A California native, Ben Harper puts a fresh perspective on Woodstock-era folk rock, 1970s soul and pretty much any other genre he comes into contact with. Harper's classic rock 'n' soul 'n' blues approach can come off like early-career Lenny Kravitz, but his honesty and integrity place him in a different category; in fact, the way Harper has built his audience up brings Bruce Springsteen to mind.
Harper's solo debut, Welcome to the Cruel World, came out in 1994 and immediately caught on with the quickly growing jam rock underground (then called "Dead Heads," kids). While this meant that Harper was filling concert venues while selling relatively few CDs, it also meant that an ever-growing army of new converts keeps buying his back catalog titles.
In 1997, "Steal My Kisses" became a hit single and helped make Will to Live Harper's first charting album. While his inclusive political vibe and ease with multiple genres may have seemed quaint during the Clinton years, his musical worldview was made more relevant than ever when the reactionary 2000s came around and reintroduced the public to the same things that Harper's musical forebears sang about (you name it -- voter equality, war and government/big business corruption). With his music resonating with more and more people, Harper put out Diamonds on the Inside in 2003.
With Diamonds going Top 20 in the U.S. and Top 10 in Canada, Harper made an about-face and decided to tour and record with the legendary gospel act the Blind Boys of Alabama in 2004. Their collaboration, Let There Be Light, should have been a career best for Harper. Instead, he followed it up with 2006's Both Sides of the Gun, a double disc protest album that was his most cohesive, energetic and creative work yet. Harper is married to actress Laura Dern.