I had it planned out in my head. The first question I'd ask Eric Benét would be to discuss "Hallie... " then I'd pause briefly before he could get a word in, and say "Steinfeld -- the teen star of True Grit." Depending on his answer and assuming he had a strong sense of humor, my next series of questions would be asking the R&B star to open up about "Berry." Once again, before he could utter a word, I'd ask him to weigh in on the following: "Chuck Berry... Darryl Strawberry... Franken Berry."
It seemed like a funny idea since I'm sure Benét gets asked about his ex-wife Halle Berry all the time, but something happened after I met him and he performed his song "Here in My Arms" on "A-Sides." After a pitch-perfect acoustic version of that beautiful tune, the down-to-earth Benét and I shot the you know what about everything from Dave Grohl to the superb current season of Mad Men. He was a humble, down-to-earth guy and the last thing I wanted to do was drag up the past when all I really cared about was the music anyway. So, when the camera rolled (apologies for the dreadful quality -- it was at one point HD but lord knows what happened in the conversion process) we talked about the song, his new album, and anywhere else my brain took the interview.
Benét's The One will be released on June 5 and has already spawned a hit single in "Real Love," and its follow-up "Harriett Jones" was the #1 added song to urban AC radio last week. The album also features appearances by Lil Wayne and Shaggy, and includes the aforementioned "Here in My Arms," a lullaby he wrote for his four-month-old baby girl Lucia Bella.
The performance of that song and interview were recorded in the Listening Room at Primary Wave Music in New York City on May 10. Catch Benét on the road with Ledisi this summer. Watch. Listen. Love.
"Here in My Arms"
Interview Part One
For part two of the interview, click here.
About A-Sides with Jon Chattman
Jon Chattman's music series features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing.