GroundUP Music With Becca Stevens, Bokanté, Alina Engibaryan and More: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

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The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It’s the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Oct. 27, 2020 | Suraya Mohamed, Colin Marshall — This three-act, 18-person Tiny Desk (home) concert was conceived by Michael League, Snarky Puppy’s composer and bandleader. He and his cadre of artists on the GroundUP record label believe in two important points: that music and politics are inextricably linked, and the best way to connect people is through song.

League’s rolodex is impressive. If you’re a jazz fan, you’re almost certain to know many of the performers in this ambitious Tiny Desk, which includes (among others) Grammy winners Gregory Porter, Brad Mehldau and Chris Potter.

The concert features three distinct ensembles, beginning with Becca Stevens and her song “Heather’s Letters To Her Mother.” “I wrote this for Heather Heyer, who was killed on August 12, 2017, while peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville,” she says. “In my heart this song has always been a rallying cry to come from a place of compassion in our actions and reactions. It’s a reminder to continue the fight for equality from a determined and compassionate stance regardless of what is happening around us. And it’s a reminder to stay grounded in love because without a foundation of love we are truly lost.”

The second song features League’s world music group Bokanté performing the Creole song “Réparasyon,” meaning “reparations.” Bokanté vocalist Malika Tirolien wrote the song, which appears on the band’s Grammy-nominated album What Heat. “With the rise of black liberation movements around the world, this is a crucial time to remind everyone that people of African descent need the slave trade officially recognized as a crime against humanity and need reparations and restitutions of stolen goods,” Tirolien says. “Getting justice is the only way we can begin a process of forgiveness and healing.”

Keyboard player and vocalist Alina Engibaryan leads the last song, “We Are,” which strives to bring people together, “I wanted to write a song that has a message about people, where regardless of our beliefs, our political views, our race, color, we are all human beings and made of the same thing,” Engibaryan says. “I hope people will understand that one day and will learn to love, respect and accept one another.”

SET LIST & MUSICIANS

“Heather’s Letters to Her Mother” performed by Becca Stevens

Becca Stevens: vocals, guitar
Brad Mehldau: piano, vocals
Chris Tordini: bass, vocals

“Réparasyon” performed by Bokanté

Malika Tirolien: vocals
Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar
Roosevelt Collier: lap steel guitar
Bob Lanzetti: guitar
Chris McQueen: guitar
Michael League: bass
Keita Ogawa: percussion
Jamey Haddad: percussion
André Ferrari: percussion
Weedie Braimah: percussion

“We Are” performed by Alina Engibaryan

Alina Engibaryan: vocals, Rhodes, Moog bass
Gregory Porter: vocals
Chris Potter: tenor saxophone
Taylor Eigsti: piano
Eric Harland: drums
Michael League: vocals

CREDITS
Video By: Chris McQueen
Audio By: Chris McQueen, Michael League
Producers: Colin Marshall, Suraya Mohamed
Video Producer: Maia Stern
Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
Associate Producer: Bobby Carter
Executive Producer: Lauren Onkey
Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann

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