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Ben Cipolla kicks off 2019 with Stroud gig

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Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 09:00

Ben Cipolla Ben Cipolla

Ben Cipolla is a singer-songwriter with a determination and a talent that has seen him enjoy a plethora of experiences and successes, at what is still really the beginning of his career.

A graduate from the University of Gloucestershire, Ben shares a passion for a type of music that attracts thousands to Cheltenham every year.

“I actually chose Cheltenham because of the Jazz Festival!” said Ben, who studied popular music for three years. “I knew the university and the festival would have a close link and the festival actually had a development scheme set up for us, so we could spend time with people involved in the industry as well as perform at the festival.

“I was absolutely shattered by the end of it all, but it was an eye-opening experience for me. My university experience as a whole was amazing, I had a great three years, met some fantastic people and made lifelong friends.”

During his time at university Ben fronted a band – ‘The Ben Cipolla Band’ – and it was in this time he really found his own style.

He continued: “There’s a phrase called ‘jazz fusion’ which basically means jazz combined with other genres like pop and soul. I guess those genres would be the figureheads my style would come under.

“In the past I played with an 8-piece band who really enhanced my genre, but we’re on a bit of a hiatus at the moment with different members being in different countries.”

Growing up, Ben obviously held a passion for music and was talented as a teenager. Like many artists, he started out performing on the streets, but even though music was an obsession, he wasn’t always convinced it would be a career.

“I started my busking career aged 14 when I got an amplifier for my birthday,” he added. “I’d go into town with my acoustic guitar and that was all I needed! Busking gave me the confidence I needed to get into performing.

“I grew up in Wiltshire and had never lived anywhere else. It was perfect because where I went to school we had the Marlborough Jazz Festival, so I performed there a lot.

“I always wondered whether getting into the industry was the right thing to do throughout secondary school. I think I was 18 when I decided I didn’t want to do anything other than music!”

From there, Ben has hardly looked back. Alongside the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, he has also played at the hallowed Glastonbury Festival and the BBC Proms.

“That was a crazy experience,” Ben said on his performance at The Proms. “I met Clare Teal who works for Radio 2 through busking, and she managed to get me a slot on the show.

“I was very lucky that day – I felt like a well-groomed celebrity, I even had my makeup done!”

Ben’s first album, ‘Jungle Kingdom’ was the result of years of writing, plenty of support from friends, family and fans, and for him, was a major highpoint.

He said: “I’d say the highlight of my career so far would be working on my first album with my bandmates in 2017. We held a gig to release it and it was amazing to see the audience full of people who helped to create the album – we crowdfunded to help fund it.

“It had been my aim and dream since school to make an album, so there’d been four or five years’ worth of work and a lot of graft gone into it. It was a big tick, a big highlight for me.”

Work on the second album has almost been completed, with a theme running it through it close to Ben’s heart.

He said: “2018 was a fantastic year for me, I spent a lot of time working on my new album. I went over to Sicily, which is where my dad’s side of the family comes from.

“The album is called ‘Sicilia’ and there’s nine songs on it to represent the nine provinces of Sicily. I wanted to tell the story of my grandparents who migrated over here, and really do their story justice.

“The message I want to get across is that home can be wherever you want it to be, whether that’s in a whole new country or even just a different county. In the times we live in I think we need music even more to provide a sense of togetherness.”

Ben’s first gig of 2019 will be at Beaudesert Park School on Friday 11th January, and will be his first opportunity to perform some of his new releases, as well as showcasing his early work.

“The plan is to have two 45-minute-long sets,” he explained. “The first half will feature new songs from the new album, and then the second half will be with The Nouvelle House Band, who have learned songs from ‘Jungle Kingdom’.

“I’m so excited to share songs from the album at this gig, it’ll be the first chance people will have to hear them. Hopefully I’ll have some positive feedback and from there I’ll decide a release date.

“I love these shows at smaller venues, in pubs and village halls and places like that. I think it’s important for communities to experience and enjoy live music and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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