A New Album and NYC Concert for Ben Rector
Flashback to the all-too-annoying memory: high school assembly. Remember the sex talks with that socially awkward lady begging you to protect your diamond zone? You'll never get that image out of your head. Remember those pep rallies where you were forced to hold hands and sing the alma mater? You will deny you ever participated. Remember that quiet, attractive college kid who came and played his original love songs for you? You're thinking, "No, that never happened." Think again. I remember when Ben Rector came to my high school. At the time, he was an undergrad at The University of Arkansas itching to ditch the marketing degree and live the dream: singer, songwriter, starving artist. He started playing small shows at almost every high school assembly in the Christian bubble around Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas in 2007. Some of you at King's have probably seen him in the past four years.
I remember when he came to my high school. This dude, who was wearing a red hoodie and looked like Michael Cera, waltzed into our school cafeteria proceeded to play a concert. He serenaded confused teenagers staring at him over their lunchboxes. He matter-of-factly explained he wanted to try the music thing, and he believed God would bless him. I remember thinking, "Good luck with that." Just as I was imagining Mr. Rector homeless on the streets, I heard this:
Obviously, I was forced to reconsider. Rector's lyrics were earnest articulations of things we never take the time to express, like advice to new born babies. I switched my adjective for Ben Rector from "homeless" to "heartthrob." The next year, he returned to my high school with a wife by his side (figures). On his next album, he sang a song to her:
I realized that Ben Rector would never be homeless; that love song was his ticket into any woman's door. After this album, I noticed that his voice had vastly improved, and he had an inherent ability to convey his passion through it. His songwriting was still utterly simplistic, but the songs provoked a specific emotion without distraction. However, I still doubted he'd ever break out of the Bible belt and become famous. I thought wrong. Ben's fourth album, Let the Good Times Roll, released September 13th, shot to the top four on iTunes last week. You can preview his new album here:
While Ben had always played his own guitar and piano, this album trumps all its predecessors with sophistication. Taking many more liberties with his sound, Rector, adds saxophone talent and whimsical sounds like whistles into the mix. Another improvement this young artist makes with his new album is the incorporation of a risky theme. The cover photography suggests an earlier age where women sat atop pianos and men threw back tunes along with their whiskey. It's a high calling to match the talent of those days. While Rector's new music recalls feelings of an old gospel choir and the big band blues, it appropriately modernizes the recollections with a tone fitting the middle of the suburbs.
Ben Rector's journey from my cafeteria to the top of the iTunes charts is inspiring. He came from a Christian high school and blindly trusted God to grant his artistry some listeners. If you'd like to be one of those listeners, you can head to his NYC concert on September 29th. Ben Rector may be serenading New Yorkers in Webster Hall, but he'd perform just as well for a cafeteria full of judgmental teenagers.
On September 29th, Ben Rector will be playing at the Studio at Webster Hall located at 125 E 11th St. New York, NY 10003. Doors open at 6:30. For tickets and more information visit www.benrectormusic.com