By Guest Nicole
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La carriera del musicista e cantante George Benson inizia a 21 anni; il suo primo genere è il jazz, presso il quale si accredita anche per la propria geniale padronanza della tecnica dello scat. Suona come chitarrista per la band di Jack McDuff; incide il suo primo album (The New Boss Guitar) per la Prestige (1967), cui fanno seguito It's Uptown with the George Benson Quartet e The George Benson Cookbook. Cominciano anche le collaborazioni più prestigiose, quali Miles Davis (per l'LP Miles in the Sky, ove Benson accompagna alla chitarra il pezzo Paraphernalia) ed Herbie Hancock.
Il primo grande successo individuale per Benson arriva nel 1976, con l'album Breezin’, dal quale viene ricavato il singolo This Masquerade (destinato ad entrare a far parte della colonna sonora del film La ricerca della felicità, 2006, di G.Muccino). L'album si aggiudica il Grammy Award; il suo autore si rivela, oltre che grande compositore e cantante, un innovatore nel campo dell'acustica, gettando le basi, con la 'storica' Ibanez GB 10, per le specifiche tecniche di amplificazione sonora che avrebbero caratterizzato per decenni il chitarrismo jazz. Nel 1978 realizza l'album The Other Side of Abbey Road, rivisitazione jazz di alcuni brani del celebre disco dei Beatles.
E' del 1979 - anno della sua conversione ai testimoni di Geova - un altro grande successo di Benson, il doppio Livin’ Inside Your Love; compone il brano The Greatest Love of All, che, oltre a costituire la colonna sonora per il film The Greatest con Cassius Clay (in italiano Io sono il più grande, 1977 di T.Gries), diventerà anni dopo un grande successo di Whitney Houston. L'album del 1980 Give Me the Night gli vale un altro Grammy per The Best R&B Vocal Performance. Vince l'ennesimo Grammy per Being with You, singolo estratto dall'album In Your Eyes (1984). Negli anni successivi continua a lavorare intensamente, fra gli altri con Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Luciano Pavarotti, Ray Charles; si produce in tributi a famosi musicisti del passato (Nat King Cole) e nella produzione di molti brani originali.
Complessivamente incide oltre 60 dischi fra album da studio, raccolte greatest hits e registrazioni live. Fino al 2014, George Benson aveva vinto ben dieciGrammy Awards per la migliore performance strumentale o vocale; nel 2008 il National Endowment for the Arts gli conferisce il Jazz Master, la più alta onorificenza mondiale per la musica jazz.
Il sito ufficiale di George Benson (inglese):
Video. Tre leggende viventi (nel 1991) del pop:
George Benson, Ray Charles, Chaka Khan interpretano “live” il brano This Masquerade.
Copertine di alcuni album di successo di George Benson
Video. Benson interpreta il cantico "Benedici Geova, anima mia",
tratto dal libretto dei cantici dei testimoni di Geova (edizione 1986).
By The Librarian
Two of the original songs released last year, "I Give You My Best" & "Jehovah Welcomes You Home" were performed by George Benson, and the first one was a duet with singer Sheila Hutchinson, the same one who did duets with him over 10 years ago for the cancelled album mentioned in Our Kingdom Ministry. Compare this:
which is part of this series:
The question remains however as to who was Sheila Hutchinson?
By The Librarian
Part of a series on:
This Grammy-Award winning Jazz guitarist is another well-known Witness of Jehovah. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, where he began playing music outside a corner store at age seven, Benson’s accomplishments also include a triple platinum album (Breezin’) and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Benson enjoyed making music that is about love and romance, but without the crudeness often present in such lyrics. In this, as well as in the healthy relationship he’s maintained with his beloved wife Johnnie Lee since the 60’s, Benson is a shining example of how fame and fortune need not turn one away from serving Jehovah.
Brother Benson started to study the Bible in the 1970's after his beloved cousin was tragically murdered. In an online interview, George explained how he learned the Truth: ”For me [studying with Jehovah's Witnesses] answered a lot of my questions about life and another thing about going to different churches was I got a chance to see how other people think so none of that was wasted. I had a chance to see what motivated other people so the value was still there. My mother took me to all these different places to learn about religion in general and for me the thing that I was looking for was found with the Jehovah's Witnesses. They are very demanding in that they stick to bible principles and they do not waiver from it. I like that about them more than anything else.” He was baptized in 1979.
Brother Benson is now 71 years old and has been faithfully serving Jehovah for some 36 years.
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George Benson (born March 22, 1943) is a ten-time Grammy Award-winning American musician and singer-songwriter. He began his professional career at twenty-one, as a jazz guitarist. Benson uses a rest-stroke picking technique similar to that of gypsy jazz players such as Django Reinhardt.
A former child prodigy, Benson first came to prominence in the 1960s, playing soul jazz with Jack McDuff and others. He then launched a successful solo career, alternating between jazz, pop, R&B singing, and scat singing. His album Breezin' was certified triple-platinum on the Billboard 200 chart in 1976. His concerts were well attended through the 1980s, and still has a large following. He has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Early career and personal lifeBenson was born and raised in the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the age of seven, he first played the ukulele in a corner drug store, for which he was paid a few dollars . At the age of eight, he played guitar in an unlicensed nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights, but the police soon closed the club down. At the age of 10, he recorded his first single record, "She Makes Me Mad", with RCA-Victor in New York, under the name "Little Georgie".
