Inspirational Projects and New Album

with Lakecia Benjamin

Date Posted: April 11, 2018

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Interview conducted by Alison Evans

What is the inspiration/motivation behind your latest project, “Rise Up”?

I had experienced a number of low points in my family, including the loss of my baby sister. I had been feeling really down and gloomy and it took a while to get back to normal. During this period, musically, I had begun writing songs to encourage me to move forward in life. After a while, I started to think there must be others that are experiencing their own trials and tribulations in life. I wanted to write something to provide some inspiration to people; help someone else reach a better place.

What led you to shoot a music video for the track, “March On” and could you tell us a little bit about it?

“March On,” to me, was the whole beginning to my writing process for this album. If my album “Rise Up” is the car, then “March On” would be the gas. I do a lot of work with Jazz at Lincoln Center with young people coming up in music. I felt it was important to show them:

  1. The value of music, learning how to play actual instruments, and performing.
  2. Also for them to be able to speak life and positivity to themselves at a young age. I feel they will need this determination and strength as they go on trying to pursue their own careers.

Have you done music videos before? How would you describe the experience?

Yes, I have made two other full-length music videos. One from this new CD, “Takeback,” and the other from my first CD, “Retox,” for the song “Jump and Shout.” The experience was fun. I enjoy putting visuals to music and utilizing other art forms.

What was it like working with GRAMMY Award Winning “Educator of the Year” Melissa Salguero and the PS48 Music Department?

Are you kidding me? It was amazing! It’s amazing to work with someone at that level that shares the same dream and commitments as I do. You can just see the love and dedication she has, not only to her students, but for her work.

Have you always enjoyed working with young musicians?

I have always enjoyed it. I started playing music in 5th grade and from that point was in band after school every day. Someone took the time to nurture me, believe in me, and take me to shows and gigs. Without that I’m not sure I would be where I am today.

My first band director, Sergio Larios, worked hard; he is also the bass handler to legendary Ron Carter. He even got us gigs like 3 times a week. I was 12-13 already figuring out how to perform. I feel it’s my job to share what’s been shared with me. Music is a very passed down tradition.

In your ideal world, what will listeners take away from this album?

I’m hoping everyone walks away with a smile on their face and just a little bit more hope and drive than they started with.

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