Premiere: Watch A Video For ‘Desert Song,’ The Debut Single By Vocal Group säje

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Singer-songwriters Amanda Taylor (left), Sara Gazarek, Johnaye Kendrick and Erin Bentlage have formed the vocal group säje.

(Photo: Lauren Desberg)

For some vocalists, the impulse to collaborate with like-minded artists can result in transcendent music. A case in point is the new vocal group säje, formed by singer-songwriters Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick and Erin Bentlage.

Following the vocal quartet’s debut performance at the Jazz Education Network conference in New Orleans during January, the group went on to perform at multiple festivals and then enjoyed a three-night residency in Los Angeles, before the pandemic resulted in live shows being put on hold.

Below is the premiere of the group’s debut single, “Desert Song.” In the video, guitarist Adam Levy and bassist Anna Butterss provide musical accompaniment for the singers lush harmonies.

“We wrote ‘Desert Song’ together last year, at our very first retreat in Palm Springs, [California],” Gazarek said in a press release. “That weekend was actually the first time all four women were in a room together, so we spent the time cooking and swimming, sharing stories and collectively falling in love with one another. But we also wrote this song. And we conceived of how we wanted to shape this collective, what we wanted it to represent, and how we would share it with the world. In ‘Desert Song,’ the ocean is meant to represent the masculine relationships we used to turn to for validation, and arriving at the desert signifies the empowerment and love we feel by leaning into the strength and femininity of this group.”

The band name—säje, which rhymes with the word “beige”—reflects the collective spirit of the group, as each letter in the word corresponds to the first letter in each of the members’ first names.

The group intends to release three more singles, with an eye toward issuing an album in spring 2021. The track list hasn’t been finalized, but the forthcoming program likely will include other original compositions, as well as renditions of tunes by a wide spectrum of composers. The group has developed arrangements of Gazarek’s “Gaslight District,” Kendrick’s “Never You Mind,” Alina Engibaryan’s “We Are” and YEBBA’s “Evergreen.”

The artwork for the “Desert Song” single was created by singer-songwriter Cécile McLorin Salvant, whose illustrations adorn the cover of her album The Window (Mack Avenue) and saxophonist Melissa Aldana’s album Visions (Motéma). DB




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