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Artist Spotlight: Ben Harper

Many Sounds, Many Voices

Award-winning singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and activist Ben Harper has parlayed his passion for the blues into a soulful musical career. From his early obsession with blues guitarists like Mississippi John Hurt to envelope-pushing rock with his bands the Innocent Criminals and Relentless7 to collaborations with such legends as Charlie Musselwhite and Mavis Staples, Harper stands out as both a torchbearer and trailblazer of American roots music.

Early Inspiration: The Family Music Store

Harper grew up immersed in the eclectic sounds of world music. His family’s music shop, the Folk Music Center, located in Claremont, California, sold almost every stringed instrument imaginable, attracting some of the world’s greatest players.

“I studied the great blues players as if my life depended on it. This music was so lonely yet hopeful, so desperate yet confident, I had to get close to it and stay close.”

A Passionate Student of Music

From rock ‘n’ roll heroes like Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen to R&B legends like Nina Simone and Stevie Wonder, Harper's pool of influences is broad, deep, and always growing.

The Songwriting Process

Songwriting is an ever-evolving practice that has pushed Harper to hone his own unique style. He talks about how he learned to turn frustration into satisfaction.

Sound, Feel, Potential

Harper talks about the key qualities he looks for in a guitar and why he’s begun to pare back his extensive guitar collection.

Ben Harper and the Taylor Grand Pacific

"On stage the Grand Pacific guitars have a massive, full-bodied sound, and at home and in studio they have the intimate clarity that for me is a requirement with acoustic guitars."

Ben Harper - “Yearning”

Watch as Harper plays his song “Yearning” on his Taylor 517e.

Skateboarding’s Lesson: Rhythm, Flow, and Persistence

An avid skateboarder, Harper compares the struggles of pursuing a career in music to the endless frustration of slamming on the pavement. Both endeavors require passion, persistence, and a healthy tolerance for failure.

Explore Other Taylor Artists

The Taylor family of musicians continues to grow. Check out the full roster of artists, from emerging up-and-comers to venerable greats.