Aaron Myers on his fourth album
Photo courtesy of Aaron Myers

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Aaron Myers

“I am a gospel and soul pianist, and a jazz singer with lots of Black influences from all genres,” explains the Texas-raised, D.C.-based musician Aaron Myers. With the aid of local jazz players, Myers recently released his fourth studio effort, The Pride Album, which displays both those styles as well as political and personal lyrics that are vocalized in a delivery that ranges from theatrical to understated. Myers, who is the Minister of Music at Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, a WPFW DJ, and vice chair of the NAACP’s D.C. Branch LGBTQIA+ Committee, doesn’t hold back on this release. On the jazzy ballad “Don’t Ask Me,” Myers, in a melancholy tone over poignant, intermittent piano notes, sings “When you oppress me / Don’t ask me to smile / Just set me free.” He explains that “Don’t Ask Me” was the “first song that I knew would make this album possible. I wanted to have two separate inspirations—Nina Simone’s ‘Mississippi Goddam’ and Judy Garland’s version of ‘Over the Rainbow.’” Myers appreciates the way those compositions use orchestration to convey the songs’ powerful and painful messages. On tracks “The New Jim Crow” and his adaptation of Bobby Timmons’ “Moanin,” Myers says the arrangements add noisy instrumental work from keyboardist Samuel Prather, saxophonist Herb Scott, bassist Kris Funn, guitarist Stephen Arnold, and drummer Dana Hawkins to depict the “discordant chaos of the moment.” The instrumental assistance also supports Myers’ lyrical plaints about the ugliness of racial profiling by police, deadly traffic stops, and the January 6 insurrection. Myers, who’s also a fan of Gregory Porter and Nat King Cole, balances those tunes with the likes of “Please Take Care of You for Me,” where he croons “Hold on, just you wait and see / Together love will bring us through.” The Pride Album is available on Bandcamp, $12.99, and various streaming services. Myers performs at 6 p.m. on July 30 at American Son in Eaton DC, 1201 K St NW #2. eatonworkshop.com. Free.