Dee Lucas, a new soprano-sax star in the tradition of George Howard but with his very own voice, is set to headline the fifth annual Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival. Showtime and other performers from this year’s lineup will be announced in advance of festival dates on Oct. 15-17, 2021.
The self-taught Atlanta resident has already made quite a name for himself: He reached the Top 30 on the Billboard jazz-album charts with 2016’s Going Deeper and 2010’s Standing Room Only, the latter of which was co-produced by Grammy-winner Phil Davis. “Full Tilt,” a single collaboration with Blake Aaron from Lucas’ most recent album The Time Is Now, went to the Top 30 on the Billboard airplay chart earlier this month.
The Time Is Now arrived last September and features a guest turn by George Freeman. Freeman played two shows during 2019’s fourth annual Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival – one fronting his own band and another set backing up Phil Denny.
Darryl Williams and David P. Stevens also collaborated on Lucas’ latest new studio project. Lucas’ earlier discography includes 2018’s Going Left, 2017’s The Sweet Spot, 2016’s Going Deeper, and 2012’s Rebirth of the Smooth.
“I always wanted to play,” Lucas told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I think what really spurred it was during my college days, I started to develop a love for smooth jazz. Back then it was just called ‘contemporary jazz.'”
Dee Lucas didn’t get serious about music, however, until much later: “I picked up a saxophone for the very first time,” he later told the Selma Times-Journal, “at the age of 28.”
There was no time left to lose. He dove into a series of classic recordings, attended every jazz show he could around Atlanta, and then started sitting in with area bands.
“Listening to some of the talented sax players around the city was education enough to build a thirst to go home and mimic what they did,” Lucas has said. “The combination of listening to a wealth of music and going to see local cats like Darian Emory, Antonio Allen, Sam Skelton, Jimmy Brown [of ’70s hitmakers Brick], and trumpeters Melvin Miller and Milkshake was truly enough to develop a personal vote of confidence and a sense of hunger.”
Early notice came with a runner-up finish at 2007’s Capital Jazz Festival Competition in Columbia, Md., just outside Washington D.C. He opened for legends like Boney James, Ronnie Laws, Nnenna Freelon, Hugh Masekela, Peabo Bryson and Michael Franks, among many others. Dee Lucas also performed at jazz festivals from Arizona to Savannah, while starting an independent record label, Mo Better Recordings, from his Atlanta base.
Concert appearances like 2021’s upcoming Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival are designed to touch on every chapter of this exciting career: “Every show I’m going to play at least one song from every record in my catalog,” Lucas told the Winston-Salem Journal.
“I’ve had several people come up to me and confess that they had a bad day at work, and then those last 90 minutes or two hours on Friday night really got them over the hump,” Lucas added. “Those are the kinds of stories I really like to hear — helping someone else out.”
The fifth annual Myrtle Beach Jazz Festival will once again be held on Carver Street, home to the historic Charlie’s Place. Dates for this year’s event are Oct. 15-17, 2021. Click here to find out how you can provide critical financial support as the festival returns after a pandemic-related pause.