Jyn Yates was born about a week from the death of Keith Moon, she was raised in Kentucky. Jyn Yates sat behind the kit at the early age of three years old, and learned to play on her father's 1960’s Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit with two 26” bass drums, a replica of the drum kit Ginger Baker played with Cream.
Jyn was playing at a very young age, only 16 when she played at the Capitol in Washington, DC with the Adair Co Marching Band. Yates was also playing in steel guitar conventions at age 12 hosted by country music star Steve Warner family and band member Beckham Collins, who ran the local music shop outside her hometown in south central Kentucky.
At age 27, Yates began teaching drum set & percussion to kids at Mom’s Music in Louisville, where she worked for many years before forming Jyneration Studios,. She’s been a drum teacher for many years now sharing her gift to thousands of students across the world along the way.
Her father Bobby Yates, was a drummer before the age of 10, playing for The Sterlings, The Dawnbreakers, and in 1976 played with Fargo, touring with Kentucky band Exile, known for their dance hit, I Want To Kiss You All Over. The Yates family leans toward bluegrass & southern gospel; her grandmother Dimple played the organ as well as the dulcimer, banjo, guitar, and loved all forms of music. During holidays the family would gather together to sing and make music, her aunts played the piano and trumpet, her uncle played drums in the Army, and she has a cousin majored in mandolin at South Plains University in Texas and her sister, Caroline plays a multitude of instruments including saxophone. The entire Yates family is very musical.
Being a young female drummer in a small town in Kentucky, Yates initially encountered resistance. Her school instructor wanted her to play a different instrument, he said he wanted her to play clarinet and not drums. Yates agreed to play clarinet, solidifying her determination, she started to lock herself in the family’s drum room to practice. One day by chance, the instructor saw her jamming on a drum kit at school and moved her over to the pep and marching band. She eventually played drums in the Campbellsville University Marching Band pit in 1996. Before leaving to major in communications at Western Kentucky University in 1997.
As a member of the Adair County Marching Band, one of the winningest marching bands in the state of Kentucky, holding a multitude of state championships. The drum line was never defeated during Yates’ stint from 1991-1996, where she played in the pit. Yates has marched in the Indianapolis Bands of America in the National Marching Band Championship, where Adair County won nationals. She has marched in Washington, DC on the Capitol as well as the RCA dome, and other locations. Yates cites marching band in high school as one of her favorite things about her music career. It taught me dicipline, determination, and how to hold my eyes with pride.
As Yates’ experience grew, she found herself opening for Tim McGraw, The Kentucky Headhunters, Tiffany, Taylor Dayne, Ty Herndon, The Gin Blossoms with a number of bands. She has performed on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and in Nashville, TN with Bobby Keys, a sax player with the Rolling Stones in the early seventies, who also worked on songs with legends like John Lennon, Ronnie Wood, and Ringo Starr. In 2014, Yates toured on the road across the United States and Canada with Blues Funk trio, Kelly Richey and FREEKBASS, a student of Bootsy Collins in Cincinnati, Ohio.
A special career highlight was playing in the musical RENT for theatre. Yates says, “RENT debuted my first year of college. I traveled to New York city to see it on Broadway and was moved to tears by the performance. Jonathan Larson died passed away before opening night. Playing drums in his story touched my heart, it was an honor. Rent will always hold a special place in my heart." Yates went on to perform more theatre shows including The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, The Color Purple, Godspell, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rocky Horror, Les Miserables, The Christians in Naples, Florida, Sweeney Todd, Jekkyl & Hyde, Funny Girl, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of The Goddesses with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and eventually leading up to her theatre work in Girlfriend, which premiered at Actors Theatre in Louisville and she revised her role in Girlfriend, a musical around the Matthew Sweet record that dropped in the 90s a week before Nirvana released Smells Like Teen Spirit. Girlfriend ran at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where Yates was hired by producer & female musician director Julie Wolf. The all female band for the show was Wolf, who had toured with The Indigo Girls & Ani Difranco, Yates, blues guitarist Kelly Richey and bass player Sara Lee of the B52s/Thompson Twins/Robert Fripp.
Girlfriend eventually opened in Los Angeles, California in 2015 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. That show was an amazing run, says Yates, who considers that performace to be one of her career highlights. I met Courtney Love, The Bangles, Michelle Shocked, Bruce Vilanch, who were all at our shows. It was wild running around Hollywood and LA, and parking in Kirk Douglas’ personal parking spot everyday was an eye opening experience. The all female band in California featured Wolf and Yates reviving their roles plus bass player Vivi Rama, of Ke$ha/Teagan And Sara, and guitarist Janet Robin, who toured with Dave Stewert and Lindsey Buckingham. Robin was also the only female guitar student of Randy Rhodes.
