The fate of Ben L’Oncle Soul was unavoidable. Throughout his childhood his mother would sooth him to sleep with the soft sounds of Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway, and wake him to the beat of Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. Hailing from Tours in central France, Ben has taken the music that was such an integral part of his early life and given it his own unique twist, inevitably leading him to the home of soul, Motown Records.
After learning his trade in music halls in every corner of France, Ben was spotted and immediately signed by Motown France in 2008. After refining his craft with leading artists, such as Musiq Soulchild, Raphael Saadiq, and India Arie, Ben began to catch the attention of the French public. His debut release, the Soulwash EP, saw him rework classic pop into contemporary soul, tackling tracks as diverse as The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’, Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, and Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’.
In May 2010, Motown France released Ben’s self titled debut album to an unexpecting public. Though recorded in a Belgian garage, the spirit of Memphis and Detroit remains strong throughout the 14 tracks, with Sax brass and Motown melodies dancing effortlessly with one another. ‘Soulman’ is Ben’s signature track, a tongue-in-cheek defence of the road he is inevitably travelling.
“ Don't have the wisdom of Ghandi,
No muscles like Muhammad Ali,
Don't have a gangster’s heart,
Or a platinum Rolls to park,
I don't have, no fancy things,
I'm just a Soulman,
I'm not a superman, Au contraire
It's just me and my dreams,
And despite what it seems,
It ain't much but yet it's just enough. ”
The blend of tender lows (Come Home) and emphatic highs (Ain’t Off To The Back), of infectious humour (Soulman) and a call for help (Partir) resonated with an audience desperate to fall in love with music once again, and the album was an instant hit. Groundbreaking videos, inspirational live performances, countless awards and thousands of new fans were to follow, before Ben continued his journey outside of France and throughout Europe.
By the end of 2011 Ben L’Oncle Soul was playing a 4 times Platinum album to Sold Out arenas. This one man Hit Factory’s inevitable rise may have been his fate, but none could have predicted the dizzying heights he would reach in such a short amount of time.