Visiting Artist Series: Tank and the Bangas
Please see the full events listing for upcoming events.
The Berklee Visiting Artist Series is a live, interactive forum featuring some of today's most innovative professional performers and creators. These moderated discussions will focus on the topics of artistry, entrepreneurship, and social justice, and students will have the opportunity to actively participate by posing questions directly to guests. This event features a live interview with Tank and the Bangas.
Coming from New Orleans, Louisiana, Tank and the Bangas are surrounded by plenty of grand musical traditions. The five-piece group has a rare knack for combining various musical styles—fiery soul, deft hip-hop, deep-groove R&B, and subtle jazz—into one dazzling, cohesive whole that evokes the scope of New Orleans music while retaining a distinctive feel all its own. Tarriona “Tank” Ball fronts the band with vivid charisma that helped Tank and the Bangas win NPR’s 2017 Tiny Desk Concert Contest by unanimous acclaim, standing out among 6,000 entrants because of what Bob Boilen called “the depth of their lyricism and the versatility of their players.” Those same qualities also attracted the attention of Verve Records, which has signed the band.
Ball’s lyrical depth has been years in the making. She came up in the strong local slam poetry scene before meeting her bandmates: Merell Burkett on keyboards, Joshua Johnson on drums, Norman Spence on bass and synth keys, and, eventually, Albert Allenback on alto sax and flute. “Growing up, I always could sing, but I wrote better than I sang, so I focused on writing,” she says. After her team won the National Poetry Slam Championship two years in a row, Ball turned her full attention to Tank and the Bangas. What started as a loose collaboration at an open mic night in 2011 has grown into a mesmerizing musical force that’s picking up speed. After a featured set at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival early in the band’s career, the musicians built a reputation outside their hometown by grinding it out on the road, honing their live show and releasing the 2013 album Think Tank, all the while converting audiences into passionate fans and garnering critical acclaim, from the New Orleans Advocate to the New York Times. “It made us work hard,” Ball says of playing Jazz Fest. “It made us want to feel deserving of it.”
Their hard work is paying off: The Huffington Post says Tank and the Bangas defy description onstage, adding, “It’s music that you have to experience.” The experience is subject to change from one night to the next. Tank and the Bangas won the Tiny Desk contest with “Quick,” a riotous single they released in 2017 (and soon accompanied with a cheeky, not entirely safe-for-work video). There’s more new music where that came from as the group works on the follow-up to Think Tank. “It’s going to be awesome,” Ball says. “It’s going to be fun, and a little vulnerable at the same time.”
How to Participate
RSVP in the Berklee Career Manager. Once you are registered, we will send you a link to access the Zoom webinar 24 hours before the event.