Jelani Sei Returns to the Stood

by Jon Mecca


(Left to right) Jaylen Petinaud, Evan Lawrence, Sam Smith

Purchase’s own Jelani Sei returned to campus Sept. 13, marking their first Stood show since playing at last year’s Fall Fest. The band welcomed the opportunity to play in Whitson’s again after being invited by Palm, who joined Jelani Sei on the bill along with Evan Liu.


The band recently toured with Remo Drive and Sorority Noise for two weeks in April, playing 13 shows, some of which were sold out. The tour started in Texas, with a following appearance in Florida, then along the east coast, ending in Washington D.C. “That tour was life changing,” said former General Programing Coordinator, Evan Lawrence, a senior Jazz Studies major and the bassist and vocalist for Jelani Sei.


“[Being in school and touring] gets tricky throughout the year but it’s manageable,” said Jaylen Petinaud, a junior Jazz Studies and Economics double major and the band’s drummer. “You’re coming here for a music degree to find work, and if you’re getting work while you’re in college, that’s the whole point.” Jelani Sei was only able to perform two weeks of their tour due to obligations within school.


Lawrence originally attended the University of Hartford before transferring to Purchase as a sophomore in 2015. During his time at Hartford, he met Scott White, Sam Smith, and Kayana Guity, who would eventually become members when Jelani Sei formed in the fall of 2015 (Petinaud joined the band during his freshman at Purchase in 2016 after meeting Lawrence). Since 2015, the band has played a Whitson’s show at least twice a year, various house shows, and a WPSR show.


“I thought the show was absolutely tremendous,” said Brandon Gurba, a student who attended the show. “All of the members in Jelani Sei are technically advanced and they care so much about creating an atmosphere with their skills.”


The resources and facilities at Purchase contributed to the band’s success, said Petinaud. Jelani Sei credits anything from studios and recording to those that make their shows happen and meeting and connecting with fellow musicians. Eventually Jelani Sei developed their own sound, classified by Lawrence as “progressive R&B,” ranging between soul, rock, and jazz.


“I feel like they have one of the hottest percussion and rhythm sections around,” said Mark Perkins, a student who also attended the show. “It was cool, I’m glad I got to see them again.”


According to all of the band members, more people attended the show than they expected. “I was afraid there was only going to be like, 10 people,” said Lawrence.


As for upcoming projects, Jelani Sei is currently working on an album, as well as recording demos. The band also has a few upcoming shows at the end of September and throughout October in Manhattan and Brooklyn.


“Tonight’s show felt different,” said Guity, the band’s lead vocalist. White, the band’s guitarist, added “I thought tonight was a good crowd– it was packed too.”

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