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Gary’s own little drummer boy

De`JBlackwell | Jeff MAnes~for Sun-Times Media

De`Jon Blackwell | Jeff MAnes~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 26, 2013 8:47AM



“Little baby, pa rum pa pum pum

I am a poor boy too, pa rum pa pum pum

I have no gift to bring, pa rum pa pum pum,

That’s fit to give our King, pa rum pa pum pum

Shall I play for You, pa rum pa pum pum

On my drum...

...Mary nodded, pa rum pa pum pum

The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pa pum pum

I played my drum for Him, pa rum pa pum pum

I played my best for Him, pa rum pa pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pa pum pum

Me and my drum...”

— Katherine Kennicott Davis

De‘Jon Blackwell’s friends call him D.J. He’s 13 and is the son of Fredrick Blackwell and Angela Spye. He is currently living in Gary with his grandparents and attends Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School.

D.J. has two sisters, Diamond and Destiny. Our interview took place a couple blocks north of Interstate 80/94 on Grant Street at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Gary.

De‘Jon Blackwell is an incredible self-taught drummer.

***

You’re real close with your paternal grandparents.

“Yes, Bernadette and Alphonso Blackwell,” he said.

What’s your favorite subject in school?

“Gym.”

What’s your favorite sport?

“Basketball.”

Who’s your best buddy?

“Nathan Morris.”

Girlfriend?

“No.”

Destiny is giggling at that. You probably have about five of them. For now, stick with the drums. I hear you do a great Michael Jackson impersonation.

“Yeah, I’m a good dancer and a member of Krucial Kreations dance troupe. You have to be at least 13 to be in it.”

Do you enjoy attending church?

“Sometimes. I’m in the Youth Group.”

Do you like living in Gary?

“It’s OK, but I also liked living at the Mansards in Griffith.”

Tell me about the drums.

“When I was little, I used to play the drums on this thing my granddad had. There were lots of tiny cymbals on the side of it.”

You’re referring to a tambourine.

“Yeah, that’s it. When I was about 9, I got a real drum set for Christmas.”

Do you know the song, “The Little Drummer Boy”?

“Yes, I performed it in a play a few years ago at this church.”

What would you like to do for a living when you get out of school?

“I’d like to be an N.B.A. player, but if that doesn’t work out, I’ll probably go to the military.”

D.J., can you play your drums for me?

“Sure.”

***

De‘Jon Blackwell has quite a gift.

And just maybe, a poor boy from long ago is smiling while His mother nods.



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