Ben Harper - His life and career

Essay by mytchb June 2004

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Ben Harper

Ben Harper was born on October 28 1969 in Pomona, CA. He is a succesfel pop reggae singer/songwriter. His instruments he uses are his steel string guitar and his vocals. His Guitar tones are Reflective, Passionate, Bittersweet, Earthy, Intimate, He has earned himself 6 Charts & Awards.

Combining shuddering, groove-laden funky soul and folky, handcrafted acoustics, singer/songwriter Ben Harper cultivated a cult following during the course of the '90s that gained full fruition toward the end of the decade. Harper combined elements of classic singer/songwriters, blues revivalists, Jimi Hendrix and '90s jam bands like Blues Traveler Hootie & the Blowfish and Phish which meant that he was embraced by critics and college kids alike. Though he never had a hit album, his body of work sold consistently and he toured constantly, building a solid, dedicated fan base. A native of California, Harper grew up listening to blues, folk, soul, R&B, and reggae.

As a child, he started playing guitar, and began to perform regularly as a preteen. During his adolescence, he began playing acoustic slide guitar, which would eventually become his signature instrument. After steady gigging in the Los Angeles area, Harper scored a deal with Virgin Records in 1992. He released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World two years later to positive reviews. Released in 1995, the politically - heavy Fight for Your Mind made for a strong sophomore effort, an obvious growth in musical experimentation and individual declamation. Harper's third album, 1997's The Will to Live pushed his blues-oriented alternative folk into the middle mainstream, becoming a mainstay at college radio and making inroads at adult alternative radio. Recorded over two years of touring in support of Fight for Your Mind, The Will to Live introduced the Innocent Criminals, Harper's supporting band. The Innocent...