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Nandi Bushell Read By Jacqueline Green

Once upon a time, there was a girl who went from making pancakes with her parents to making history as an international rockstar and YouTube sensation — all before turning twelve years old! Her name is Nandi.

Jacqueline Green followed her dream to become a dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. She began her dance training at age 13 at the Baltimore School for the Arts. She is a 2011 cum laude graduate of the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program, and also trained at the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, the Chautauqua Institution for Dance, and The School at Jacob’s Pillow. 

This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls and is based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This episode was produced by Isaac Kaplan-Woolner. Sound design and mixing by Bianca Salinas. This episode was written by Abby Scher and proofread by Joe Rhatigan. Executive Producer was Katie Sprenger. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. A big thanks to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this show possible! For more, visit Until next time, stay REBEL!


Once upon a time, there was a girl who went from making pancakes with her parents… to making history as an international rockstar and YouTube sensation — all before turning twelve years old! 

Her name… is Nandi.

Nandi was born in Durban, South Africa in 2010. Her name means Queen of the Zulus. The Zulu people are an indigenous group in southern Africa that Nandi is very proud to be a part of. 

Nandi and her family moved to a small house in Ipswich, England when Nandi was very little. One Saturday morning, when she was just five, the family was cooking breakfast. Her dad put on a YouTube clip of The Beatles playing “Hey Jude” and Nandi was mesmerized — especially by the drummer, Ringo Starr. 

A few weeks later, Nandi’s parents let her pick out a treat for doing well on her schoolwork. She went into a toy shop with her dad and marched straight to the music section. She stopped in front of a plastic drum kit and said, “This is what I want!” 

As soon as they got home, Nandi set up the drums, sat down, and started figuring out how to play. It was hard at first, but slowly, surely, she started making rhythms, patterns and riffs.

Nandi started taking lessons, and playing along with her favorite songs, breaking down each part until she played it perfectly. With her parents’ help, she started posting videos of herself playing some of her favorite songs

In one of them, Nandi sat in a corner of her living room, behind her drum kit, dressed in a blue and white polka-dotted dress and purple headphones. With a huge smile on her face, she tore into a heavy metal song by the band Metallica. 

She was barely tall enough to reach the bass pedal and she was killing this song! When the music paused, Nandi twirled her drumsticks and let out one of her this-is-too-awesome rock star screams. 

The views racked up and people were AMAZED. 

One day when Nandi was 9, a shiny new drum kit showed up at her house. This wasn’t a toy made of plastic. This was the real deal! 

It turned out that a famous drummer named Questlove had seen her videos. He was so impressed that he decided to send Nandi one of the smaller drum kits that he had designed himself! 

Questlove wrote Practice, Practice, Practice on a note that he sent with the drums. And Nandi did JUST that.  

From there, things got even better for Nandi. She posted a video of herself playing a song by the rock band Nirvana. The drummer who originally played in that band announced that she was a “force of nature.”

His name is Dave Grohl and he is one of Nandi’s all-time drumming heroes. And so, she made a video challenging him to a drum-off. 

And Dave took her up on it!

They posted videos of themselves playing back and forth, drumming with all their might, and millions of viewers cheered them on. 

Dave Grohl said Nandi had won round one. But he was upping the ante by writing a new song just for her. It was a HUGE moment for Nandi. 

Whether she’s rocking out with her dad in their living room or beaming on stage next to legendary musicians, Nandi spreads joy with her love of music. 

She even plays air drums while she’s talking, the rhythms in her head moving her hands without her even thinking about it.  

Next up? Nandi wants to write more songs, master more instruments, start a band, AND release an album!  

Because anything is possible as long as she feels the beat, lets the music fill her bones, and shares her joy. As Nandi says, “Rock out, pull faces, let go! Who cares what people think if it feels good smashing on the drums.”

So whatever makes you smile the most, Rebels,  keep doing it every day and watch that smile spread around the world!