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Eric Benet – From barefoot dreadlocked troubadour to suave standard-bearer for contemporary R&B. Eric Benét may have changed his look, but one thing has remained consistent:his dedication to crafting authentic music that engages the soul.
“I’m not chasing any current whatevers,” says Benét, a four-time Grammy Award nominee. “It’s about music that gives me goose bumps and touches my soul. That’s always been a good barometer for me.”
Case in point: the singer-songwriter’s latest top 5 Urban AC single, “Sunshine.” The pure soul/R&B track provides the perfect backdrop for Benét’s heartfelt reflections on a relationship that has lost its spark. The hit has since sparked a remix version featuring Tamia—the singer’s memorable duet partner on his career breakthrough hit, 1999’s “Spend My Life with You.”
“‘Spend’ is almost like the national anthem vocally,” notes Benét. “You’ve got to have so much in your arsenal to successfully sing it. Not many singers can do that. But Tamia is all that and more. So it was such a joy to reunite with her on the ‘Sunshine’ remix.”
Both tracks are featured on Benét’s eighth studio album. The self-titled, 13-song project, available Oct. 7 from Jordan House/Primary Wave Music, once again showcases the depth of the singer-songwriter’s musical scope. “Sometimes it’s almost like artists pick a color and stay with that for most of an album,” says Benét. “I don’t like to do one-note albums.”
Thus, fans are in store for another aural treat from Benét and his longtime collaborator Demonte Posey. There’s the unadulterated, unfiltered sex appeal of the ‘80s-vibed “Insane,” which is already being ramped up as the follow-up to first single “Sunshine.” From there the album veers into a combination of Cameo and Minneapolis funk on “Cold Trigger” before rap icon and longtime friend MC Lyte joins in on the fun “Holding On.” Famed jazz musician Arturo Sandoval lends his talents to the Afro Cuban-spiced “Run to Me,” a sonorous ride that Benét describes as “Latin meets soul.”
Adds the singer, whose smooth tenor-to-falsetto range still rings crystal clear, “When you listen to my songs, they start off with nice intros and builds. Then they slowly bring you back down to earth. I wanted to do that with this album too: take people on a journey, get their hearts jumping and feet moving before getting down to the intimate and lovely side of things.”
That musical M.O. dates back to the Milwaukee native’s early days, first as the singer for a pop group called Gerard in the late ‘80s. Later, as a founding member of the band Benét with his sister Lisa and cousin George Nash in the early ‘90s, Benét began experimenting with all the voices he was hearing in his head.
“Back then I was discovering who I was artistically,” he recalls. “I was so influenced by Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Chaka Khan, the Beatles, Queen. It was just this hodgepodge of where do I go with all of this?”
Benét ultimately went straight to Warner Bros., who signed him as a solo artist in 1994. His 1996 solo debut True to Myself put both music fans and the industry on notice. But it was the 1999 sophomore set A Day in the Life, featuring “Georgy Porgy” as well as his first No. 1 R&B single, “Spend My Life with You” featuring Tamia, that hit home. What doubled as Benét’s career breakthrough became a gold record that later notched his first Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. Since then the singer has released five more studio albums, scored more hits including “You’re the Only One” and “Sometimes I Cry” and added three more Grammy nods—the most recent in 2012 for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Sometimes I Cry.”
Beyond music, Benét is heavily involved in two charitable organizations. Mission Save Her (http://missionsaveher.org), co-founded by him and actor/singer Reggie Benjamin, fights against the human trafficking, slavery and sexual abuse of women and girls around the world. In a Perfect World (www.iapw.org.), established by Benét’s wife Manuela Testolini, pushes to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy in economically poor countries like Haiti, Nicaragua and Senegal. Now in its 10th year, the organization has just built its 30th school and, in the process, benefited more than 30,000 children and teens around the world.
Currently celebrating the 20th anniversary of his solo debut, Benét believes one thing accounts for his ongoing success.
“When my sister and I recorded our first album as Benét,” recalls the singer, “we had some control creatively but not all. The label put out a single and then dropped us right away. I told myself then that if I ever got the chance to do another record, I was going to have complete autonomy. That I was just going to do music that made me fall in love with music.”
Going out on a 16-date tour starting Oct. 6 with fellow contemporary R&B standard-bearers Anthony Hamilton and Lalah Hathaway, Benét relishes the opportunity to keep paying it forward. “The conversation that happens between me and the audience while I’m performing compares to almost nothing. At the end of the day, my heart lives in R&B/soul. In fact, I feel like I’m just getting started.”
Faith Renée Evans is a multi-platinum Grammy Award winning recording artist, songwriter, arranger and record producer. Faith is also a New York Times best-selling author, an entrepreneur, a TV executive producer and most importantly — a mother. With so many hats to be worn, it is undeniable that Faith has a little something for everyone. Through what has been an equally rewarding and trying career, ask her how she’s come this far and she’ll simply reply, “FAITH.”
With a music career spanning over two decades, Faith has released eight studio albums, with over 18 million albums sold and spawning over 30 singles. Faith has also performed on 20+ soundtracks and a host of guest appearances during her career. Faith Evans is a seven-time Grammy nominee; winning “Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group” in 1998 for “I’ll Be Missing You,” an homage to her late husband and hip-hop legend Notorious B.I.G.
Faith has three Platinum-certified albums under her belt, including: “Faith” (1995), “Keep The Faith” (1998) and “Faithfully” (2001); the Gold-certified “The First Lady” (2005), and the holiday staple, “A Faithful Christmas” (2005). In 2008, Faith penned her New York Times Best Selling Book, “Keep the Faith: A Memoir” with Aliya King, which won the 2009 African American Literary Award in the “Best Biography/Memoir” category. The memoir is currently available in hardback, paperback and in e-book format at most major retailers. In 2010, Faith released her first independent album through her music imprint Prolific Music Group and E1 Music, titled “Something About Faith”. The lead single “Gone Already” was nominated for “Best Female R&B Vocal Performance” for the 2011 Grammy Awards. In August 2012, Faith co-created, executive produced and starred in an original reality series, “R&B Divas”, which became cable network TV One’s most watched original premiere in the history of the network and later released a compilation album of the same name. The “R&B Divas” album earned Faith her seventh Grammy nomination for “Best R&B Album” for the 2014 Grammy Awards.
In November 2014, Faith released her eighth studio album, “Incomparable”, on Prolific Music Group, with distribution through BMG Chrysalis. “Incomparable” reached number 17 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart and number 27 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. “Incomparable” includes the lead single “I Deserve It” featuring Missy Elliott and Sharaya J and the follow up second single “Make Love”, featuring Keke Wyatt, is currently climbing up the Urban AC radio airplay charts. The album also includes guest features from Problem, B. Slade & Karen Clark-Sheard and production by Mike City, Chucky Thompson, MyGuyMars and Brian Morgan.