JazzTimes is honored to premiere the video for “Never You Mind” by the new vocal group säje, whose members include two-time Grammy nominee Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick, and Erin Bentlage. (Each letter in the band’s name corresponds to the first letter in each of the members’ first names; säje should be pronounced like “sage.”) The song will be released officially on all digital streaming platforms tomorrow (July 17).
Written by Kendrick, who also sings lead, “Never You Mind” is a haunting ballad that addresses America’s Black community, punctuated by the refrain “You matter.” Fittingly, the group will be donating all proceeds from sales of the song to the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
Besides the four members of säje, the song and video feature keyboardist Dawn Clement, bassist Anna Butterss, and drummer Christian Euman.
Kendrick comments: “I wrote ‘Never You Mind’ as a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. I needed to write a piece that acknowledged what is happening to Black people across our country; I needed to say their names. This song acknowledges the fear that I live with, not only as a mother of two beautiful Black babies, but also as the wife of a wonderful Black man, who enjoys jogging … Having the space to perform this song with säje has provided a very special experience for me — the vocal arrangement by Erin Bentlage and Sara Gazarek enhanced my original vision, and created a stunning sense of reverent reflection. Singing over the repeated mantra, ‘You matter,’ alongside my säje sisters is allyship in its purest, most genuine form. It is our combined hope that this work inspires the oppressed and awakens the oppressors. ‘You come from a legacy of warriors and though there’s fear, know that fear’s what fueled the fire of courage that led us here …’”
säje made its live debut in January at the 2020 Jazz Education Network Conference in New Orleans, then went on to tour until the COVID-19 lockdown took force in March. “Never You Mind” is the second of four singles that the group plans to release in 2020; a full-length album will follow sometime in 2021.
For more information about säje, visit their website.