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Ben Carroll: soul singing is back in style

By Gary Wien


Growing up in the shadows of music history, it was probably destiny that Ben Carroll would follow his parents' lead and become a musician. And it was only a matter of time before Carroll would utilize his father's talents on one of his records, which he does extensively on his upcoming release.

His second album, which will be released in the next few months, was co-produced by his father, Jon Carroll, who also plays on every song. Jon Carroll and Ben's mother, Margot Chapman, were part of music history as one half of the Starland Vocal Band. That group's debut record in 1976 included the timeless hit, "Afternoon Delight" - a song that always seems to pop up in a new movie or on a television show every few years.

Ben Carroll carries on the family tradition of soulful singing and R&B music. While his first record showcased his soulful singing ability against a folk & blues background, his new record brings out the Stax/Motown flavor with a full band sound.

"I love all that old Stax soul and Motown stuff," said Ben Carroll. "I produced it with my dad and he was reared on that stuff."

Carroll grew up in the Washington, DC area and now lives in Brooklyn. He did some acting early on, but it didn't take long before he began focusing solely on music.

"I grew up in a great musical household, but they never forced it on me," he explained. "I always sang and just enjoyed music and that aspect of life. I think that after a matter of time I just realized it and accepted it."
One thing that stands out about Carroll's music is his songwriting. He writes crisp, descriptive lyrics that flow and blend wonderfully with the music. Never one to be hung up with genres, he moves fluidly from folk to soul to blues to pop.

"I think artistically speaking it's a little bit pigeonholding to talk about influences because I don't think about that stuff too much as much as what's right for the song while I'm doing it and while I'm performing."

His work is beginning to get noticed from the industry as well. He was one of a few songwriters chosen to be a part of the BMI 2007 Contemporary Professional Songwriting Workshop, which ran for eight weeks in New York City this past spring.

The upcoming record will feature 11 original songs and should be released in either August or September. It is being released throughout the UK on the Orchid Music label and available everywhere online.

"I feel really good about the album," said Carroll. "I think it's really strong material and the performances are great. We had a lot of fun making every song. We are planning to get out on the road to open for some big acts in the later half of this year."

Ben Carroll will be performing a solo set at the Black Potatoe Music Festival in Clinton on Sunday, July 15th. He'll be at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on the 16th and at The Paradise Lounge in Boston on the 17th.
For more information, visit his websites at www.bencarroll.com or
www.myspace.com/bencarrollmusic


Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.


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