Damien Sneed & Friends perform at Dizzy’s Club : NPR

Damien Sneed at Dizzy’s Club


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Damien Sneed at Dizzy’s Club


When Damien Sneed gave this concert on January 28, 2021, the doors of Dizzy’s Club were still closed to the public. Instead, the pianist and singer connected with his virtual audience via livestream, sharing stories from his upbringing in Augusta, Ga. and anecdotes about the gospel and blues music he performs. Throughout the performance, Sneed, accompanied by Michael Olatuja (bass) and Jonathan Barber (drums), infuses traditional songs with a virtuoso jazz sensibility, invigorating them with scatting, dizzying runs and masterful improvisation.

The concert is a conversation that explores the expression of grief, joy and faith through music. Selections include songs from Sneed’s childhood, when he sought to understand why the lyrics of hymns and other traditional African-American music sometimes clash with the uplifting sounds and tones with which they were performed. . The answer, of course, is that spiritual people are born out of a history of oppression. Despite this legacy, their unwavering faith, hope and optimism overcome heartbreak. True to that tradition, when guest vocalist Anitra McKinney joins Sneed on stage, their vocal performances are exhilarating. Sneed successfully brings us together to enjoy an exciting, empowering and deeply restorative show.

For more on Damien Sneed, check out his radio episode on Jazz Night in America.

The musicians

Damien Sneed, piano and vocals

Michael Olatuja, bass

Jonathan Barber, drums

Anitra Raquel McKinney, vocals

Set List

“Wade in the Water” (Traditional)

“Walk With Me” (Traditional)

“The Lord Will Make a Way” (Traditional)


Executive producers: Raynel Frazier, Yunie Mojica; Production Manager: Sarah Peterson; Broadcast Sound Engineer: Rob Macomber; Camera director and operator: Jim Sapione; Cameraman: Roland Chassagne; Publisher: Nikki Birch; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Main producers: Nikki Birch, Alex Ariff; Editor-in-Chief: Ben de la Cruz; VP Music and Visuals Music: Keith Jenkins; Executive producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundmann.

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