Saturday, March 06, 2010

Ben Harper at the Fez Festival

Ben Harper is sure to be one of the biggest draws at this year's Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, to be held from 4-12 June.

Harper is known for his guitar-playing skills and is a singer-songwriter who's won two Grammy Awards. He's particularly popular in Australia, where Triple J Radio first aired his work. The French version of Rolling Stone magazine named him Artist of the Year in 2003.

His music ranges from alternative and folk rock to blues, reggae and gospel. Harper has performed with the Blind Boys of Alabama (also on the Festival programme this year), the Brazilian Vanessa da Mata, and Ringo Starr as well as his own band, Relentless 7. Jack Johnson, the Hawaiian singer-songwriter, is a frequent co-artist.

Of African-American, Cherokee and Jewish background, Ben Harper hails from Claremont in California. He started playing guitar as a child and had a musical background with his grandparents owning a well-known music store frequented by such luminaries as Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal and David Lindley. As a teenager he progressed to a slide guitar and now uses a Weissenborn.

Ben Harper is also well known for his humanitarian activism. In 2004 he contributed to the benefit album For the Lady in honour of jailed Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2007 he covered John Lennon's Beautiful Boy for the benefit album Instant Karma: the Amnesty International Campaign to save Darfur. In 2008 Harper participated in an album called Songs for Tibet, an initiative to support Tibet and the Dalai Lama to emphasise the human rights situation in Tibet. He is also part of the No Nukes Group that opposes the expansion of nuclear power.

Ben Harper will appear at 20h30 on Saturday 5 June at Bab al Makina.

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