Jyn has performed at Actor's Theatre of Louisville, the Palace Theatre and Kentucky Center For The Arts, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre of New York, Michigan Women's Music Festival, the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles, and the Gulfshore Playhouse Theatre in Naples, Florida. Yates is also one of the 50 female drummers featured in the book Women Drummers: A History, which is available for purchase on Amazon.com, and was picked as the main cover girl for the book cover. The book is the first of it’s kind, featuring women drum set players from around the world telling their stories about discrimination in a mostly male oriented drumming field. “That was an amazing experience to end up on a book with my idols, from Viola Smith to Sheila E, to Allison Miller, & Cindy Blackman Santana! I was blown away when I saw the book, I had no idea the author Angela Smith was picking my photo for the cover, but I’m glad she did. I feel like that basically secured my role as a professional female drummer in the world. I felt like I had finally made it to the top with all my idols growing up.”
Another career highlight is with her drum students, leading the annual Mighty Kindness Hootenanny with the first Annual Mighty Kind Second Line, in honor of the Second Lines in New Orleans with the leadership of the Troubadours of Divine Bliss. She revived that drum line with her drum students in March of 2018 marching for immigrants, refugees, students & teachers, and for a multitude of other world issues and causes.
Yates is classified as a multi-versed drummer and percussionist, with influences from Rock, Blues, Old Country, Motown, Hip-Hop, Electronic, Indie, and New Orleans Second Lines. Her drumming influences include; Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, John Bonham, Mitch Mitchell, Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Buddy Rich, Jeff Picaro, Carmine Appice, Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Mick Fleetwood, Stewart Copeland, James Gadson, Nick Mason, Jabo, Sheila E., Ubaka Hill, Mickey Hart, and Middle Eastern, African and Native American world drummers.
Yates loves drums and percussion, she owns mostly vintage Ludwig drum sets and Yamaha DTX electronic kits, her favorite is her Black Panther 1970s Ludwig set. She also uses Remo pinstripe drum heads, DW pedals, LP Percussion, Yamaha hardware & Steve Gadd Vic Firth sticks.
On the side, Jyn is recognized as a female music producer, having released multiple records with bands over the years. Her latest project Hillbilly Swagger, which features the late Beverly McClellan of NBC’s season one of The Voice, has mostly been released on itunes, pandora, spotify and more. Jyn has an acoustic meets electronic duo in Louisville called The Kentucky Beatniks, who are currently releasing new music & playing in Kentucky. She has an album out by an artist known as Babyllon in New York City & Austin, Texas called Heart Attacks & Southern Roses and will be featured on an Americana Country record called Rivertown with Nashville recording artist Lorie Jo Bridges. She is also producing multiple artists of all musical styles & is always searching for new artists to work with..
Outside of music, Yates has a 17 year career in radio and television, working since age 16 at a local country radio station, WAIN 93.5fm, where she also ran church shows and hosted live christian bands to perform on the AM stations on Sundays. She was hired by Warner Brothers at age 21 and switched jobs into television, bringing her to Louisville, KY where she worked as an on-air director and producer & in the creative services department designing commercials and ads for corporate companies. She later took a management position as a news beureau chief for Westwood One, which covered everything from radio politics, news, traffic and weather. Yates led the news department and has covered events such as the Kentucky Derby, famous court cases and worked beside many Kentucky politcians. Yates served as a page in the Kentucky House in Frankfort, Kentucky as a teen. “I enjoyed the job but music was my true love, so I gave up my news bureau position to follow my love of music full time at age 30 “
In 2018, Jyn suffered a major spinal cord injury. She was put into emergency surgery in December of 2020 and had a metal cage put into her neck, replacing a C5-7 that was restricting spinal cord fluid flow. She is still in full recovery, walking a little better each day. Her hopes are to drum again in the near future.
Her advice to women who want to play the drums: “Don’t listen to anyone saying you cannot play because you are a female. The drums were first a feminine instrument before being banned by the church in the dark ages. Up until then, women were the main drummers. The church banned women from playing drums and from then on it has been considered a masculine instrumnet. My advice to women is this. Master your chops, learn to read music, and hold your eyes with pride. You can become a professional female drummer, if you practice hard and long enough but you have to WANT it bad enough. And you have to Never Give Up no matter what life throws at you along the way. Stay focused and do what you love. Do not listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do something. Believe in a higher spirit paving the way, and always follow your heart. And the music”