VERSED: The ASCAP Podcast / Ep. 17 - Benjamin Lerner
September 24, 2020
LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE
VERSED is a bi-weekly podcast illuminating the heart and soul of music. Featuring in-depth interviews with songwriters and composers, plus tips and insights to help you navigate your music career. Brought to you by ASCAP, home of the world's greatest music creators.
Songwriter, pianist and rapper Benjamin Lerner is the great grandson of Irving Berlin - the songwriter of “God Bless America” and “White Christmas.” Lerner has continued his family’s musical legacy, first as an award-winning classical pianist, then as a promising rapper who collaborated with Raekwon and Mac Miller. But his hip-hop career was halted when Lerner started using hard drugs, eventually becoming a full-blown heroin addict. Now four years sober, Lerner devotes much of his time to helping others through the recovery process. He talks to VERSED about his new album Clean, a fearless narration of his journey from piano prodigy to IV drug addict to recovery advocate - all set to a unique combination of solo piano and rapped vocals. PLUS: We talk to Mollie Farrell from HeadCount, a non-partisan organization that uses the power of music to register voters and promote participation in democracy. At the end of the episode, we’re joined by Loras Schissel of the Library of Congress, who explains why it’s never too early to create an archive of your life as a music creator.
EP. 17 FEATURED INTERVIEW: BENJAMIN LERNER
Benjamin Lerner, the great-grandson of Irving Berlin (composer of such iconic tunes as “God Bless America” and “White Christmas”), is a Vermont-based composer, writer and recovery advocate. Benjamin started his musical career as a classical piano prodigy. By his early twenties, he was an IV heroin and crack cocaine addict. Now sober since June 13, 2016, he now journals his journey in addiction and sobriety in his all new piano-raps, which combine classical piano and rap.
Benjamin credits his continued success in recovery to his ability to express his emotions relating to his struggle through word and song. “When I first went to rehab,” Benjamin admits, “I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to make music anymore, because I made music about doing drugs for so long, I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it without getting high. It took getting clean for me to realize that expression and creativity are the drugs I’ve been searching for all along. I’m still a junkie. I just get high off of music now.”
Benjamin has had the pleasure of performing for the National Academy of Medicine and The Aspen Institute. In 2019, he was the composer-in-residence at 1761 Arts, and he was scheduled to make his Carnegie Hall debut in April 2020 as part of the Indie Collaborative (postponed due to COVID-19).
His debut album, CLEAN, was released in February 2020. It was co-written and produced by Joshua Sherman at Old Mill Road Recording in East Arlington, Vermont.
Mollie Farrell is the Director of Artist Relations at HeadCount. The role at HeadCount is a dream union for two of Mollie’s greatest passions: fostering human connection and designing creative solutions. One of her favorite parts of working at HeadCount is growing the organization’s roster of artist partners in an effort to reach bigger, younger, and more diverse audiences. Prior to HeadCount, Mollie was the COO of G4D Productions, where she served as an event producer, production coordinator, and artist liaison. She holds a BA in Interpersonal Communication from the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. Mollie lives in Brooklyn and her love language is sending people memes.