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Lakecia Benjamin: Tiny Desk Concert

This Black Music Month, Tiny Desk is giving the ladies their flowers. We’re releasing nine Tiny Desk concerts from Black women artists, from veterans who’ve paved the way for what we hear today in Black music, to those who are carving out their own paths.

Alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin burst into her Tiny Desk Concert like a meteor breaching the atmosphere.

Benjamin approaches her music and performances with a take-no-prisoners attitude. After primarily performing as an accompanist, she introduced the world to her own voice. While her first two studio albums leaned into jazz-funk and soul, in 2020 she referenced her bebop and spiritual influences with Pursuance: The Coltranes, an album that brought together several generations of the genre’s luminaries to pay homage to John and Alice Coltrane. That project and her 2023 album, Phoenix, received critical acclaim, the latter earning her three Grammy nominations.

Her opening tune, “Phoenix Reimagined” is a joyous explosion that ushers you into her world, whether you’re ready or not. Her next two songs put her lyricism front and center, as she welcomed singer Melodie Ray to sing with her on “Let Go,” a song that follows the steps of jazz poetry and hip-hop, and “Mercy.” Benjamin concluded her performance with “Trane,” a song she wrote to honor the Coltranes.

Because we are celebrating Black Music Month by giving our all-women lineup their flowers, I asked Benjamin to talk about some of the women who continue to inspire her. She named a few of her mentors: Terri Lyne Carrington, Patrice Rushen and Dee Dee Bridgewater, all of whom are trailblazers in and out of Black music. I couldn’t help but think of them when she joyfully declared: “We here!”

SET LIST

  • “Phoenix Reimagined” 
  • “Let Go” 
  • “Mercy”
  • “Trane”


MUSICIANS

  • Lakecia Benjamin: alto sax, lead vocals
  • Melodie Ray: vocals
  • Miki Hayama: keys
  • Oscar Perez: piano
  • Elias Bailey: bass
  • E.J. Strickland: drums


TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Nikki Birch
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Technical Director: Hannah Gluvna
  • Host/Series Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Mitra I. Arthur
  • Audio Engineers: Neil Tevault, Josh Newell
  • Production Assistant: Elle Mannion
  • Photographer: Grace Raver
  • Animation: Jackie Lay
  • Florist: Kelanda Edwards
  • Tiny Desk Team: Kara Frame, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins

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