Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

V Is for Victory in Ben's Journey from Streets to Fame ; Singer Was Inspired by Churchill in His Struggle to Find Musical Success after Being Homeless

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

V Is for Victory in Ben's Journey from Streets to Fame ; Singer Was Inspired by Churchill in His Struggle to Find Musical Success after Being Homeless

Article excerpt

IT'S a week after the General Election and songwriter Benjamin Clementine is speaking in awed tones about the Prime Minister. Nope, not David Cameron - he's enthusing about a former PM and the man who inspired the opening track on Clementine's debut album, At Least For Now.

"It came from a Winston Churchill speech I heard at school, in an English lesson," says Clementine, explaining the inspiration behind his sublime track Winston Churchill's Boys.

"We did a lesson on Churchill's wartime speeches, and they just really stuck with me; they struck a chord. Later on in life, those words really came back to me when I was in a difficult situation.

"Churchill's someone who's always fascinated me."

It's not just Benjamin's taste in PMs which marks him as an old soul, however.

An artist of anachronistic beauty, the 25-year-old's soul- meetsclassical stylings put him closer to the likes of Edith Piaf or Nina Simone than the earnest, radio-friendly troubadours currently clogging up today's charts.

His high-profile fans include Bjork and Paul McCartney, whilst Clementine's recently released debut album At Least For Now reached the iTunes top 10 in territories including France, Italy and Holland.

To say that Clementine is relieved that people are finally talking about him for his music would be an understatement.

Indeed, thanks to his intriguing back story, there was a lengthy period when his reputation far exceeded that of his output.

Raised in north London, he left school at 16, spent a period being homeless, then moved to Paris when he turned 18.

Sleeping in a hostel, he took to busking to make ends meet: from bars and restaurants to streets and the Paris Metro - his profile raised sufficiently for Virgin/EMI to offer him a record contract.

Understandably, it's a fairytale narrative that he's keen to down play - the realities of a life sleeping rough the last thing he'd want to romanticise for PR purposes. …

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