About RJ Benjamin
"The best composer, singer, musician this country [South Africa] has ever produced."
RJ Benjamin is a highly sought-after, award-winning South African Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer, Vocal Coach and Musical Director. He graduated from the Allenby Campus School Of Contemporary Music in 2000 and began lecturing at the now defunct school shortly afterwards, primarily as a vocal coach but also teaching music history and songwriting. In those formative years, RJ cemented several professional and personal relationships with fellow Allenby Alumni such as DJ Cleo, Proverb, Elvis Blue and Robin Kohl.
He has since taught at the Damelin School Of Contemporary Music, The National School Of The Arts, St Stithians and T.I.M.E. Some of his most successful students include winner of Idols SA season 10 Vincent Bones, Vusi Nova, Naaq Music and Anatii.
In 2002, televison personality Caz Abrahams accompanied Big Brother SA season 1 contestant Irvan (Swirve) Damon to a singing lesson he had booked with RJ. Soon after this chance encounter, Abrahams signed RJ to his independent label 'One Up Music' and supported the recording of RJ's first three-song demo. Two of these songs would eventually end up on his first album, namely the title track "Who I Am" and "C U In My Dreams", which became RJ's first radio single. Abrahams entered into a joint venture with independent label 'Ghetto Ruff' who went on to release RJ's debut album Who I Am in 2004, shortly after RJ had featured as the vocal coach on the music reality show Project Fame.
The critically acclaimed Who I Am featured collaborations with Tamara Dey, Amu, Ishmael and Pitch Black Afro. RJ wrote & produced the majority of the album, while 37mph, Bongani Fassie & Craig Massive lent their skills as collaborating producers. The album gained a nomination for Best Adult Contemporary at 2005 SAMA Awards.
Swimming In The Soul Of Music was released in 2008. This sophomore album represented a more sophisticated artist determined to show off the hard work he'd poured into his craft. The musician had focused all of his musical roots and influences of soul, jazz and funk into an album that reflected its maker's ambition of creating something more cohesive than its predecessor. RJ won the award for Best RnB Album at the Metro FM Awards later that same year. Included on the album was the South African Hip Hop classic "Dreamer", a collaboration with ex Skwatta Kamp member Slikour.
In 2009 RJ recorded "Change The World" for Soul Candi. The song was a collaboration between RJ, Dr Duda and Masterjam. His inviting vocals and inspirational message seduced the nation. It became an instant hit and anthem on radio stations and dance floors all over South Africa. The track receive Channel O and SAMA nominations for Best Dance Video and Song of the Year, respectively.
Following the huge success of "Change the World", RJ released the album House Bound in 2010. The album showcased his vocal and song-writing skills in the House music genre which, ultimately, returned him to his RnB and soul roots when he released "soulified" versions of the same tracks on the album Inside shortly after . Inside is a reminder to people of his artistic versatility. In RJ's words, "I've taken thirteen house tracks that I've sung on over the past five years and re-interpreted them in unexpected ways." The album features several hits including "Into The Stars", another collaboration with Future Micasa band member Dr Duda as well as "Goodbye Baby", produced by Who I Am collaborator 37MPH.
RJ challenged the system over the years, becoming despondent with the music industry and even controversially taking a break from recording and performing in 2010.
A new chapter began in RJ's career late in 2012 when he reprised his television career, becoming Musical Director of the reality show 'Clash Of The Choirs SA'. The show received a SAFTA award for 'Best International Format Show' in its second season. He has since worked as Musical Director on Idols SA Season 9, In-house Mentor for Idols SA from Seasons 10 to present day, Vocal Coach on the Voice SA Season 1 and Musical Director of The Voice Nigeria Season 1.
RJ finally returned to the recording industry in 2015 with the EP The 5th Story. The EP gives a glimpse into RJ's years since taking a break. 'Only Ever Loved You' reveals to the listener what RJ calls "two heavy heart stories", one told by himself and the other by featured artist Ziyon. Although the song's content is melancholy, the collaboration is dynamic and funky, much like the more upbeat "All Falls Down" featuring rapper Proverb. The EP is rounded off by "So High" featuring Can Skylark, "Never Give Up" and "Nobody Else".
Early in 2016, RJ released the single "Dali Wami" featuring Wanda Baloyi and co-written by Njabulo Seh, with plans to release the The 5th Story album in 2017.
If The 5th Story EP and 'DaliWami' are a crystal ball into the full album, RJ's fans will be enjoying what is sure to be another classic from SA's Godfather of Neo-Soul.
get it touch
Contact Roy Ben Music
Roy Ben Music Management