Photo: Randee St. Nicholas
Eric Benét Is The One
Eric Benét knew he was musically inclined by the time he reached grade school. Growing up in a "crazy musical family" that had a reputation for playing music around the clock, Benét was hearing original songs and musical arrangements in his head before he was solving mathematical equations. "I thought, 'OK, maybe I'm a songwriter or a musician or something,'" he recalls. "I think that's when it dawned on me." Six studio albums and four GRAMMY nominations later, it seems Benét's intuition was right. In an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, Benét discusses his latest (and first independently released) album, The One, being nominated for a GRAMMY, what drives him to be an artist, and his creative influences, among other topics.
"The One is a project I've been trying to make my whole career," says Benét. "I feel like I'm at the top of my game, both vocally and artistically. … That's pretty much why I called it The One; this is the one I've been trying to make." Released June 5 on Benét's own Jordan House Records, The One features 12 tracks, including duets with Benét's 20-year-old eldest daughter India Benét, Lil Wayne and Shaggy, and "Here In My Arms (Lucia's Lullaby)," a song Benét wrote for his newborn daughter, Lucia Bella.
Born Eric Benét Jordan in Milwaukee, Benét released his debut album, True To Myself, in 1996. A Day In The Life followed in 1999, peaking at No. 25 on the Billboard 200 and garnering Benét his first GRAMMY nomination for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for the Top 25 hit "Spend My Life With You" featuring Tamia. Hurricane was released in 2005, followed by 2008's Love & Life, which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and spawned two GRAMMY nominations for Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "You're The Only One." Benét's most recent GRAMMY nomination came in 2011 for Best Traditional R&B Performance for "Sometimes I Cry," a track from 2010's Lost In Time, a tribute to '70s-era soul music.
"Out of all of the people doing this thing for the passion of making music and trying to be better at what they do … I'm one of the few that has been acknowledged by The [Recording] Academy," says Benét on being nominated for a GRAMMY. "It's an amazing compliment and [it's] affirming [to know I'm] doing the right thing."