Pianist Laurie Bender and Sage Hana Release a Haunting Video Reflection on the Hope and Horror of 2023

by delarue

Laurie Bender is the pianist that the legions of youtubers who post melancholy rainy-day solo clips can only dream of becoming. But Bender’s music is much more dynamic, and soulful, and spiritual. Based in Maryland, she plays solo as well as with choirs and singers. One suspects that she is used to playing for larger and more attentive crowds at her weekly church gig than most New York clubs can hold.

Give a listen to her quietly shattering, intuitive, and rapt but wounded solo performance of Michael W. Smith‘s guardedly hopeful ballad, Breathe. The way she picks it up on the second chorus will take your breath away if you listen closely.

As it turns out, she recorded it on her phone in a single take as the soundtrack for the latest harrowing, spot-on video pastiche by Sage Hana Productions. It’s a somber juxtaposition of freedom movement heroes in their element, alongside metaphorically loaded imagery. There’s Sucharit Bhakdi looking solemn and saturnine; a rare shot of Mike Yeadon in his garage working on his motorcycle; Mark Crispin Miller asserting, “In that case, we cannot…”  and a haunted, lustrously beautiful Celia Farber in a still from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s film The Real Anthony Fauci.

And notice the mysterious couple texting their friend upstairs from a snowy sidewalk on what could be Morgan Avenue in Bushwick.