>SUCKER GARDEN, St. Maarten – Singer and musician extraordinaire, Benjamin Bell has promised to bring a message of hope come Saturday, August 11, 2018, when he and his band, ‘God’s Chosen’ take to the stage at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium to open the production, ‘The Rise and Fall of King Solomon’.
The band will be one of two opening act before the dramatization of a play that retells the biblical story of one of Israel’s wisest kings. The production, one of the first major initiatives of Better Opportunity for Talent (BOFT), will also feature Christian Fellowship Church Total Restoration dance ministry, veteran actor Earl Duzong, singer Karen Cadogan, as well as Esther Davis and Esther Narcisco-Williams.
The production draws acts from a wide cross-section of Christian and secular talents of the island. Touching on his involvement, Bell stated that he is “willing to be everywhere as long as you are spreading the gospel.”
An inspirational singer/songwriter, Bell moves his audience with his fusion of Soul/R&B/Jazz-type gospel numbers. He is no longer in the shadow of his brothers, popularly known as ‘The Bell Brothers’. Being the youngest of six boys to Pastor Victor Bell and his late wife, Josianne, of Praise Tabernacle Church in Cole Bay, the St. Maarten-born recording artiste said it was not easy finding his own style.
“I have been into music forever,” said Bell who played the percussions and was also a lead singer with ‘The Bell Brothers’. He said growing up in the church helped nurtured that love for music and being around music so long caused it to become like second nature to him. He, however, credits his brother, Joshua for helping him to discover his style of music.
“My full love for music really happened when I was in the fifth grade. I broke my hand…and while in the hospital, my brother Joshua gave me his Walkman with ‘The Winans’ [cassette] on it,” said Bell in reference to the American, Grammy-winning group known for their soulful gospel music.
He loved their R&B sound and connected instantly to that style of music, a deviation from his brothers who have “a kind of soft rock style”.
“I discovered then my niche and said this is what I want to do. Eventually, I heard Fred Hammond with the group ‘Commissioned’ as well [and] I really fell in love with music totally,” said Bell, chronicling his musical journey.
But his metamorphosis was not over yet. By the time he was ready to graduate from elementary school, he had fallen in love with the sound of Grammy-winning R&B ‘Boyz II Men’. Although a secular group, Bell said their lyrics were clean and he loved that they spoke about love, so be began to study their style. Today, his voice takes on “all of Boyz II Men”.
Reflecting on his style, Bell, a vocal trainer, describes himself as an all-rounder who can do reggae style, soft rock, jazz, and R&B. He just likes the freedom the various genres give him to express himself differently every time he sings and that is what the audience can expect Saturday night. He underscores that when he sings it is to give glory to God at all times. It does not make a difference how large his audience is, just as long as he is giving his heart to what he is doing every time.
The graduate of Milton Peters College and the University of St. Martin describes himself as more than a singer and a musician. The father of three, who contested in the last Parliamentary elections, has also produced an award-winning song, ‘Bold’, and together with ‘God’s Chosen’ has racked up more than eleven trophies while representing St. Maarten.
‘God’s Chosen’, which originally included his brother, Joseph and cousin, Eugene Hanson Jr. a.k.a. ‘Torch’, started as a Christian Hip Hop and R&B group, of which Bell was the lead singer. Today, God’s Chosen is a full band with back-up singers. Bell said come Saturday night, their songs will tie into the theme of the play, ‘The Rise and fall of King Solomon’, which portrays a king who had many wives and concubines.
He is, however, tight-lipped about the pieces he and his band will be performing as he wants it to be a surprise.
“I think one of the things I really want to see on St. Maarten is high quality production… and you can see the level is really starting to grow. I want to be able to spread the gospel on that kind of level. I want to see that St. Maarten can reach to that kind of level where our artistes are revered like the international artistes and my musicians are to that level,” the tax consultant.
Tickets for the show are on sale at SOS Radio, Family Bookstore, and VanDorp Stores. Cast members also have tickets. Adults cost $20, while children will pay only $5.