The drummer, composer, and educator join a long line of world-class drummers who have sat behind band leader/comedian Fred Armisen’s drum kit on Meyers’ NBC late-night show since 2015. Each week, the 8G Band welcomes a gifted player to join the band to play the show’s themes, compose original music for guest walk-ons and commercial breaks as well as keep the overall energy of the studio audience elevated throughout the taping.
The invitation came thanks to partially in part to Clark’s invited drum set clinic for The Percussive Arts Society International Conference 2023 (PASIC) in Indianapolis last November 2023. She says her presence at PASIC as a drum set artist “really catapulted this chain of events.”
Eric Leiderman, Producer at Late Night with Seth Meyers, saw Clark perform that PASIC weekend.
“Seeing a drummer whom I’m not familiar with in a live setting makes all the difference. All professional musicians can of course ‘play’ but seeing their style and musical choices in the flesh sets the tone for their success on the show. Additionally, meeting them after a gig and gauging their personality also heavily influences me on how they’ll handle the pressure and camaraderie of playing with an established band of 10 years,” says Leiderman. “Colleen ticked all those boxes for me. An easy yes. Can’t wait to have her!”
The invitation to play with the 8G Band on Late Night with Seth Meyers is a great opportunity in my career. I am thrilled to be able to represent the University of South Carolina on the national stage. It’ll be an experience.
— Colleen Clark, Assistant Professor, USC Jazz Studies
Clark has shared the stage with jazz luminaries, including Branford Marsalis, Rodney Whitaker, Catherine Russell, Camille Thurman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Mimi Jones. She’s vibrant on the scenes in NYC and the southeastern United States. She can be heard on Michael Dease’s “The Other Shoe” (Origin) and upcoming releases by CC+ The Adelitas, The Southern Pines, Michael Dease and Matt White.
There are two extraordinary people she’s looking forward to being in the audience to see her behind the iconic drum kit on the Late Night stage — her father and her high school band director, Mr. Kessler, who she says continues to be a huge influence in her life.
“My high school band director is going to come. I called him the other day and said, I can’t tell anyone, but I have two tickets. Do you want to come with my Dad? So my Dad’s going to bring him!” she says.
Clark says both helped her become the person and musician she is today.
“My Dad knew I’d be a drummer. When I came home and told him I was assigned the flute that day in fourth grade, he did my drop-off at school the next morning. He told the band director that I would start drumset lessons immediately. When the band director protested, my Dad promised him it’d be worth giving me the chance to play the drums. The rest is history.”
She says her father has always cared about her success as a music educator and performer.
“He and my mom went to so many of my concerts throughout my life, including driving 300 miles up to Ithaca, NY for percussion ensemble concerts and down to NYC to watch me play at the clubs,” says Clark. “Without a family’s support, it can be much more difficult to believe in what we do.”
As a jazz artist, Clark has been featured in DOWNBEAT magazine, invited by the ASCAP Foundation to lead her band at the Kennedy Center, was recently appointed as the Drumset Editor for Percussive Notes, the journal of the Percussive Arts Society, and is the founder of USC Jazz Girls Day.
Clark hopes the appearance will draw attention to the University of South Carolina’s jazz studies and a mission close to her heart: to get more women and girls involved in jazz.
Home to A-list celebrity guests, memorable comedy, and topical monologue jokes, Late Night With Seth Meyers airs weeknights at 12:37 a.m. EST on NBC. Watch current and past episodes on Peacock.