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  • Wednesday, October 6, 2021
    Watch: Ben LaMar Gay Releases "Oh Great Be the Lake" from Upcoming Album, 'Open Arms to Open Us'

    Chicago-based composer, singer, and instrumental polymath Ben LaMar Gay returns to share “Oh Great Be the Lake," the second single from his upcoming new album Open Arms to Open Us, out November 19 on International Anthem / Nonesuch. The new track is a classic ballad penned by Gay to his memories of jumping off the rocks into Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Southside; you can watch a video for the track by Chris Strong here:

    Supported by delicate, breathy, beautiful and minimal flute accents by Rob Frye (Bitchin Bajas), and wordless backing vocals by Ayanna Woods, Gay croons encouragingly, repeatedly: “Learn how to swim.” This song also birthed the album title, which is taken from the lyrics in the second verse. About the meaning of “Open Arms to Open Us,” Gay says: “the title is a suggestion of a body movement that is used in many spiritual practices and is also a movement that leads to touch or a hug.”

    Last month, Gay shared the first offering from his newest project, a pulsing melodic bellow titled “Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You” featuring fellow Chicago natives Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart (of OHMME). Embraced enthusiastically by critics for it’s “stange, transfixing” (Stereogum) and “genre-fluid” (Brooklyn Vegan) radiations, the newest offerings from the composer are another display of why legendary BBC radio host Gilles Peterson recently called Gay “one of my favorite artists,” and the New York Times called him a “postmodern folklorist” with a “wise and confiding baritone” when including Open Arms to Open Us in their Fall 2021 preview.

    Reflecting on the music in a prologue he wrote for Open Arms to Open Us, Gay says “Open Arms to Open Us deals with rhythm as an inheritance of information – sort of like DNA or RNA. Coping with the present-day bombardment of data and recycled ideologies from sources essentially fed by the creed ‘Destroy Them. Own the Earth,’ often leaves me with only one thing to look forward to: Rhythm.”

    This latest project is the follow up to Gay’s 2018 critically-acclaimed, debut album Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, which was a compilation of previously-unreleased material composed and produced by Gay over seven years. It was heralded by Pitchfork, NPR and the Guardian, the last of which called it, “a record of endless depth and unpredictability.” But Gay’s work is not limited to album releases. He has composed for dance troupes (including the Ruth Page Civic Ballet) and architectural features (including a 2019 duet with the DuSable Bridge in downtown Chicago), and also has done extensive film score work (including the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival award-winning documentary The Good Fight). In 2019 he debuted ‘Hecky Naw! Angels!’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, using video art and choreography to explore the shapes and sounds of Chicago’s Black social dances.

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Watch: Ben LaMar Gay Releases "Oh Great Be the Lake" from Upcoming Album, 'Open Arms to Open Us'

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on October 6, 2021 - 10:00am
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Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 10:00
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Ben LaMar Gay has released “Oh Great Be the Lake," the second single from his upcoming new album Open Arms to Open Us, out November 19 on International Anthem / Nonesuch. The new track is a ballad penned by Gay to his memories of jumping off the rocks into Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Southside; you can watch the video by Chris Strong here. Supported by delicate, minimal flute accents by Rob Frye and wordless backing vocals by Ayanna Woods, Gay croons encouragingly, repeatedly: “Learn how to swim.” This song also birthed the album title, which is taken from the lyrics in the second verse.

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Chicago-based composer, singer, and instrumental polymath Ben LaMar Gay returns to share “Oh Great Be the Lake," the second single from his upcoming new album Open Arms to Open Us, out November 19 on International Anthem / Nonesuch. The new track is a classic ballad penned by Gay to his memories of jumping off the rocks into Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Southside; you can watch a video for the track by Chris Strong here:

Supported by delicate, breathy, beautiful and minimal flute accents by Rob Frye (Bitchin Bajas), and wordless backing vocals by Ayanna Woods, Gay croons encouragingly, repeatedly: “Learn how to swim.” This song also birthed the album title, which is taken from the lyrics in the second verse. About the meaning of “Open Arms to Open Us,” Gay says: “the title is a suggestion of a body movement that is used in many spiritual practices and is also a movement that leads to touch or a hug.”

Last month, Gay shared the first offering from his newest project, a pulsing melodic bellow titled “Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You” featuring fellow Chicago natives Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart (of OHMME). Embraced enthusiastically by critics for it’s “stange, transfixing” (Stereogum) and “genre-fluid” (Brooklyn Vegan) radiations, the newest offerings from the composer are another display of why legendary BBC radio host Gilles Peterson recently called Gay “one of my favorite artists,” and the New York Times called him a “postmodern folklorist” with a “wise and confiding baritone” when including Open Arms to Open Us in their Fall 2021 preview.

Reflecting on the music in a prologue he wrote for Open Arms to Open Us, Gay says “Open Arms to Open Us deals with rhythm as an inheritance of information – sort of like DNA or RNA. Coping with the present-day bombardment of data and recycled ideologies from sources essentially fed by the creed ‘Destroy Them. Own the Earth,’ often leaves me with only one thing to look forward to: Rhythm.”

This latest project is the follow up to Gay’s 2018 critically-acclaimed, debut album Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, which was a compilation of previously-unreleased material composed and produced by Gay over seven years. It was heralded by Pitchfork, NPR and the Guardian, the last of which called it, “a record of endless depth and unpredictability.” But Gay’s work is not limited to album releases. He has composed for dance troupes (including the Ruth Page Civic Ballet) and architectural features (including a 2019 duet with the DuSable Bridge in downtown Chicago), and also has done extensive film score work (including the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival award-winning documentary The Good Fight). In 2019 he debuted ‘Hecky Naw! Angels!’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, using video art and choreography to explore the shapes and sounds of Chicago’s Black social dances.

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Ben LaMar Gay: "Oh Great Be the Lake" [video]

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