Enjoy some sample selections of George Benson beautiful music
For those who know songs like “This Masquerade, 20/20, Give Me The Night, Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You, Greatest Love of All, Breezin” and “Take Five”, you are in for a treat. The 10-time Grammy Award winner George Benson will be performing a concert to be held at the Area of Stars at Genting Highland on 31 October.
Benson, one of the greatest jazz guitarists, is also an amazingly versatile musician. He can play from funky, swing, R&B to pop. He is good in the vocal as well with his career in music spinning off from 1964.
He was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, United States in 1943. From a humble beginning by age seven, Benson played the ukulele in a corner drug store for which he was paid a few dollars.
At the age of eight, he was playing guitar in an unlicensed nightclub during Friday and Saturday nights. This was short lived due to action taken against the club.
Young Benson recorded his first single record with RCA-Victor in New York called “She Makes Me Mad” at age10 and like the saying goes, “The rest is history”.
In 1976, Benson won three Grammy Awards with “This Masquerade” for record of the year, “Breezin” for Best Pop Instrumental performance and “Theme from Good King Bad” for the Best R&B Instrumental performance.
Two years later, Benson was again on the Grammy podium to receive an award for the Best Male R&B Vocal performance for “On Broadway”.
Benson scored his second hat trick at the 1980 Grammy Award by winning Best Male R&B Vocal performance with the number, “Give me the night”, which he worked closely with another music great, Quincy Jones.
He also won the Best R&B Instrumental performance for “Off Broadway” and the Best Male Jazz Vocal performance with “Moody’s Mood”.
The 1983 Grammy Award for the Best Pop Instrumental performance was won by Benson for “Being with you”.
In 2006, he clinched two more Grammy awards in the Best Pop Instrumental performance category for “Mornin’” and “God Bless the Child” in the Best Traditional R&B Vocal performance category.
At the recent teleconference interview for the media organised by Resort World Genting with him from Phoenix, Arizona, Benson took many of the questions with enthusiasm.
As this was not his first time appearing in Malaysia, he spoke of the good times he had with the Malaysian audiences and fans during his previous performances. During the short teleconference with the man himself, he spoke freely about what we can expect from the concert.
Touching base with him on a more per¬sonal level, Benson told us that his father was a singer who played several instruments while his mother was a singer who played the piano but they never did it professionally. Both his parent did not make it big but their dreams were realised through their son.
Something that not a lot of people know is that “The Greatest Love of All” was originally sung by Benson and not Whitney Houston.
“The song was recorded for the 1977 biographical film on Muhammad Ali (the greatest boxer of the 20th century), My Own Story.
“Muhammad Ali loved the song and not long after I met little Houston when she was a teen¬ager. She came up to me on the streets of New York and said, 'Mr Benson, you are my favou¬rite artiste and my favourite song is the “Greatest Love Of All” and I'm going to record that song one day' and I didn't believe her!"
"When I heard it for the first time I wondered if it was the same kid that I met downtown and it was, she did a great job. She sang it beautifully,” Benson commented.
Houston came up with her own interpretation of the song which became a top of the chart hit in the 1980s.
When asked how he felt about returning to perform in Malaysia for the two performances, he replied, “I love coming to Malaysia because the fans here love great tunes and are easy to please.”
For his concerts at the Area of Stars, Benson will be joined by five other musicians on stage, with one of them providing back-up vocals as well.
On what is in store for his performance at Genting, he said, “I will try to fit my repertoire in accordance with the mood I get from my audience. Every concert is different when I go out there and feel what the people want. As for the band, they don’t know what I want to sing because I don’t know what I want to do until I get out there on the stage.
“The classic songs will still be there because people request them all the time. But we will do a few new things we did not do the last time.”
For tickets to his concert at 8pm at the Arena of Stars, visit www.rwgenting.com or call 03-2070 492 and 09-5676997. The tickets are priced RM60, RM90, RM140, RM190 and RM250.