Meshing fresh, rhythm-driven neo-soul sounds with visceral acoustic folk-jams, singer-songwriter [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Ben Harper[/lastfm] has used the multi-racial, musical influences of his past to imbue his blues revivalist aesthetics with an eclectic touch of the modern jam band.
Harper will celebrate the release of his sixteenth album, Give Till It’s Gone, and show off the amalgamation of his extensive discography, his almost twenty year career span, his musical upbringing, his global consciousness and the varied inspirations of his music for the Live on Letterman webcast on May 18th, 8pm ET / 5pm PT, which you can watch right here.
Growing up in the laid-back college town of Claremont, California, Ben Harper played guitar from a very young age, with his first show being at the tender age of twelve. This was thanks to the influence of his maternal grandparents who own a music store called the The Folk Music Center and Museum.
Much of Harper’s early musical leanings of blues, folk-tinged soul, reggae and beat-punctuated acoustic slide guitar, still translate to his current sound on upcoming Give Till It’s Gone.
This sonic prowess garnered Harper a deal with Virgin Records in 1992 on which he subsequently released his major label debut, 1994’s Welcome to the Cruel World, to encouraging critical accolades.
“Waiting on an Angel”
While his next two albums, 1995’s Fight For Your Mind and 1997’s Will To Live also met positive reviews, Harper’s initial success was with the underground college rock scene and the European and Australian crowds–who gave Harper massive airplay on popular Triple J radio.
Harper finally broke through the sonic barrier with his commercially successful radio single “Steal My Kisses” in 2000 from his 1999 album, Burn to Shine.
His newfound popularity saw him headlining two world tours, opening for[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”] Dave Matthews Band [/lastfm] in the summer of 2000, and “discovering” now popular surfer-turned-songwriter,[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”] Jack Johnson[/lastfm].
“Steal My Kisses”
While Harper was working on his massively successful fifth studio effort, 2003’s Diamonds on the Inside,and being heralded as Artist Of The Year by French Rolling Stone, he was also flexing his political and social muscle by playing shows for Moveon.org called Vote for Change and working on a live recording of the song “Oppression” which was featured on For The Lady–a benefit album for imprisoned Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Since 2003, Harper has recorded several more albums, including 2006’s smash Australian hit, Both Sides of the Gun (with the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Innocent Criminals[/lastfm]), 2007’s Lifeline and 2009’s White Lies for Dark Times with the band [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Relentless7[/lastfm].
“Oppression/Get Up Stand Up” (Acoustic)
In 2010, Ben Harper started a band called [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Fistful of Mercy [/lastfm]with [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Dhani Harrison [/lastfm] ([lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]George Harrison[/lastfm] from the [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Beatles[/lastfm]’ son) and popular singer-songwriter, [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Joseph Arthur[/lastfm].
The folksy, guitar-driven three-piece musical elite played Coachella 2011, but not until it was announced that Harper would be releasing his highly-anticipated forthcoming full-length Give Till It’s Gone with the first single to be “Rock ‘n Roll Is Free.”
“Rock ‘n Roll Is Free”