Born Vernell Benton Thomas aka OnlyBenton, the out-going Baton Rouge, Louisiana native is a singer and songwriter who is now based in Los Angeles, California.
This dope, chill, and sultry baritone singer/songwriter served 10 years in the Army and now has a sound you didn’t know you were missing. When asked what inspires him to write and perform music, OnlyBenton says, “Life inspires me to write every day. My highs, lows, experiences…and the experiences of those around me.” OnlyBenton’s belief is that music can save and heal us, and he enjoys creating songs that promote human connection, self-love and awareness.
Check my exclusive interview with him below:
Hey Benton! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Yoooo! Hey you guys, My name is OnlyBenton and I am a CREATIVE! I am a singer/ songwriter from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I currently live in Los Angeles and I just released my first EP, “Words Fall Short“.
Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
A day in my life is pretty chill. It usually starts with some form of meditation and then taking my dog Sage for a walk. I would follow that by a hike or a workout session. After I’ve showered and answered a few email while drinking ginger tea (my fave), its off to a studio session. Some sessions are for my personal music and some are just writing sessions for other artists or projects. Day usually ends with dinner and quality time with my fiancé.
What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I attended Full Sail University and obtained my BSc in Music Business in March 2015.
How were you discovered and how did you end up also falling in love with music, why?
I fell in love with music at a very young age. I was about 7 or 8 when I knew that I wanted to sing. I guess singing and writing songs in church was the start of that discovery. I joined a choir that was nominated for a Grammy and after my first tour, I was inspired and wanted to do more in this industry outside of the gospel spectrum.
You went deep in your R&B/ Soul music roots and last year dropped the single “About Us”. Tell us more about what it felt like recording that song?
Recording ‘About Us’ was soooo amazing! The song was a love letter of sorts to my bae & I wrote it about reassurance in a relationship.
On August 1st, on your birthday you released an EP titled “Words Fall Short” was released, which was the inspiration behind the title and what’s the message behind it?
Yes, on my Birthday I released my 1st EP and I’m so excited. The title of my EP “Words Fall Short”, came to me in the middle of the night. I love talking, but I find it hard to articulate what’s needed in some conversations, especially the tough ones. There are times my words fell short because of what I didn’t say. So this project is my way to close those words that once fell short.
You once said “that music can save and heal us”, why do you think so?
I believe that music can save and heal us because music is one thing that connects us all in so many ways. Music inspires us, music connects us with others in different walks of life. Music can be your saving grace or a message of strength.
You are also a Voiceover Actor, tell us more about that?
Yes, I am a Voiceover Actor and I started training this year. I am still taking classes to learn more about the business and sharpen my skillset. I have a few gigs in the works that I can’t really talk about, but let’s just say you’ll hear my voice on TV real soon.
What projects or works have you voiced?
No current VoiceOver work out yet, but coming soon!!! Real soon!!!
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever experienced since entering into the music scene?
The strangest and scariest thing I’ve experienced since being in the music scene would have to be a horrible studio fight that led to someone pulling out a gun. Craziest shit ever!
As an artist, what are your 5 Dos and Don’ts?
As an artist 5 dos and don’ts (collectively):
- Don’t compare yourself to other artists.
- Don’t sign anything until consulting with lawyer.
- Do take chances and bet on yourself.
- Do invest into your craft and career.
- Don’t settle.
Talking about fitness, considering all gyms were closed due to COVID-19, but now re-opening what ways were you still workout?
During the gym closures due to COVID-19, I resulted to outside workouts and hikes. I love being outdoors anyway, so it wasn’t a bad transition.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
Balancing my personal and professionally life is pretty easy. I make time and schedule what’s needed for both honestly. I have scheduled times on my calendar for work and pleasure. I intentionally maintain balance.
How would you describe the music industry in the United States, when it comes to encouraging LGBTQI artists?
The music industry in the United States has become more indie based it seems. So the spaces for artists in the LGBTQIA community is more prevalent now. Especially with the avenues to distribute your music on your own, It makes it easier to reach or establish a following. Also, being apart of the LGBT+ community isn’t so much in the shadows or hidden like things were years ago.
What do you consider the most common stereotype about being a songwriter?
I guess the most common stereotype is thinking that a songwriter can only write one specific genre of music.
What aspect surprised you the most once you started as?
The aspect that surprised me the most was how many artists don’t write their own music.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
My biggest professional success so far would be working on projects that landed placements in TV/film works.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
I would love to work with any Dreamville artists and H.E.R.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge being an independent artists is silencing that inner saboteur. As an artist, it’s tough enough with just being creative and innovative. I had to silence the negativity.
Tell us two things people don’t know about you?
Two things people don’t know, hmmmmm…
- I love eating ice cream and French fries (together).
- I’m kinda afraid of clowns. Lol
As an active influencer on social media. Do you think its important to be online and if so why?
Yes I think its important to be online to stay active and engage with your supporters. Attention spans are short so its important to produce content and engage with you audience.
You are a native of Baton Rouge but now based in Los Angeles. How is that working out for you?
Yes I am a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and now living in LA has been great. I was in the Army for 10 years and have lived in a few states and countries. So, living in LA has been great for me.
What will you say are your must-visit travel destinations?
I must visit Africa, Fiji and Thailand. A MUST!!!
How would you describe your style?
My style is soulful sultry R&B!
Name your 5 must-have accessories/essentials?
5 must have essentials:
- Air pods
- Akaline Water
- White owls
- Phone charger
- Strawberry Twizzlers
What are your favourite fashion trends?
My favorite fashion trend would be athleisure wear/ hybrid clothing.
What is your favourite dish?
My favorite dish is my Mama’s meatloaf.
What songs are currently on your music playlist?
Songs currently on my music playlist would consist of Chloe x Halle, Snoh Aalegra, and 6LACK.
Apart from being an artist, what other projects are you currently working on?
Apart from being an artists I am a songwriter so I have a few projects I’m writing for. Writing for a gospel artist and for a Pop/EDM artist. I am also working on developing the for a web series.
Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
The advice I have for others is to never stop pushing. If you want to achieve success don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail sometimes. Discover and rediscover new ways to reach your end goal.
Any specific plans for the future?
No specific plans other than continuing to put out music that will inspire and give people a vibe. Also, to take full advantage of the opportunities that come my way.
Any final words?
Thank you for this interview and feature. I appreciate you…FRFR!!! To any supporters or anyone who is just hearing about me, THANK YOU for the support and love. Continue to rock out with me and I’ll be sure to deliver VIBES!!!
Where can we follow you online and on social media?