Jamecia Bennett was told by her music teacher that she couldn’t sing because her voice was “too big”. The daughter of Ann Nesby and mother of Season 5 American Idol finalist Paris Bennett, Jamecia’s voice has proved that teacher wrong. Now a 3-time Grammy winner, lead vocalist of the Sounds of Blackness, director of various productions at The Guthrie, and taught under superstar producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for 10 years, Jamecia has turned her talent into a thriving career.
Opening night of The Belvedere, Crooners newest outdoor stage, temps hovered around 50 degrees. The dual 40′ x 40′ tents consumed the back of the venue. The climate controlled cushion of these indoor tents along with the full service menu and dangling cafe lights immediately calmed any worries about the temperature outside. Sitting under the massive structures with the sun going down, listening to live music, will never get old. And The Belvedere is the perfect spot to capitalize on that warmth, glow, and magic throughout this year.
Opening the Evening
Jamecia Bennett started the evening with a rendition of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. Her voice and stage presence took over the tent as she showcased her range and dynamics. Her cover of Jill Scott’s “A Long Walk” pulled everyone in closer. She then paused to tell a story about her cousin Dennis Spears and how she was invited to a jazz show. Although she was brand new to the genre, she found that night that jazz was already inside her and how it felt like the music was a conversation. Jamecia then performed “Fly Me To the Moon”, which felt so natural with her voice.
Dedicating Billie Holiday’s “Willow, Weep For Me” to her late godmother Debbie Duncan, you could feel the heart and weight in the air. Jamecia has a voice that shares it’s character with you. You can sense her intention, hear the dynamics, and the unwavering strength in her voice resonates in your chest. The Belvedere’s sound system delivered in quality with the full band of backup singers, organ, drums, keyboard, guitar, sax, and bass. Throughout the set each instrument found a way to shine and impart each song with something extra special.
Ending the first set was a powerful statement by the drummer. Standing in front he first expressed gratitude to the Black woman. Then stating that “Being a Black man in Minnesota is peculiar.” There are videos you can find each day of Black people being brutalized in our country. His song “Not Today, Karen” was an instrumental wave of strength. Tightly coiled together, the song was a unifying moment and robust example of talent on stage.
Closing the Evening
The second half of the evening was filled with more blues. Hearing Jamecia’s voice shift to this new style seemed effortless. The collection of songs were also more empowering. A call and response of “I’m a Woman” with her backup singers was memorable, as well as her performance of an Aretha Franklin song. Her family being filled with community leaders like Dennis Spears, vocalists like Ann Nesby and Debbie Duncan, certainly explain the genetics in her daughter Paris Bennett. It’s refreshing to see the importance of family and where we come from in music.
Closing the evening was Jamecia’s newest single “I Got A Real Good Man.” It had the audience clapping and even a few dancing in the back of the tent. There are many reason people need live music in their lives. In Minnesota right now, there’s one statement that stands above all others. On Jamecia’s website she states, “I make and sing music to heal the soul.” Last night at the brand new venue, that message and mission statement seemed to hold true with a standing ovation.
To see the full lineup of shows at The Belvedere this coming season, click HERE.