"Because of the way I write, I focus on each song as a whole. I don't really think too hard about the genres I tap into," she explains. "As a result, there are moments in the album where I'm basically doing straightahead jazz. There are other moments that are funky. There're moments when we use reggae influences so there are a multitude of things going on."
The Accra-born Benson is highly influenced by her Ashanti roots and her musical family. Her father, a Ghanaian dignitary, played guitar while her mother, who is from Wales, sang. "I can just remember every important event in Ghana growing up was accompanied by live, local music," she says. "If someone had a baby, they'd have a big party with live music and traditional dancers. You go to a funeral sermon. At the end of the sermon, people pour libations and there's live music. It's just everywhere. It's literally just ingrained in the culture."
Yet despite this rich musical lineage, Benson studied econometrics at the London School of Economics and later began a business studies program at Harvard. It wasn't until her mother became ill and Benson returned to London to care for her that her music career took hold.
"During that time of crisis for myself and my mother and my whole family, I started writing a lot more," she says. "I started really, really thinking what I wanted to do with my life. I realized that my true passion was for music. It had been a constant my whole life but, for the first time, I realized how very important it was for me to try a career in music."
Through open-mic sessions in London, she met representatives from her label, DKG, and eventually relocated to Los Angeles, where she has resided for just over two years.
For Gold Coast, Benson has channeled her experiences into music. "On this album," she says, "I wrote mostly about my journey and my spiritual growth, and the kind of rebirth that I feel like I've been through by pursuing a career in music. Songs like 'Sing to a Child,' 'Invincible' and 'Gold Sky' are all about getting stronger inside. I wanted to share that with people. I know that people go through that kind of stuff every now and again in their own lives and sometimes it helps to hear from a different perspective, how someone else has dealt with that process."
She has also been affected by events while living in the U.S. "'Stealing My Peace of Mind' was written about the 9-11 disaster," she explains. "I remember a couple of days after it happened feeling this kind of weight on my shoulders. I know that everybody else felt it. I wanted to do something to kind of purge myself of that experience and purge others." In the chorus, Benson writes, "The thieves are at it again/Stealing my peace of mind/But they won't win/Because my soul they'll never find."
So far Benson's reception in the U.S., including an Atlanta performance earlier this year at Eleven50, has been very warm. In addition to sharing dates with Floetry, she has opened for Raphael Saadiq and Musiq. And while all that puts her firmly in the neo-soul world, she doesn't see the music as anything particularly new. "I think there's always been an undercurrent of real music," she says. "Pop styles go in waves but there's always been a core group of people who yearn to hear real musicians sitting down with live instruments. There's something timeless about that. It's always been there; it's just gaining in popularity and hopefully it will work in my favor."
Nashville has more dive bars than ATL now that sucks. tbh i think that new…
*Christ, Lord sorry
"Punk" style like this seems like it is the polar opposite of punk. Bradford Cox…
They're kind of starting to look like a joke of themselves. Song's good though.
All 80s movies want you...