BEN HARPER (USA)
Californian born singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper crosses boundaries in American music. Harper was born in 1969 to an African-American father and Russian Jewish mother; he grew up immersed in blues, folk, reggae and rock. Releasing his debut album Welcome To The Cruel World in 1992 found Harper offering a largely acoustic album. In sharp contrast Harper’s next album Fight For Your Mind was a raging slice of blues-rock that recalled Jimi Hendrix at the height of his powers.
Harper’s ability to blend the raw with the gentle, matched with his considerable guitar prowess (he is a master of the Weissenborn guitar that is played seated), has made him one of the world’s top concert draws and in France and Australia his popularity approaches superstar status. Harper’s never been content to rest on his laurels and his fluid musical abilities have found him exploring many areas of music – the one that attracted the most acclaim was There Will Be A Light, his 2004 collaboration album with legendary gospel quartet The Blind Boys Of Alabama. There Will Be A Light pushed gospel into new areas while bringing Harper into contact with the very roots of his musical style. The album went on to win two Grammy awards and put Harper on a world tour with The Blind Boys – their live prowess was captured on an exceptional DVD Live At The Apollo.
Harper returned in 2006 with a double CD of original material Both Sides Of The Gun. Harper claims he was so inspired by his experience of working with The Blind Boys that the songs flowed out of him – none more so than Black Rain, which he wrote about Hurricane Katrina and its tragic aftermath.
"I had to make the picture as clear as the event," says Harper of the string-powered slice of soul. "Because if that can happen here - that disregard for human life - and we allow that to happen to the citizens of this country, then all bets are off. And if there's no justice in day-to-day living, there's for damn sure gonna be some justice in my music."
Ben Harper's website
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