The influence of classic soul and jazz greats of yesteryear comes to mind when you hear Rhian Benson sing. Her songs are effortless, elegant and timeless in a way that is rare in this era of artists. With the help of Danish rising star production duo, Daniel Fridell and Jonas Rendbo, Rhian has diligently and lovingly cooked up the ingredients for her new album title ‘Hands Clean’ to be released in 2010.
The exciting new sound she drapes her voice across is a stark and soulful collection of pulsating electronic grooves; a hidden ground where Sade meets DJ Shadow. This is a bold album that dares to redefine modern soul music. Rhian has been nurturing her expressive style and is looking forward to showing the world more of her exquisite soulful sound.
“I met Jonas and Daniel for a brief writing session in Copenhagen a while ago and we just hit it off immediately, the guys were so passionate about creating truthful music that speaks from the soul to the soul. They instantly understood the sound and feel I was looking for… so I asked them to produce the entire album with me and I thank God they said yes!’
Rhian’s sophomore album –‘Hands Clean’– represents a strong evolution of her unique style and ventures into fresh and bold sonic terrain for the critically acclaimed singer/songwriter. These confessional tales of love and life represent a new direction for this singular artist as she journeys beyond the ‘Gold Coast’.
“I experienced great change in my life since writing my first album so when I began writing ‘Hands Clean’ all I wanted to do was create a sound that in some way captured that state of flux”.
Born in Accra, and raised in Wales, Ghana and India, Rhian grew up in a very musical environment. Her Welsh mother was an accomplished singer, and her father, an Ashanti naval officer, is a gifted guitarist. Rhian started playing piano at the age of nine and picked up guitar soon after and before long, a budding singer songwriter.
Behind the warm honeyed voice is a sharp mind, Rhian gained an economics degree at the London School of Economics and worked in banking in the City for a time, a somewhat stark contrast to her own desires for a life in music. Her studies continued at Harvard in America, until her mother fell ill and Rhian returned home to care for her ailing mother. With time to think she found healing and release in music and decided to chase her singing dreams, feeling as though it was a risk worth taking in order to dance her heart’s dreams into life.
Numerous open mic nights and various club slots in London followed and she found her voice often compared to Sade , Phyllis Hyman and Norah Jones. One night after a show Rhian was offered a deal by an executive from Los Angeles based label, DKG, and relocated to America to write and record her debut album ‘Gold Coast’ a title which beautifully reflects her childhood home of Ghana.
Under the Californian sun the gifted songstress, musician and writer co-produced the album with Grammy Award-winning producers Bob Power (Chaka Khan, A Tribe Called Quest) and James Poyser (Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo). The albums sound was a striking collection of moving songs, beautiful and passionate melodies and rich production, all fused together underneath Rhian’s velvety and captivating voice. In 2004, was released to phenomenal international support and great critical acclaim.
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Rhian’s self-penned debut single ‘Say How I Feel’ was a Top 10 R&B hit in the US and Top 30 in the UK national charts. The video for the single featuring the model Tyson Beckford and an iconic looking Rhian instantly became MTV Base’s #1 Most Played video. The BR Gunna remix of ‘Say How I Feel’ went on to become an underground hip hop classic and saw Rhian collaborate with hip hop legends Slum Village.
Invited by BET in the US to host her own TV show series aptly entitled ‘Gold Coast’– a first for a brand new British artist, Rhian went back to her home in Ghana to shoot footage for the show and also interviewed a wide range of celebrities from LL Cool J to Clint Eastwood!
Rhian’s first US national tour followed in 2003 when she supported R&B legend Brian McKnight; she then headlined her own shows and performed alongside artists including Angie Stone, Raphael Saadiq, Macy Gray and Angela Bofill. Rhian took great pleasure in joining British soul star Lemar on her first UK tour in 2005.
Her journey and passion have come with rewards like the MOBO Award for ‘Best Jazz Act’ in 2005, ‘Best New Soul Act’ – Urban Music Awards in 2005, ‘Best Pop Act’ – Welsh Music Awards in 2005 and ‘Ghana Entertainer of the Year’ – Ghana Professional Awards in 2004. Six magazine covers including Metro, Pride and Blues & Soul topped off an exceptional couple of years and allowed Rhian to realise many dreams which she otherwise might have tucked in a drawer in a 9-5 job, had her economics path continued.
It is clear from the first note that there are only bigger things ahead for the exceptional Ms Benson.
Check Out Some Of Rhian Benson’s Music Below….