GenresJazz, Big band, Blues, R&B Adult contemporary, Pop, Bossa Nova, Latin Jazz, Lounge, Jazz/pop More...
LocationDetroit MI United States
Sounds LikeMichael Buble, Jamie Cullum, Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr.
Digital Locationhttp://www.bensharkey.com/ musicpage.com/bensharkey
HistoryMember since: 06/14/2012 Year Founded: 2009
- Original material: 01 hrs : 30 min
- Cover material: 04 hrs : 00 min
- CDs released: 2
- CDs sold: 1000
- Digital songs sold: 4000
- Original Songs: 26
- Average Draw: 225
- Largest crowd: 500
- Have sound: Full PA
Singer Ben Sharkey is what you might call an “old soul.” In an age when flip-flops pass muster in church, he wears tuxedos with the playful ease of a young Frank Sinatra. And while oversexualized lyrics and synthetic dance beats dominate the current top 40, Sharkey croons classic love songs infused with jazz, bossa nova, salsa and pop.
Sharkey grew up in tiny Stockbridge, Mich., a village of just 1,200 people. Born into a musical family (his mother sang and his grandfather owned a live music venue), Sharkey was always humming a tune, playing piano or singing along to the radio. It was when his grandmother introduced him to classic movie musicals, however, that young Ben really found his niche.
“She put on Guys and Dolls, and I was just in awe of Sinatra’s character, Nathan Detroit,” Sharkey says. “He was charming, he dressed impeccably, and he broke into song without ever losing his swagger. He was the epitome of cool.”
With that small taste of Ol’ Blue Eyes, Sharkey began wading through Sinatra’s entire catalog. From there, he found Dean Martin, Bobby Darrin, Chet Baker and more. In his late teens, he decided he was ready to graduate from old movies and needle-worn records, so he struck out for the biggest city he could find – Ann Arbor, Mich. Just 30 miles away, the university town was light years ahead in terms of the french-cuffed sophistication Sharkey craved.
There, in dark, smoky jazz clubs like the Bird of Paradise and the Firefly Club, he could hear the kind music he loved performed live. There, he could feel like a character in one of the great movie musicals his grandmother loved. There, he could transform from a shy, small-town kid, into someone a little bit more like Nathan Detroit.
But just because Ben Sharkey prefers things just this side of “old school,” that doesn’t mean he’s stuck in the past. And just because his debonair accoutrements – the velvet smoking jackets, the silken voice, the smoldering good looks – harken back to a bygone era, that doesn’t mean his music doesn’t have a place on today’s pop charts.
Harry Connick, Jr. ushered in a wave of sophisticated standards back in the early ’90s. And the crooner tradition continues today with artist like Robin Thicke and Michael Bublé. Sharkey’s first album, Day Into Night, released in November 2011, follows in those sultry, swanky footsteps.
“I think of my music as a return to a taste for the finer things. It makes you sit up a little taller, dress a little nicer, and feel just a little bit sexier,” Sharkey says.
The perfect soundtrack to a romantic dinner, or even a Sunday afternoon reading the paper, Day Into Night is an elegant mix of nine original songs and two covers. Sharkey does a captivating rendition of the classic mambo tune “Sway,” made popular in the ’50s by Dean Martin, and revived by Bublé just a few years ago. The version of Michael Jacskon’s “Billie Jean,” however, is so transformed by Sharkey’s jazz treatment as to render it a completely original song.
“The covers I choose are songs I can connect to,” Sharkey says. “Not necessarily the lyrics, but the melody and the emotions bottled up in it. When I start trying out a new cover, I know it’ll work when I start to feel like it’s actually my song, only someone else wrote it first. Then when I get on stage and have my amazing band behind me, it allows me to evoke those emotions and really get lost in the song.”
Sharkey has performed at Detroit’s most fashionable and legendary venues, including Cliff Bell’s and Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, where he sang on the same stage graced over the years by John Coltrane, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. Sharkey also served as the only opening act on Robin Thicke’s entire 2010 tour. His YouTube channel has received more than five millions views, with one video getting almost 700,000 views alone.
When he’s not signing, Ben Sharkey is a digital artist and oil painter. He received a BFA from the acclaimed College for Creative Studies in Detroit. His next painting exhibition will focus on the female face, and how different cultures define beauty in different ways. He currently resides in Birmingham, Mich., a suburb of Detroit.
For more information, visit BenSharkey.com. To view videos of Sharkey perfoming, visit YouTube.com/user/BenSharkey.