Jorge Ben Jor
337 S.W. 8th Street
Miami, FL, 33130
Jorge Ben Jor
Jorge Ben Jor (born March 22, 1942 in Rio de Janeiro) is a Brazilian popular musician. His characteristic style fuses samba, funk, and rock into samba-rock, with lyrics that blend humor and satire with often esoteric subject matter. Born Jorge Duilio Lima Menezes, he initially took the stage name Jorge Ben after his mother's name (of Ethiopian origin) but later changed it to Jorge Ben Jor (commonly written Benjor), allegedly in response to an incident where some of his royalties had accidentally gone to American guitarist George Benson.
Jorge Ben obtained his first pandeiro (Brazil's most popular type of tambourine) when he was thirteen, and two years later, was singing in a church choir. He also took part as a pandeiro player in the blocos of Carnival, and from eighteen years of age, he began performing at parties and nightclubs with the guitar his mother gave him.
It was at one of those clubs in which he performed that his musical career took off. In 1963, Jorge came on stage and sang "Mas Que Nada" (or "no way") to a small crowd that happened to include an executive from the recording company, Philips. One week later, Jorge Ben's first single was released.
The hybrid rhythms that Jorge employed brought him some problems at the start of his career, when Brazilian music was split between the rockier sounds of the Jovem Guarda and traditional samba with its complex lyrics. But as that phase in Brazilian pop music history passed, and bossa nova became more well known throughout the world, Jorge rose to prominence.
All music fans will recognize Jorge Ben Jor's "Mas Que Nada," which has been interpreted by countless jazz luminaries such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Al Jarreau, The Black Eyed Peas (used by Nike worldwide during 2006 World Cup) and most famously by Sergio Mendes, who made Ben Jor's song the trademark of his career.
Other genre-defying hits for Jorge Ben Jor have included "Taj Mahal," which famously led to a plagiarism lawsuit against Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" that was settled in Ben Jor's favor. More recently, Ben Jor collaborated with hip-hop artists Dead Prez, Talib Kweli and Bilal to remake the famous Fela Kuti song "Shuffering and Shmiling" for the Red Hot Organization's critically acclaimed "Red Hot + Riot" album that raised money for various charities devoted to AIDS awareness and research.