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Thursday, April 18, 2024

A Rising Star East of the River

People have many things to love about living East of the River. We have beautiful green spaces. There are amazing historical landmarks and history. For me, however, I value our unique community that is creative, enterprising and nourishing.

This month, I interviewed 11-year-old Jayden Benjamin, better known by his entertainment name “Man Man,” and his father Joshua Benjamin who serves as his manager. The conversation was inspired by the young man’s performance, which I saw during a Black History Month celebration at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

During COVID, the Benjamin family found themselves, like many of us, confined at home. It was during this time that Man Man’s father recognized his son’s innate musical talent.

“I heard him reciting music lyrics. He had the emotion in the words and everything!” His father began to ask Man Man to read lyrics to songs. He was taken aback by his son’s ability to memorize them. He often refers to him as “a human almanac.”

Man Man has been accompanying his father in the studio since the age of three, recording his first hit song at the age of eight. Now 11, he is launching his first city-wide tour this summer. His father introduced him to knowledgeable people in the music industry to help develop and strengthen critical skills such as recording etiquette and studio decorum. With partners, his father created the label “Every Dream is Possible.” Man Man has recorded several hit songs and sang in live performances.

Off-stage, Man Man is a sweet spirited 11-year-old. During the interview, he was reserved, honest, and very respectful. Red, I learned, is his favorite color. Math is his favorite school subject. And he loves football.

Man Man’s musical journey speaks to the strong bond between father and son. It also illustrates our community’s resilience during a time of global uncertainty. It takes a bravery to dream, imagining the impossible.

Keep up with Man Man’s music at www.music.apple.com/us/album/ok-radio-edit-single/1647502723. You can watch him perform at www.youtube.com/@youngjefemanman

Follow Man Man on Instagram: www.Instagram.com/manman.1231/

Leniqua’dominique Jenkins works on the DC Council but the views expressed here are her own. She can be reached at jenkinseastoftheriver@gmail.com.

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