Clay Benjamin spent most of his childhood listening solely to the sounds of gospel quartets - framed by the talents of Gospel Keynotes, Mighty Clouds of Joy, and his own father. But it was at age 16 that a clear-cassette-tape-wielding friend from Memphis “blew his mind”. The band was The Yellow Jackets, and their effect on the young musician was undeniable.
“I had never heard music like that,” Benjamin muses. “The contemporary fusion jazz just opened me up, introduced me to a world of music Iʼd never known.”
Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, Benjamin was actually born in nearby Palatka, Florida, and raised in Memphis — and itʼs the cityʼs rich history in southern blues and country that permeates Benjaminʼs chameleon style. His sound, driven by a contemporary rhythmic funk, still carries flavors of his Memphis roots and gospel upbringing.
Benjamin began playing guitar at age 13 in a musical family, which brought him great support. He joined his first band, One Accord, at age 16, the youngest in a key group of experienced musicians. There he started doing live recording sessions while perfecting his onstage presence. Then in 1997, Benjamin became the touring lead guitarist for smooth jazz artist Paul Howards as well as the fusion jazz group Segue. He spent years opening up for legendary artists like Chuck Loeb, Four Play, The Rippingtons, James Brown, Kool and The Gang, Ray Charles, The Commodores and even The Yellow Jackets, the band from that fateful clear cassette tape.
Benjamin went on to play for the show band Digginʼ before most recently having the opportunity to tour as the rhythm guitarist for Rev. Al Green. He has graced the stages of The Royal Albert Hall in London; The Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California; The Manchester Coliseum in Manchester, England; Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado; and the BB King Blues Club and Madison Square Garden in New York. His in-studio talent has been secured by gospel stars Uncle Reece and Tito TʼJuan and featured on Troy Sneedʼs charted gospel hit “My Heart Says Yes” and Donald Hayesʼs album Reflections Vol. 2.
Benjamin is currently embarking on his first solo jazz instrumental project, wearing the hats of performer, writer and producer with equal grace and deftness. The projectʼs first single “I Need You” was met with resounding approval when it debuted at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival early 2014. “I Need You”, as well as his 2011 album Intervention is available on iTunes, Amazon and most music web stores.
You can connect with Clay Benjamin on https://www.facebook.com/clay.benjamin40
En Last.fm, cualquier usuario puede editar las descripciones de los artistas. ¡Contribuye cuando quieras!
Todos los textos de contribuciones de usuarios en esta página están bajo la Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-CompartirIgual; es posible que se apliquen condiciones adicionales.