|Birth name||Benjamin Chase Harper|
|Born||October 28, 1969|
Pomona, California, U.S.
|Genres||Folk rock, blues rock, alternative rock, soul, funk rock, gospel, reggae, jam rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, lap steel guitar, slide guitar, keyboard instruments, piano, bass, drums, percussion, vibes|
|Labels||Virgin, EMI Records|
|Associated acts|| The Blind Boys of Alabama |
Vanessa da Mata
Fistful of Mercy
The Innocent Criminals, Ellen Harper
Benjamin Chase Harper (born October 28, 1969) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae, and rock music and is known for his guitar-playing skills, vocals, live performances, and activism. He has released twelve regular studio albums, mostly through Virgin Records and has toured internationally.
Harper is a three-time Grammy Award winner and seven-time nominee, with awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album in 2004 and Best Blues Album in 2013.
At the 40th Blues Music Awards ceremony, Harper's joint composition with Charlie Musselwhite, "No Mercy in This Land", was named Song of the Year.
Harper was born in Pomona, California.His late father, Leonard Harper, was of African-American and Cherokee ancestry, and his mother, Ellen Verdries Chase Harper, is Jewish. His maternal great-grandmother was a Russian-Lithuanian Jew. His parents divorced when he was five years old, and he grew up with his mother's family. Harper has two brothers, Joel Harper and Peter Harper.
Harper began playing guitar as a child. 5His maternal grandparents' music store, the Folk Music Center and Museum, laid a foundation of folk and blues for the artist, complemented by regular patrons Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal, John Darnielle, and David Lindley and quotes of William Shakespeare and Robert Frost made often by his grandfather. :
In 1978, at the age of 9, Harper attended Bob Marley's performance in Burbank, California, where Marley was joined by former bandmate Peter Tosh for the encore. It was, according to Harper, an important influence.
At the age of 12, Harper played his first gig. 11 Harper escaped from the Inland Empire after being offered an invitation by Taj Mahal to tour with the artist. They recorded Taj Mahal's album Follow the Drinking Gourd , released in November 1990, and toured Hawaii.During the 1980s, in his teen years, Harper began to play the slide guitar, mimicking the style of Robert Johnson. Harper refined his style, taking up the Weissenborn slide guitar. :
In 1992, Harper recorded the LP Pleasure and Pain with folk multi-instrumentalist Tom Freund. After this limited-edition record, Harper secured a lifetime record deal with Virgin Records,which released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World , in 1994. This allowed him to be invited to the Rencontres Trans Musicales of Rennes in France in December 1993 where he went up on a large stage for the first time.
His first album was followed by Fight For Your Mind in 1995, with Juan Nelson on bass, which became a college radio favorite and included several songs that Harper still plays live regularly.
In 1999, at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Harper met Jack Johnson and sent a demo tape of Johnson's songs to his producer, J. P. Plunier, who then produced Johnson's first album, Brushfire Fairytales , in December 2000.Jack Johnson became the opening act in late February 2001 for the last 23 cities of Ben Harper's “Innocent Criminals” tour of the United States.
Early in Harper's career, his music received more attention in Europe and was widely played in Australia (first on Triple J radio). Harper has made comments on a number of occasions that his career was kicked off in Australia. While he was a well-known and respected figure in the United States, he was also a star in countries like Australia, New Zealand, France, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, receiving a great deal of airplay and critical acclaim. His popularity in Europe became wide enough that he was French Rolling Stone magazine's Artist of the Year (Artiste De L'Année) in 2003,and his Australian tour that year for Diamonds on the Inside was highly successful with record sales.
In 2002, Harper was one of the featured singers covering Motown hits by Marvin Gaye in the documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown (a history of The Funk Brothers). Harper was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Gwen Stefani / No Doubt, Bonnie Raitt, Manu Chao, The Roots, Ryan Adams, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Paul Douglas, Jackie Jackson, Ken Boothe, and The Skatalites.
On April 3, 2004, Harper and Jack Johnson performed with Toots and the Maytals on Saturday Night Live (season 29, episode 16), a show hosted by Donald Trump.
In October 2004, Harper participated in the Vote for Change concert tour organized to benefit Moveon.org and encourage people in the swing states to vote during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. In the same month, Harper contributed a live recording of the song "Oppression" to For The Lady , a benefit album for jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner and Burmese pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi.
In 2006, Harper released the double album Both Sides of the Gun which debuted at number 7 on the Billboard 200. Though uncredited, he appears briefly in the 2006 David Lynch film Inland Empire , alongside his wife Laura Dern.
