Nigerian-born, Chicago-bred soul singer Ben Official arrived in the States at the age of 5, and fell in love with soul of the Baptist church. Even though he was raised Catholic, he said “the soul and struggle that I heard in Old Negro Spirituals enlightened me to a new genre of vocal usage,” he told Chicago Sound News Magazine. “I found these voices quite different but highly interesting in their riffs and runs. It was my first introduction to gospel voices on R&B tracks/beats.” His musical influences include Dave Hollister, Donnell Jones, Blackstreet, Toni Tony Tone, Carl Thomas and Brian McKnight.
And those musical influences are clear throughout Circa 87 Vol. 1, an hors d'oeuvre to the forthcoming Circa 87 Vol. 1. Able to play piano by ear, Ben combines his talented for finding beautiful harmonies and melodies with soulful riffs and real lyrics. He sings from the heart on “Pen and Pad,” and covers Luke James’ “I Want You.” In “What They Wanna Hear,” Ben tells the ladies all the right things on the sexy, mysterious track, and you can’t help but feel good while listening to “Direct Descendants;” its groove is contagious as he claims love’s bloodline. “Preview” is a series of snippets of what Circa 87 will boast. With production credits by Authentik Made and Zo The Beat Boi, Ben also enlists Tree, Add-2, Mathien, R.O.E., and poets Harold Green and Real Talk.
Enjoy the sample platter that is Circa 87 Vol. 1.