Benjamin Clementine Brings Unique Balladry to MASS MoCA

Benjamin Clementine

Benjamin Clementine

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — Benjamin Clementine — the uncategorizable London-based singer-poet, pianist, and composer who won England’s coveted Mercury Prize for his 2015 debut album, “At Least for Now,” gives a solo concert in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA on Saturday, October 15, at 8:30pm. The concert culminates activities surrounding the opening of artist Nick Cave’s exhibition, ““Until,” and Clementine is performing at the behest of Cave himself.

In his short time in the public arena, Benjamin Clementine has been compared to Nina Simone, Antony, and Édith Piaf for his striking, otherworldly vocal delivery. Other musical reference points are Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley, and the singer is equally known for his shimmering, lush piano style. A once-homeless teen who now has cult status in the French music and art world, Clementine is on the brink of becoming a global phenomenon.


With a voice that The Quietus calls “a force to be reckoned with — throaty, powerful, and theatrical to the point of histrionic,” Clementine tugs at every heartstring, one resonant crescendo at a time. An autobiographical singer of the poetic tradition, Clementine’s songwriting is ambitious, soulful, and uncompromising in its sincerity — and his piano-playing bears all the hallmarks of unorthodoxy that you would expect from a successful autodidact. “If someone asks me what’s my real ambition,” Clementine says, “I’m an expressionist, and I want my voice to sound like that violin playing ‘The Lark Ascending’.”


Clementine’s robust music is wrought with the turbulent odyssey of his past. After leaving school at age 16, disagreements with his family inspired a move to Paris, where the young musician with nothing to his name — including a fixed address — began busking around the Place de Clichy metro to scrape by, honing his public singing voice and persona. Clementine’s musical career was sparked by a chance encounter, which led to a recording contract. In 2013, Clementine’s song “Cornerstone” rose to the most shared song on Spotify practically overnight. His most recent album, “At Least For Now” (2015) has grabbed listeners with its poignant “declaration of selfhood” (New York Times) since the day it dropped.


Benjamin Clementine performs in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Saturday, October 15, at 8:30pm, following the opening reception for Nick Cave: Until. Dinner and snacks are available from Lickety Split before the show. A full bar serves Bright Ideas Brewing beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Tickets are $16 for students, $26 advance, $33 day of, and $45 preferred. The opening reception is free for members and $8 for not-yet-members. Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays through September 5. Beginning September 7, the box office is open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. The museum is closed on Tuesday, September 6. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA.


MASS MoCA is one of the world’s liveliest (and largest) centers for making and enjoying today’s most important art, music, dance, theater, film, and video.


Gallery admission is $18 for adults, $16 for veterans and seniors, $12 for students, $8 for children 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under. Members are admitted free year-round. The Hall Art Foundation’s Anselm Kiefer exhibition is open seasonally, spring – fall. For additional information, call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit MASS MoCA.


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