Harper is part of the No Nukes group which is against the expansion of nuclear power. In 2007 the group recorded a music video of a new version of the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth".Harper's collaboration "Boa Sorte/Good Luck" with Brazilian singer Vanessa da Mata peaked at #1 in Brazil and Portugal. In Brazil it also won a highly coveted Prêmio Multishow for "Best Song" in 2008. Also in 2008, Harper participated in the benefit album Songs for Tibet .
On August 27, 2010, it was reported that Harper had formed a band called Fistful of Mercy with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur.Fistful of Mercy released their debut record, As I Call You Down, on October 5, 2010.
On May 17, 2011, Harper's official site posted that his next album was released, entitled Give Till It's Gone. The album is a continuation of recording with Relentless7.
On October 1, 2012, a new album from Harper with Charlie Musselwhite was announced entitled Get Up! on Stax Records / Concord Music Group. The official release date for the album was January 29, 2013. Get Up! was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Harper. It is Harper's 12th studio album and first new recording since 2011's Give Till It's Gone (Virgin).
In December 2012, it was announced that Harper had co-produced lead vocalist Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks first solo rock album Mother .It was released on May 7, 2013.
In early 2015, it was announced that Harper and The Innocent Criminals would perform at the Boston Calling Music Festival in May 2015.Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals performed at Rock Werchter Festival 2015 on June 28, 2015.
Harper has five albums and one single that have been certified Gold by the RIAA. Welcome The Cruel World/Virgin, Burn To Shine/Virgin, Fight For Your Mind/Virgin, Live From Mars/Virgin, Diamonds On The Inside/Capitol-Virgin and You Found Another Lover/Stax (single)
On 12 February 2016, Harper released (as a YouTube video) his new single "Call It What It Is", first track taken from his upcoming new studio album Call It What It Is due to be released on 8 April 2016.
On 8 April 2019, Harper performed as a guest artist on the seventeenth season of American Idol during the second night of the “Top 20 Duets” episode. Harper sang with contestant Alejandro Aranda, playing "There Will Be a Light".[ citation needed ]
At the 40th Blues Music Awards ceremony, Harper's joint composition with Charlie Musselwhite, "No Mercy In This Land", was named as 'Song of the Year'.
On March 20, 2019, Mavis Staples announced a new album We Get By , featuring eleven tracks written and produced by Harper.The title track, which features Harper on vocals and in the music video, was released on May 15, 2019.
In 2020 Harper released Winter Is for Lovers, an album recorded with solo Monteleone lap steel songs. "It started out as an exploration of steel guitar," Harper told Acoustic Guitar magazine in a 2020 interview, "Winter Is for Lovers is written as one piece of music; let’s define that in the way that the old classical guitarists would have, on a single guitar (the Monteleone lap steel)."
In 1996, Harper married his first wife, Joanna.They have two children together, son Charles (born circa 1997) and daughter Harris (born circa 2000). Harper and Joanna separated in 2000, and were divorced in 2001.
Harper began dating actress Laura Dern after they met at one of his concerts in fall 2000.Harper and Dern married on December 23, 2005 at their home in Los Angeles. They have two children, son Ellery Walker (born August 2001) and daughter Jaya (born November 2004).
In October 2010, Harper filed for divorce from Dern, citing irreconcilable differences.They briefly reconciled and attended the 2012 Golden Globe Awards together, but Dern reactivated the divorce by filing a legal response in July 2012. The divorce was finalized in September 2013.
Harper married his third wife, social advocate Jaclyn Matfus, on January 1, 2015.Their son Besso was born in June 2017.
Harper is a skateboarder who has trained with Rodney Mullen and he also owns a warehouse for his personal skateboarding. Harper co-owns the skateboarding brand Roller Horror with professional skateboarder Mike York.In September 2016, Harper appeared on The Nine Club skateboard podcast, hosted by Chris Roberts, where he discussed his relationship and history with skateboarding. On The Nine Club, he also reveals that he went to school and began skateboarding with Chris Miller in Pomona, California.
Harper's cousin is Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez.
Harper supports Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit organization that works to restore and revitalize music education in disadvantaged U.S. public schools. In 2013, he donated items to their San Francisco Bay Area benefit concert.
