Musix Mixx…Benjamin Clementine
Sounds Like: Nina Simone’s brother steps into an elegant French café, sits down at the piano and tears open a vein.
For Fans of: Antony and the Johnsons, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf
Why You Should Pay Attention: Born in London to Ghanaian parents, Clementine, 25, was discovered busking in the Paris Metro in 2013 by a French music agent. In short order, the heroically cheek-boned singer who prefers to perform barefoot released his first EP, Cornerstone, and appeared on the BBC TV show Later With Jools Holland, where his galvanizing rendition of the title track earned a big thumbs-up from fellow guest Paul McCartney. His 2014 EP, Glorious You, sealed the deal with another set of proudly despairing kicks against pricks. Benjamin goes international in January with the release of his debut full-length,At Least for Now, and first U.S. tour. A collection of poetry titled Life Through the Eyes of a Wild Greyhound is also in progress.
He Says: “It came out of despair. I just wanted to eat, to survive. I started singing a cappella in bars. I saved up money to get my first guitar and started writing songs. Fame is like icin’ on the cake. What I’ve done mostly is work my ass off. I’m literally nowhere yet…When things started going well, this French designer called Ami gave me some shoes and clothes to wear. But when I sat down to play the piano, the very new shoes kept slipping off the pedal. So I took them off, threw them away and have never worn shoes while playing the piano from then on.”
Hear for Yourself: Benjamin is “all alone in a box of stone” in this powerful solo rendition of “Cornerstone.” By Richard Gehr