Benson attended and graduated Schenley High School. As a youth, instead, he learned how to play straight-ahead instrumental jazz during a relationship performing for several years with organist Jack McDuff. One of his many early guitar heroes was country-jazz guitarist Hank Garland. At the age of 21, he recorded his first album as leader, The New Boss Guitar, featuring McDuff. Benson's next recording was It's Uptown with the George Benson Quartet, including Lonnie Smith on organ and Ronnie Cuber on baritone saxophone. Benson followed it up with The George Benson Cookbook, also with Lonnie Smith and Ronnie Cuber on baritone and drummer Marion Booker. Miles Davis employed Benson in the mid-1960s, featuring his guitar on "Paraphernalia" on his 1968 Columbia release, Miles in the Sky before going to Verve Records.
Benson then signed with Creed Taylor's jazz label CTI Records, where he recorded several albums, with jazz heavyweights guesting, to some success, mainly in the jazz field. His 1974 release, Bad Benson, climbed to the top spot in the Billboard jazz chart, while the follow-ups, Good King Bad (#51 Pop album) and Benson and Farrell (with Joe Farrell), both reached the jazz top-three sellers. Benson also did a version of The Beatles's 1969 album Abbey Road called The Other Side of Abbey Road, also released in 1969, and a version of "White Rabbit", originally written and recorded by San Francisco rock group Great Society, and made famous by Jefferson Airplane. Benson played on numerous sessions for other CTI artists during this time, including Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine, notably on the latter's acclaimed album Sugar.
Benson is a devout Jehovah's Witness and has been married to Johnnie Lee since 1965. Citing his faith, Benson describes his music as focusing more on love and romance, rather than sexuality.
1970s and 1980s
By the mid- to late 1970s, as he recorded for Warner Bros. Records, a whole new audience began to discover Benson. With the 1976 release Breezin', Benson sang a lead vocal on the track "This Masquerade", which became a huge pop hit and won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. (He had sung vocals infrequently on albums earlier in his career, notably his rendition of "Here Comes the Sun" on the Other Side of Abbey Road album.) The rest of the album is instrumental, including his rendition of the 1975 Jose Feliciano composition "Affirmation". Breezin′ was a significant album in terms of popular music history – the first jazz release to go platinum.
In 1976, Benson toured with soul singer Minnie Riperton, who had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer earlier that year. Also in 1976, George Benson appeared as a guitarist and backup vocalist on Stevie Wonder's song "Another Star" from Wonder's album Songs in the Key of Life. He also recorded the original version of "The Greatest Love of All" for the 1977 Muhammad Ali bio-pic, The Greatest, which was later covered by Whitney Houston as "Greatest Love of All". During this time Benson recorded with the German conductor Claus Ogerman. The live take of "On Broadway", recorded a few months later from the 1978 release Weekend in L.A., also won a Grammy. He has worked with Freddie Hubbard on a number of his albums throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He became one of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1979, where he is still active to date.
The Qwest record label (a subsidiary of Warner Bros., run by Quincy Jones) released Benson's breakthrough pop album Give Me The Night, produced by Jones. Benson made it into the pop and R&B top ten with the song "Give Me the Night" (written by former Heatwave keyboardist Rod Temperton). More importantly, Quincy Jones encouraged Benson to search his roots for further vocal inspiration, and he re-discovered his love for Nat Cole, Ray Charles and Donny Hathaway in the process, influencing a string of further vocal albums into the 1990s. Despite returning to his jazz and guitar playing most recently, this theme was reflected again much later in Benson's 2000 release Absolute Benson, featuring a cover of one of Hathaway's most notable songs, "The Ghetto". Benson accumulated three other platinum LPs and two gold albums.
Later and current career
In 1985, Benson and guitarist Chet Atkins went on the smooth jazz charts with their collaboration "Sunrise", one of two songs from the duo released on Atkins' disc Stay Tuned. In 1992, Benson appeared on Jack McDuff's Colour Me Blue album, his first appearance on a Concord album. Benson signed with Concord Records in 2005 and toured with Al Jarreau in America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to promote their 2006 multiple Grammy-winning album Givin' It Up.
To commemorate the long-term relationship between Benson and Ibanez and to celebrate 30 years of collaboration on the GB Signature Models, Ibanez created the GB30TH, a very limited-edition model featuring a gold-foil finish inspired by the traditional Japanese Garahaku art form. In 2009, Benson was recognized by the National Endowment of the Arts as a Jazz Master, the nation's highest honor in jazz. Benson performed at the 49th issue of the Ohrid Summer Festival in Macedonia on July 25, 2009, and his tribute show to Nat King Cole An Unforgettable Tribute to Nat King Cole as part of the Istanbul International Jazz Festival in Turkey on July 27. In the fall of 2009, Benson finished recording a new album entitled Songs and Stories, with Marcus Miller, producer John Burk, and session musicians David Paich and Steve Lukather. As a part of the promotion for his recent Concord Music Group/Monster Music release Songs and Stories, Benson has appeared and/or performed on The Tavis Smiley Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Benson toured throughout 2010 in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim, including an appearance at the Singapore Sun Festival. He performed at the Java Jazz Festival March 4–6, 2011. In 2011, Benson released the album Guitar Man—revisiting his 1960s/early-1970s guitar-playing roots with a 12-song collection of covers of both jazz and pop standards overseen by producer John Burk.
In June 2013, Benson released his fourth album for Concord Records, Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole, which featured Wynton Marsalis, Idina Menzel, Till Brönner, and Judith Hill. In September, he returned to perform at Rock in Rio festival, in Rio de Janeiro, 35 years after his first performance at this festival, which was then the inaugural one.
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