Brenda Bennett is an artist whose life and career has been spent alongside legends while creating a legacy of her own. From Tombstone to 'Purple Rain' to Black Morning Sunrise, Bennett has witnessed all the hues that life has to offer - and created from them all.
Brenda Bennett was born into
a musical household in the beautiful ocean state of Rhode
Island. Her mother played piano, accordion and sang while
her father was a fine guitarist. Brenda cut her teeth in
the '70s singing in Ken Lyon's band Tombstone (signed to
Columbia Records in 1973) and rose to national prominence
as one of the members of the platinum-selling Vanity 6 (and
later Apollonia 6). While Vanity 6 had a strong and loyal
following, each of its three members attracted their own
specific cult of fans.
The character Brenda
took on in the band was that of the no-nonsense tough girl
who probably never lost in a fist-fight. What ran even
deeper than the iconic band-photographs were the performances
caught on wax. While Vanity was more than convincing as
the cooing-temptress, and Susan made the most of her monotone
speak-singing (later called Rap), it was Brenda's performances
that gave these albums their heart and soul. Look further
than the tough girl on the album covers and you'll hear
the vulnerability and earnestness that Brenda turned in
on such classics as 'Blue Limousine' and 'A Million
Miles (I Love You).'
After the '80s, Brenda disappeared from public sight. Message boards and fan communities buzzed with the question - where is Brenda? The power and genuineness of Brenda Bennett's performances created a fan base that now spanned years and decades. Many '80s music lovers wondered just what happened to the blonde tough girl with the cigarette hanging out of her mouth. As the 2000s progressed, more and more '80s musicians took to social media. Brenda remained MIA.
All questions were answered when Brenda re-emerged
in 2011 with her debut solo disc 'A Capella.' Phones
were literally ringing off the hook the day all the fans
found Brenda was back. 'A Capella' was a gorgeous
album - a chance to catch up with a long lost friend and
see where she'd been. Firmly rooted in a singer-songwriter
vibe - this debut album gave us a chance to hear that rich
alto voice in an earthier setting. The lyrics detailed
Brenda's years away from the spotlight - from raising
her son Dylan to losing one of her brothers and her parents.
Aesthetically, the music was about a million miles away from the sassy venom of 'Bite The Beat,' but the voice was unmistakably Brenda. And beyond the voice itself, the lyrics and tone of 'A Capella' confirmed that the heart of and soul of Brenda's '80s performances were indeed the real deal. The album was well-reviewed and warmly received by fans.
On April 26, 2015, Brenda Bennett was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame. Ken Lyon paid heartfelt tribute, reflecting on their time together in Tombstone and all of Brenda's ensuing accomplishments. Brenda thrilled the sellout crowd by performing a career-spanning set backed by many of her longtime friends.
Then on May 14, 2016 Brenda performed what was planned to be her farewell concert in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Performing with her backing band Blue Bamboo, the set incorporated tracks from the 'A Capella' album as well as favorites from her back-catalog. The friendship and history shared by the musicians onstage was infectious. Adding to the emotionality of the event was the recent death of Brenda's longtime mentor and collaborator Prince. Between songs, Brenda shared warm anecdotes of her time with Prince. When '17 Days' was performed, the song took on a new poignancy and depth. Let the rain come down indeed.
While it may seem for a moment that Brenda's creative life was winding down, Prince's death reignited the flame. Armed with a historic backlog of material as well as some strong new songs, Brenda embarked on the recording of 'Once Again,' her second solo album. Tapping into the energy of her unfinished Prince-produced solo album, Bennett attacks these sessions with a furor and fire that expands on the more cerebral 'A Capella.' The tracks on 'Once Again' span from the '70s to the present and touch on many of the different styles that Brenda has sung throughout her career. The album closes with a profound reading of '17 Days' featuring her son Dylan on co-lead vocals. This album is a masterpiece. A career best and a personal triumph.
From the blues circuit of the '70s to the stadiums of the '80s to her recent intimate acoustic performances, Brenda Bennett's lifetime and career has seen many stages. She's performed alongside legends and has stood tall on her own. From the sexiness of Vanity 6 to the earthiness of her recent material, Brenda Bennett is a one-of-a-kind artist. Rediscover her - Once Again!