On December 11, 2016, he played an acoustic benefit concert at Bimbos in San Francisco supporting New Light India's "Boys Home Project". Founded in 2000 by Urmi Basu, New Light India provides shelter, educational opportunities, recreational facilities, healthcare and legal aid for the girls and women in Kalighat, notorious for its red light district.
|2003||Rolling Stone (France)||Artist of the Year|
|2005||Grammy Award||Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance|
|2005||Grammy Award||Grammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album|
|2014||Grammy Award||Grammy Award for Best Blues Album|
|1998–2001||Daria||Episode: "See Jane Run" (Song: "Faded")|
Episode: "Camp Fear" (Song: "Burn to Shine")
|2001||I Am Sam||Song: "Strawberry Fields Forever"|
|2002||Standing in the Shadows of Motown||Songs: "Ain't Too Proud To Beg"/"I Heard It Through the Grapevine"|
|Searching for Debra Winger||Song: "The Three of Us"|
|2003||rage||Episode: "Grinspoon Guest Program Rage"|
Song: "Ground on Down"
|One Tree Hill||Episode: "Crash Into You"|
Song: "Empty Apartment"
|Joan of Arcadia||Episode: "Death Be Not Whatever"|
Song: "Blessed to Be a Witness"
|2004||Saturday Night Live||Episode: "Donald Trump/Toots and the Maytals"|
Song: "Love Gonna Walk Out on Me"
|Sleepover||Song: "Walk Away"|
|2005||Trust the Man||Song: "Everything"|
|2006||Akeelah and the Bee||Song: "Everything"|
|The O.C.||Episode: "The Dawn Patrol"|
Song: "Waiting For You"
|CSI: NY||Episode: "And Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael"|
Song: "Walk Away"
|Ultimate Sessions||Song: "Whipping Boy"|
|2007||Arctic Tale||Song: "Happy Ever After in Your Eyes"|
|2008||Henry Poole Is Here||Song: "Morning Yearning"|
|Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub||Song: "People Lead"|
|Daylight Robbery||Song: "Diamonds On The Inside"|
|2009||State of Play||Song: "Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating"|
|House||Episode: "Brave Heart"|
Song: "Faithfully Remain"
|2010||Late Night with Jimmy Fallon||Episode: 2.152 (Song: "Father's Song")|
Episode: 2.7 (Songs: "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Walk With You")
|Les Petits Mouchoirs||Song: "Amen Omen"|
|Vampire Diaries||Episode: Katerina|
Song: "Amen Omen"
|The Fighter||Song: "Glory & Consequence"|
|Close to the Dream||Song: "Better Way"|
|2010–2011||Conan||Episode: October 11, 2010 (Song: "Father's Son")|
Episode: May 25, 2011 (Song: "Rock n' Roll is Free")
|2011||Wretches & Jabberers||Song: "More Like You"|
|2012||The Girl||Song: "Waiting on an Angel"|
|Redfern Now||Episode: Raymond|
Song: "Not Fire Not Ice"
|Bones Brigade: An Autobiography|
|2010–2013||Late Show with David Letterman||Episode February 2, 2012 (Song: "Lay There & Hate Me")|
Episode May 18, 2011 (Song: "Rock n' Roll is Free")
Episode April 29, 2013 (Song: "We Can't End This Way")
|2011–2013||The Tonight Show with Jay Leno||Episode May 24, 2011 (Song: "Rock n' Roll is Free")|
Episode November 18, 2011 (Song: "Save the Hammer for the Man")
January 22, 2013 (Song: "I Don't Believe a Word You Say")
|2014||The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson||Episode: June 13, 2014|
Song: "Learn It All Again Tomorrow"
Island Records is a British-Jamaican record label owned by Universal Music Group. It was founded in 1959 by Chris Blackwell, Graeme Goodall, and Leslie Kong in Jamaica, and was eventually sold to PolyGram in 1989. Island and A&M Records, another label recently acquired by PolyGram, were both at the time the largest independent record labels in history, with Island having exerted a major influence on the progressive music scene in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s. Island Records operates four international divisions: Island UK, Island US, Island Australia, and Island France. Current key people include Island US president Darcus Beese, OBE and MD Jon Turner. Partially due to its significant legacy, Island remains one of UMG's pre-eminent record labels.
David Nesta "Ziggy" Marley is a Jamaican musician and philanthropist. He is the son of reggae icon Bob Marley and Rita Marley. He led the family band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, with whom he released eight studio albums. He has also released seven solo albums. Marley is an eight-time Grammy Award winner and a Daytime Emmy Award recipient.
Fight for Your Mind is the second album by Ben Harper. Released in August 1995, it was his last solo album before adding the Innocent Criminals to his line-up. Reviews were generally very positive, praising Harper's fusion of multiple genres, from folk, folk rock, and politically charged reggae.
Robben Lee Ford is an American blues, jazz, and rock guitarist. He was a member of the L.A. Express and Yellowjackets and has collaborated with Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Larry Carlton, Rick Springfield, Little Feat and Kiss. He was named one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century" by Musician magazine.
Welcome to the Cruel World is Ben Harper's debut album from Virgin Records. Released in 1994, the album established Harper as a popular folk musician in the California area. After this release, Harper went on to add a permanent backing band, the Innocent Criminals, although they remained unnamed until the Burn to Shine album.
