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July 7, 2021 55 min
Born and raised in Ontario, Ben Wilkins moved to Montreal, Quebec, at the age of eighteen to study music at McGill University. He majored in Classical Trumpet and soaked up whatever he could regarding composition, arranging, singing, theory and jazz harmony – spending countless nights sneaking into the piano studios afterhours to write songs. Upon graduation, Wilkins received a scholarship to study Mandarin in China, and spent the better part of a year at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Beijing Language and Culture University. In 2008, he returned to Montreal to perform locally and at colleges and clubs in the north-eastern U.S. Shortly after, he was approached by Pascal Shefteshy, an acclaimed engineer and producer working for famous producer Pierre Marchand (Sarah McLachlan, Rufus Wainwright) to record an album. They got to work, and then just as their limited budget was running out, Marchand announced that he was going to India for three months, leaving the door to his studio open and Wilkins and Shefteshy in the position to record an album without compromise. Wilkins' first independent release "Back Of My Head EP", was featured on NPR's All Things Considered and prominently featured on the NPR music website as &"Piano Pop, Beautifully Arranged”. The single reached a top 50 position after only a few weeks of tracking on commercial radio and stayed in the charts for more than twenty weeks. His second single, &"Through To You" was launched to radio stations across Quebec with impressive results, hitting top 10 adult contemporary, reaching 6th position for 5 consecutive weeks. Ben Wilkins debut self-titled album, signed to Milagro Records, was released in stores across Canada on October 18th, 2011. The album has since received rave reviews from Le Journal de Montreal, Le Soleil, Le Devoir, and was featured as a favorite by both Archambault, Renaud-Bray and HMV – and was in the top ten albums of 2012 according to Icon Fetch, and 98.5 FM - Montreal's most listened to radio station. Wilkins was scouted by S.L. Feldman & Associates and toured through Quebec and Ontario – headlining theaters and opening for artists such as David Usher, Eric Lapointe, Cowboy Junkie, Matthew Good, and Kim Mitchell. He was named in the top 5 favorite arts in the Chicoutimi Jazz and Blues Festival and his various live formats, be it a band of seven, a trio or solo, have been very well received by audiences and critics alike.
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