Will Clipman

Percussionist, Poet, Performing Artist

Credit: John Running Photography

Credit: John Running Photography


Culture is a journey rather than a destination, and the best vehicle for that journey is music. Having communed with audiences in cultures as far-removed from my own as Morocco, Russia and Germany, I have found the language of music to be universal. I am honored to add my voice to the Intercultural Journeys conversation, and inspired by the absolute necessity of its harmonizing mission.


Will’s intercultural journeys began in Philadelphia at the age of three, when he took it upon himself to begin playing his father’s drums and his mother’s piano. He played his first professional gig at fourteen following formal studies in drums and trumpet, and has since then mastered a pan-global palette of over one hundred percussion instruments in addition to the traditional drumset. His Planet of Percussion® performance and workshop takes audiences of all ages on a world tour of rhythm and polyrhythm.

Along the way, Will has recorded over sixty albums, including over thirty for the Canyon Records label, where he is regarded as the house percussionist. His recorded oeuvre has garnered seven GRAMMY® Nominations, including his solo album Pathfinder, his duo album with R. Carlos Nakai Awakening the Fire, and his trio album with Nakai and William Eaton Dancing into Silence.  

Will has also been honored with three Native American Music Awards, a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award, a New Age Reporter Music Award, and two TAMMIE Awards, and he has been inducted into the Tucson Musicians Museum for his contributions to the musical community in his adopted hometown. He has performed throughout the United States as well as in Mexico, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, Morocco and Russia.

Parallel to his career in music, Will is a published poet who began composing poems and stories at the age of six with the inspiration and guidance of his grandmother. His full-length collection Dog Light is published by Wesleyan University Press, and his work has appeared widely in literary periodicals and anthologies,  including the St. Martin’s Press anthology Dog Music; the University of Nevada Press anthology TumbleWords: Writers Reading the West; and the Southern Poetry Review anthology Looking West.

Will’s explorations of multicultural mythology and folklore led to a third professional expression as a maskmaker and storyteller. His Myths & Masks® performance, workshop and DVD integrates his original mask art with mythopoetic storytelling and world music; it has been presented in over two hundred artist-in-residency programs in public schools, community colleges, juvenile detention facilities, adult prisons, senior citizen centers, hospitals, libraries, art galleries, resorts and retreat centers.

A natural teacher whose grandfather was a superintendent of schools in western Pennsylvania, Will’s work as educator has earned two Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards Nominations and the Arizona Commission on the Arts Decade of Distinguished Service Award in his adopted  state. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Syracuse University and a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Arizona.