The Will to Live is a 1997 album by Ben Harper which showed his continuing folk-centric focus, while at the same time expanding on his rock talents. This was his third album, his second with the Innocent Criminals (uncredited), and was packaged with a special bonus CD in certain countries.
Burn to Shine is an album by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, released in 1999 on Virgin Records America. Harper's fourth album, it shows him working within many different genres, including blues, rock, soul, and folk. The songs "Steal My Kisses" and "Suzie Blue" became successful on college radio. Like most other Harper albums, different versions were released in different regions within varying bonus material.
Jack Hody Johnson is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor, record producer, documentary filmmaker and former professional surfer. Johnson is known primarily for his work in the soft rock and acoustic pop genres. In 2001, he achieved commercial success after the release of his debut album, Brushfire Fairytales. Johnson has reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart with his albums Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George in 2006, Sleep Through the Static in 2008, To the Sea in 2010 and From Here to Now to You in 2013. His album In Between Dreams peaked at number two on the chart in 2005 and again in 2013.
The Maytals, known from 1972 to 2020 as Toots and the Maytals, are a Jamaican musical group, one of the best known ska and rocksteady vocal groups. The Maytals were formed in the early 1960s and were key figures in popularizing reggae music.
Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidor, Baron Thielemans, known professionally as Toots Thielemans, was a Belgian jazz musician. He was mostly known for his harmonica playing, as well as his guitar, whistling skills, and composing. According to jazz historian Ted Gioia, his most important contribution was in "championing the humble harmonica", which Thielemans made into a "legitimate voice in jazz". He eventually became the "preeminent" jazz harmonica player.
Rachael Yamagata is an American singer-songwriter and pianist from Arlington, Virginia. She began her musical career with the band Bumpus before becoming a solo artist and releasing five EPs and four studio albums. Her songs have appeared on numerous television shows and she has collaborated with Jason Mraz, Rhett Miller, Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, Toots and the Maytals and Ray Lamontagne.
Charles Douglas Musselwhite is an American electric blues harmonica player and bandleader, one of the white bluesmen who came to prominence in the early 1960s, along with Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield. He has often been identified as a "white bluesman". Musselwhite was reportedly the inspiration for Elwood Blues; the character played by Dan Aykroyd in the 1980 film, The Blues Brothers.
Both Sides of the Gun, is Ben Harper's seventh album, released in 2006. Split into two discs, the title suggests the two sides of Harper's musical nature. The first disc ("White") is made of mostly acoustic and string-driven songs hinted at on the last track of Harper's previous album Diamonds on the Inside. The second disc ("Black") is made up of the more rock and upbeat material and touching on genres such as hard rock, funk and gospel.
Marc Ford is an American blues-rock guitarist. He is a former lead guitarist of the rock and roll band The Black Crowes, the former lead guitarist of The Magpie Salute and the leader of his own bands: Burning Tree, Marc Ford & The Neptune Blues Club, Jefferson Steelflex, Fuzz Machine and Marc Ford & The Sinners.
Funky Kingston is the name of two albums by Jamaican reggae group Toots and the Maytals. The first was issued in Jamaica and the United Kingdom in 1972 on Dragon Records, a subsidiary label of Island Records, owned by Chris Blackwell. A different album, with the same cover and title, was issued in the United States in 1975 on Mango Records. That album peaked at #164 on the Billboard 200 and was voted the eleventh best album of 1975 in the annual Pazz & Jop poll. In 2003, the American version was placed at #378 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and 380 in a 2012 revised list.
Lifeline is an album by Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals. It was recorded in Paris in the fall of 2006 after the lengthy European leg of the Both Sides of the Gun tour. Harper and the Innocent Criminals wrote the tracks while on tour and would rehearse the songs during sound checks while at each venue. Recorded in only seven days on analog, the album was released on August 28, 2007. It is Harper's eighth album.
"Just Your Fool" is a rhythm and blues-style song written and recorded by the American jazz and jump blues bandleader/pianist Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra in 1953. Called an "R&B anthem", the song has a big-band arrangement and his sister Ella Johnson on vocals—her "delicate and deceptively sweet phrasing was ideally suited to ballads such as this". "I'm Just Your Fool" became a Billboard R&B chart record hit, reaching number six in 1954.
Get Up! is an album by the American musicians Charlie Musselwhite and Ben Harper, their twenty-ninth and eleventh album, respectively. It was released in January 2013 under Stax Records. In 2019, the song You Found Another Lover was certified Gold by RIAA
The discography of Ben Harper consists of fifteen studio albums, five live albums, two digital albums, three concert films and three miscellaneous albums.
English translation from an article originally in French.