Grammy-winning bassist, composer, and bandleader Ben Williams has shared an instrumentals version of I Am A Man, his latest album released on February 7 via Rainbow Blonde Records.

I Am A Man is the Washington, D.C. artist’s most poignant, sociopolitical statement yet. Its title refers to Memphis’ historic 1968 African American sanitation workers’ strike during which African American men marched through the streets with picket signs that read “I Am A Man” in arresting, boldface type.

“The image of this long line of men, holding the picket signs, all saying the same thing—there’s something powerful about seeing this message over and over again,” Williams says. The messaging reminded him of how we use hashtags today to help ignite activism such as Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements.

The instrumentals version, called I Am A Man: Mentals, is an opportunity to “take a peek under [the] hood and get a closer look at the arrangements” he created for the album. It features the same band of New York- and Los Angeles-based musicians, including Keyon Harrold, Marcus Strickland, Kris Bowers, David Rosenthal, Jamire Williams, Justin Brown, Bendji Allonce, Dontae Winslow, Anne Drummond, Maria Im, Chiari Fasi, Celia Hatton, and Justina Sullivan.

Hailing from Washington, D.C., Williams graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Michigan State University and The Juilliard School. He won a Grammy Award in 2013 for Best Jazz Instrumental Album as a member of guitarist Pat Metheny’s Unity Band. He has also performed with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Robert Glasper, and Pharrell.

Rainbow Blonde Records is the Los Angeles label of José James, Talia Billig, and Brian Bender. Album artwork comes from Janette Beckman.


01. I Am A Man (Intro) (Instrumental)
02. If You Hear Me (Instrumental)
03. March On (Instrumental)
04. Promised Land (Instrumental
05. High Road (Instrumental)
06.Take It From Me (Instrumental)
07.Come Home (Instrumental)
08. The Death Of Emmett Till (Instrumental)
09. High Road, Pt. 2 (Instrumental)
10. We Shall Overcome (Instrumental)

I Am A Man: Mentals LP is available digitally now. Meanwhile, a full stream is available below.