Given his melting pot origins - African-American, Cherokee and Jewish - it's no wonder that Ben Harper refuses to be tied down by style or fashion. Hugely influenced as a child by seeing Bob Marley perform in Burbank, CA, Harper's family were always around musicians and he learnt important lessons first hand at the knees of greats like Taj Mahal, Leonard Cohen and David Lindley. Enthused, the young Harper became adept at folk rock, jamming and soul funk while rapidly learning to play a bewildering number of instruments such as lap steel guitar, keyboards, vibes and percussion.
Harper followed his major label debut for Virgin, 1994's Welcome To The Cruel World, with the accomplished Fight for Your Mind in 1995, a breakout solo effort that took in folk-rock, metallic riffing and social commentary with a Jamaican backbeat. Matching his charged songs like "Oppression" and "Burn One Down" to specific African and Caribbean references Harper thrilled early fans with a rhythmic expertise that enhanced his subject matter. Throughout he makes sure his fans are both educated and entertained and fed a brand of spiritual nourishment that is rarely heard these days.