Born in Milwaukee as Eric Benet Jordan, Benet is the youngest of five from a very musical household. His father, a police detective, loved classical music. Whereas, his mother would sing around the house, even singing the duties to the kids. In addition, Eric’s older siblings gave him a big dose of Stevie Wonder, who is one of his top musical influences. Eric was also influenced by Al Green, Sly Stone, Donny Hathaway, Chaka Kahn, Earth, Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, Steely Dan, the Beatles, Queen and gospel music among others. He started showcasing his musical talent in church in the gospel choir. Eventually, he expanded to school plays and musicals. Eric soon realized at a young age that he wanted to pursue music professionally.
Eric’s first professional break came when he joined a local group, Gerard, in the late 80’s. They toured various night clubs and small venues covering top 40 tunes. It was during this time that Eric learned through experience. He experimented and performed all types of music from rock to pop to soul to hip hop.
Later Eric, his cousin, George Nash Jr., and his sister, Lisa, formed the group Benet. They put together a demo tape that found its way in the hands of Allison Ball-Gabriel, a music executive. That led to Benet getting a music deal with EMI Records. This was the start of a roller coaster ride for Eric. Their self-entitled CD was released in ’92. Unfortunately, the label was going through corporate red tape and the CD was not properly promoted. Consequently, the sales were lackluster. In addition, some radio stations wouldn’t play the singles released, “Only Want To Be With You” and “Rainy Days And Mondays” because they didn’t fit with the stations’ formats. Benet was soon dropped from their label.
A short time later, Eric experienced the high of being a father for the first time with his girlfriend, Tami, when their daughter, India, was born. However, only about 15 months later, Tami was killed in a car accident. Eric had become a single parent. It was a very scary time for him. Even though he still wanted to pursue his dream of performing, he had to provide for his daughter. So Eric worked at UPS for a while. In the meantime, Jeff Lorber, who was one of the producers on the Benet CD, kept Eric close to the business. Jeff set up various guest starring jazz vehicles for Eric to showcase his vocal talent. During this time, Eric sang on CD’s by Jeff, Marion Meadows, Eric Marienthal, and Michael Franks among others.
Through these difficult times, Eric kept a journal of his thoughts and experiences. For a while he was afraid to trust himself with the type of music he wanted to do. But luckily one day, he realized that he had to be true to himself.
He used his experiences and turned them into songs.
Meanwhile, Allison Ball-Gabriel, who had signed Benet to EMI, was an executive at Warner Brothers Records (WBR). So Eric decided to send her some demos. Allison immediately told Eric to keep doing what he was doing. He was then signed to the label. Eric again worked with cousin, Nash Jr., and brought longtime friend, Demonte Posey, on board in a studio in Milwaukee. WBR allowed Eric to have full creative control, which is rare for a new artist. The fruit of their labor, “True To Myself” was released in ’96. Although it was critically praised, the album was not properly promoted. Therefore, “True To Myself” never attained the sales that it deserved.
So when it was time for Eric to go back in the studio for his sophomore effort, he realized that the pressure was on to increase sales. He didn’t want to abandon his style and alienate his fan base. But he knew that he would need more “radio friendly” songs to be successful. He again worked with Nash Jr. and Posey, along with others in the studio. The result was “A Day In The Life,” which was released in April of ’99. This time Eric also incorporated some duets on the CD. They include collaborations with Faith Evans, Tamia, Roy Ayers, and Me’Shell Ndegeocello. As with the first album, most of the songs are based on Eric’s personal experiences except the two cover songs and “Loving Your Best Friend.”
Warner Brothers Records has been promoting Eric considerably more this time around and it is paying off. “A Day In The Life” is doing well and was certified gold. The first single, “Georgy Porgy”, received considerable airplay and did well on the R&B charts. The second single, “Spend My Life With You”, went to number one on the R&B charts, was certified gold, was nominated for a Grammy Award, won an NAACP Award for Outstanding Song and has become a wedding favorite.
During his “downtime”, Eric spent time in the studio, writing and producing tracks for Earth, Wind and Fire’s upcoming 30th anniversary CD. He also went on tour with Brian McKnight and made numerous television appearances. Plus he recently stepped into the acting arena. Eric had a recurring role on WB’s “For Your Love” sitcom as Jamal. Eric’s love life is on the upswing as well. He is engaged to actress, Halle Berry. They plan to marry sometime in 2000.
Eric’s future goals include possibly having his own record label in which he can help artists like himself who are slightly against the norm and to continue making great music for us. In the meantime, Eric is very happy with his number one job of being a father to India, who’s now eight years old.