Lakecia Benjamin has been selected as the 2023 Monterey Jazz Festival artist-in-residence. Benjamin, 31, is a jazz, funk, and R&B saxophonist from the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.
"My first experience at the Monterey Jazz Festival was sitting backstage, speaking with Quincy Jones and listening to Wayne Shorter's set in 2016," Benjamin shared in an announcement from MJF. "To be joining as the 2023 artist-in-residence is a full circle moment for me.”
Benjamin has been writing songs since the age of 13 and began playing the saxophone in elementary school. After high school she attended The New School in New York City, where she immersed herself in the music of jazz saxophone masters such as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.
As a touring musician she has performed with rap icon Missy Elliot and R&B star Alicia Keys. Benjamin has also performed at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration.
She worked with such stars as singer Anita Baker and shared the stage with musicians such as Stevie Wonder, The Roots and Macy Gray.
Benjamin recorded three albums to date (Retox in 2012, Rise Up in 2018 and Pursuance: The Coltranes in 2020), and just released her newest single, “Mercy”—you can listen on Apple Music or Spotify—with fantastic vocals by Dianne Reeves. Her new album, Phoenix, will be released on Jan. 27.
“I am so excited to join the Monterey family and I look forward to working together to enhance this year's vision," Benjamin said.
The 2023 artist-in-residence will work with young musicians at the Summer Jazz Camp and will perform with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the 66th annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September 2023. Currently, she is part of Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour—Celebrating 65 Years group that already started their journey through 12 states. That tour will end in Detroit’s Orchestra Hall on April 23.
"I am looking forward to our artist-in-residence relationship with Lakecia," MJF Artistic Director Tim Jackson wrote. "She brings a fresh perspective to jazz and I am certain our students and patrons will be enriched by her presence."
The 66th annual Monterey Jazz Festival will take place at the Monterey Fairgrounds from Sept. 23-25, 2023, with more than 300 artists performing on five stages.