nothing like a drum beat that can set the mood for special events-festivals, movie premieres, parties, and lectures. No one knows the impact music, specifically drumming, can bring to an environment better than Wayne Curtis, founder, and C.E.O. of Mobile Alabama Africatown Drummers (M.A.A.D.) L.L.C. His love of drumming allowed him to study his craft with the best and brightest and play throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean.

He believes when much is given, much is required, and he uses his skills as a drummer and his life experiences to teach, motivate and inspire a sense of pride, culture, self-worth, and discipline for tomorrow’s future leaders. “It’s just what I do,” he says.

Although some youth are described as troubled and not responsive to direction, Curtis believes having someone who understands their struggles is key. As a student at Booker T. Washington Middle School, he faced peer pressure in the classroom to join in with the antics of his classmates. 

He remembers being laughed at and fighting his classmates, who teased him when he responded to his teachers’ question regarding the parts of the brain at Booker T. Washington Middle School. “Back in the day,” Curtis says, some students would equate my intellect with being boisterous, which often led to fighting my classmates.”

Deacon Curtis

Luckily, his mother, grandmother, teachers, and mentors saw his potential. Pastor Stokes, the deacons weren’t afraid to whip him-lay hands in him. “My grandmother would say,” according to Curtis, “guys that have sense go to college.”

The now-retired medical technologist and cytotechnologist could have taken various paths other than serving his country as a Naval corpsman and attending college at Norfolk State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in medical technology.

Deacon Curtis

In his travels, Curtis has lived and worked in Florida, California, Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia. However, what has remained a constant in his life is giving back to his community and volunteering. “Youth needs to be encouraged,” he says. “Many don’t reach their potential because no one motivates them.”

“People are doing great things from Mobile,” he says. “Lonnie Johnson, Alexis Herman, and others got their start in this city-some from the Plateau and Maysville area.