Born in Houston Texas, January 18th 1945. Graduated from Jack Yates High school in 1962. Benard was never formally trained musically. He is one of those born naturals. Multi-Talented, multi-instrumentalist. He plays piano, guitar, bass, drums, flugelhorn, alto, soprano sax and flute. In addition to those things, he also is an arranger and recording engineer. Shortly after his graduation from High School, Benard, his mother and four other siblings moved to San Diego, California. Within a few months living in San Diego, Benard realized he needed more than the laid back atmosphere of the quiet little San Diego town. Benard enlisted into the Army, within a few months of moving to California. His musical career however, did not begin until he returned to San Diego. In 1965, Benard met Dizzy Gillespie in San Diego at his older sisters home. “I played piano and sang for him. He really liked what he heard. He invited me to sing with his Band the night after we met. The band consisted of Michael Longo (piano), Frank Schifano (Bass), Candy Finch (Drums) and James Moody (Saxophone) Dizzy asked me to join him in Los Angeles to record. I did join him there. We recorded five tracks at Ray Charles’ studio". A single was released as a result, on Mercury Record label. One of the songs was Dizzys’ “ Con Alma.” Shortly after the recording, James Moody became ill with Bells Palsy and couldn’t play his horn. Dizzy offered Benard an opportunity, and that was to join his band as featured singer, he did just that.
"I was to stay with the band until James Moody recovered. Moody did recover after five months or so. By then, I was one of the cats. So, I stayed on even after Moody’s return. It was an experience I shall never forget".
Dizzy introduced Bernard to Lalo Schifrin, of 'Mission Impossible' fame, shortly after his stint with his band. Lalo and Bernard formed a friendship and did an album with him, entitled "Requiem,” under a ficticious name, Alexander St.Charles.
He also co-wrote a song with Lalo entitled “Like Me”, which he sang on the sound track of the Film “Dirty Harry” starring Clint Eastwood, which Lalo scored. Benard teamed up again with Lalo years later, this time to perform and record with Sarah Vaughn and an international orchestra and choir. Some of the late Pope John Paul II’s poetry was put to music and Lalo Schifrin and Francy Boland wrote the arrangements.
Benard became involved doing some background vocal session work on the Hollywood scene, sang backup for James Taylor and countless numbers of commercials.
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A true pleasure to discover you and your incredible musical talents here in the Jazz Network. " Everything Must Change" is one of the most outstanding songs and recordings of all time. You are an inspiration to many through your multiple talents as a gifted musician, composer, and vocalist. Wishing you continued success, creativity, and peace.
Jaijai, what a wonderful mission you've undertaken to create such a place for artistic minds to meet and share their hearts. A place to renew faded determinations, and revive lessened momentums. A place to display our wares and reconfirm to one another that we actually are on the right track.
I commend you, Jaijai, for caring so much that you created this castle of the heart for all of us. I want to share my praise for all of the new friends as well as old friends that I've met and will meet here in our castle. Here we can garnish the where-with-all, the strength, the conviction, and the selflessness through our symbiosis, to share our gift to the world with an unbiased agenda.
My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says of art: "A beautiful flower delights and refreshes the hearts of all people equally, no matter what soil it grows in. That is the power of beauty. The same is true of great art. It is this spirit that the German poet Heinrich Heine sang of when he wrote that once the peapod bursts open, the sugar peas inside are for everyone to enjoy."
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