Benjamin Chase “Ben” Harper (born October 28, 1969) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock music and is known for his guitar-playing skills, vocals, live performances, and activism. He has released twelve regular studio albums, mostly through Virgin Records and has toured internationally. Harper is a three-time Grammy Award winner as well, winning awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album, in 2005. He also won a Grammy for Best Blues Album in 2014.
Harper was born in Pomona, California. His father, Leonard, was of African-American and possibly Cherokee ancestry, and his mother, Ellen Chase-Verdries, is Jewish. His maternal great-grandmother was a Russian-Lithuanian Jew. His parents divorced when he was five years old, and he grew up with his mother’s family. Harper has two brothers, Joel and Peter.
Harper began playing guitar as a child. His maternal grandparents’ music store The Folk Music Center and Museum laid a foundation of folk and blues for the artist, complemented by regular patrons Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal, John Darnielle, and David Lindley and quotes of William Shakespeare and Robert Frost made often by his grandfather.