Local singer hopes to break through with soulful sound

— Flint native and Grand Blanc resident Nannette Benman is hoping to reach as many people as she can with her voice by way of her CD “I’m Stronger In You.”

A Flint Northwestern High School graduate, Benman put out her CD on a record label, Benman Music Group, started by Nannette and her husband, Gilbert Benman, in February 2010 in their home studio, Clef Notes Studio.

“I’ve been singing since I was a child,” Benman said. “I would wake up in the morning and start singing. I’d sing any and every thing I could.” Benman noted she was in several girl groups, as well as various R&B and jazz bands.

Her upbringing molded her love for music, as her parents Nancy and Earl West owned a record shop in Flint, and Benman’s father was the first African-American disc jockey in Flint. “Being around music all the time, I just loved it,” she said. Benman sang throughout high school, in church and several different choirs.

A mother of five and grandmother of six, Benman used her vocal chops to earn a vocal music scholarship to Kentucky State University, eventually graduating from Northwood University. While at KSU, Benman auditioned and won a spot on a touring concert choir that allowed her to travel around the country as a featured soloist. She has also opened for the “original” Temptations, Roger Troutman & Zapp and Roy Ayers.

The biggest influence in her life, Benman said, was her acceptance of Jesus Christ. She said being able to combine her love of God and music was bound to happen. Benman commented while she enjoyed performing “secular” music, “I noticed the response to me singing gospel music was a greater, stronger response.”

“They (congregation) would be emotional, hands lifted up, praising,” she said. “There would be tears flowing. You could see the evidence of the music in the people.” Benman said while performing gospel “You sing the word in song.” She carries that worship into Grace Immanuel Baptist Church, where her husband serves as a minister.

While the lyrics concentrate on her love of God, Benman said the music has a very strong crossover appeal to the general public. “It almost has an inspirational feel,” she said. “The feel of the music is not churchy, churchy. It just has that inspirational, upbeat feel to it.”

Benman stated the response to the music “has been great from white, black, young and old” and from “all people of all faiths.” She said the process of making the CD with her husband and friend Minister Gayle Brannan Jr. was a learning experience, but helped her “blossom into a songwriter.”

Further projects, Benman said, are in the works for the studio, with husband Gilbert Benman planning on releasing a jazz CD later this year. She commented after that CD, she will go back to work in the studio, which is open to anyone who would like to record.

Benman’s CD may be purchased via her website, www.benmanmusicgroup.

or by calling 810-275- 4829.

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