The earliest and one of the best tracks is Benjamin's bare and tender rendition of "I’ve Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good." Recorded in Paris, she is accompanied on piano by none other than Duke Ellington. Ellington, the song’s composer, instructed Svend Asmussen to play pizzicato violin on the song, giving the song a unique touch.
Three of the South African singer's original songs are on the disc, including the dramatic "Africa," the flowing "Music," and the anthemic "Children of Soweto," which takes on a hymnal or gospel quality. These numbers offer a welcome change from the standards that are on the album.
Benjamin, 70, isn’t a belter. She works in nuances and is a master of subtle inflections and well-placed pauses. Good examples of this are found on the exquisite "It Never Entered My Mind." Recorded in 1973, Benjamin is joined on the Rodgers and Hart song by her husband, jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. There are times when her voice is barely above a whisper, but it is a powerful performance. It is the disc’s only previously unreleased track.
Noted pianist Kenny Barron plays on three songs.
But, this is Benjamin’s showcase, and SongSpirit shows how good she has been all these years.