Drumroll please....Introducing BenjaSoul
A music photographers dream!
Being a music photographer is never usually boring...Especially not this gig. For this night, I was hired by music producer John Hopen of Love Conquered Records/Wild Turkey Studios to photograph his artist, singer songwriter BenjaSoul. He was playing on Sunday night (Feb 26), performing at The Lost Church in Santa Rosa. I didn't know what to expect other than what I saw on the internet, so I was pleasantly surprised when at the end of his show I went home a very happy and joyful photographer! Not only was this artist drop dead gorgeous, a pleasure to be with, and a beautiful soul to capture in photos, but I liked his music too. Best of all, was his stage presence. I'm a big fan of when an artist can really connect with the audience, and BenjaSoul excelled at this! I left the venue feeling uplifted, as his positive vibes were thick in the air and must have infected everyone. BenjaSouls' dynamic smile, and the joy in his heart, dictated the feeling of the nights' performance.
The venue, The Lost Church is neither a church nor is it lost, but it is a listening room in Santa Rosa with a capacity of just under a hundred. There is also another one in San Francisco. Josh Windmiller (below) runs the The Lost Church in Santa Rosa on Ross Street just off Mendocino Ave. Josh is also the guy behind the Santa Rosa Railroad Square Music Festival every summer.
The artist: If I had to describe BenjaSoul, it was as if Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Michael Franti got together and created him! And as a bonus, for the ladies...between his drop dead gorgeous smile and his wonderful positvity soaking through every pore of his being.... BenjaSoul is a stunningly handsome man! GQ magazine will be scooping this one up soon! As a music photographer this job was an absolute pleasure to edit. But on this shoot, choosing even fifty of the best shots were difficult, as he was an absolute dream to capture.
BenjaSoul is a musician, poet, and activist. His sound is multi-intentional, methodically-layered, and designed to move bodies and minds. He was born with music in his blood, as his mother, who was at the performance this night, is an insanely talented opera singer!
Originally performing as Benja, he started writing songs as BenjaSoul after the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012; “Soul” to connect with all beings lost to violence and injustice. He says that his songs are love letters to the modern civil rights movement. His first release, "Emergency" in partnership with Love Conquered Records, merges with life’s sonic inspirations in an examination of pain, resilience, truth, and reclamation. The BenjaSoul essence: music that moves with you towards a new way. More at lcrecords.com.
John Hopen, Founder, and Producer of Love Conquered Records said this about his artist, "BenjaSoul is a gifted and passionate Musician, Songwriter, and Social Justice Warrior. Since the first day in the studio until today, and into the future FOR SURE, this person is one we believe in completely, and I encourage you to explore he and his music further!! Frankly being part of “his community” is and can be a bright spot in an otherwise confused world, so join in!! Much more to come. His journey is just getting started!"
BenjaSouls' music is a mix of soul, rap, rock, R&B and Gospel. His love song, "Pull Me In" was my personal favourite of the night. (But I'm a sucker for romance). It was a rock love song with rap sprinkled in between. When he sang, you could really feel the love that he was trying to convey in the lyrics. Straight from his heart to the audience. The last song of the night was his rendition of Amazing Grace with a "House of the Rising Sun" influence. It was superb. What added to its perfection was the entire audience singing along and eventually rising to their feet. And it was very fitting that night, as some of the audience members were from the Joyful Noise Choir where BenjaSoul is Choir Director. He is also the Music Director at Sonoma Academy. For a minute there at the end, I felt like I was going to witness someone in a wheelchair rising out of it and standing for the first time! It was really something. I wouldn't say it was something to be seen, I would probably more accurately change that to...it was something to be felt...And I truly felt it! The room was bursting with love and good vibes by the time he sang his last note. An incredibly powerful performance indeed. The audience (and I) were smiling, and the room was filled with a great energy! I left that night with joy in my heart!
As I said, it was difficult choosing the best photos of this stunningly handsome musician. As soon as I met him, he was as easy on the eyes as he was to like! The job of editing this photo shoot was a pleasure. Pure joy was what I would call this one!