We had the good fortune of connecting with Benjamin Cortez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Benjamin, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
I am a textbook over-thinker, so risk taking doesn’t come naturally to me! However, I believe that it’s important to be bold and take risks in the work that you do. I think that some of the best artistic works were born from an artist allowing themself to be vulnerable and give away a part of themself to their audience. While it certainly can feel like a huge risk to do so, I have learned that the reward of making a personal connection with my listeners completely eclipses my initial feelings of hesitation and self-doubt.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I write and perform music that is inspired by the timeless music of the 60s and 70s! Having grown up on a nearly exclusive diet of records from artists such as The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and Elton John, my goal as an artist is to breathe a breath of fresh air into the golden era of pop music with soulful, high energy performances. I released my debut album “In Your Hands” in 2018, for which I recorded keyboards, guitars, bass guitar, drums, vocals, and all of the other instruments at my home studio. I also perform live at various venues and special events around the valley with my 7-piece band, which includes a horn section!
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
One of the first things I’d do is take them to an Open Mic night at Sozo Coffeehouse. The owners of Sozo, Lori and Scott Morgan, host an amazing community of emerging songwriters and performers, and they have excellent coffee and other refreshments! (I highly recommend the cinnamon roll). We’d definitely have to get pupusas and other amazing authentic Salvadoran dishes at the Salvadoreño Restaurant on Mesa Drive and Southern as well. I’d also love to take them to the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert to see some of the beautiful natural vegetation and wildlife of the desert, and it would be a crime not to show them the remarkable exhibits at the Musical Instrument Museum!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First and foremost, I would love to thank my amazing parents, Jaime and Kari, for their love and guidance on my journey. I would love to give a shoutout to my musical mentor, Raul Yañez, for his willingness to share his wealth of knowledge as an amazingly accomplished veteran freelance pianist and music professor in the valley. I would also love to give a shoutout to Shane & Megan Baskerville, who own the three School of Rock locations in Arizona. They have always been incredibly supportive of my musical development ever since I started attending the School of Rock in Ahwatukee during my high school years, and they taught me countless invaluable professional skills that helped me immensely to be a successful working musician. Lastly, I would love to give a shoutout to Michael Kocour and the rest of the wonderful faculty of the jazz program from the ASU School of Music for their belief in what I do, and for giving me countless opportunities to better my musical craft.
Cyler Resendez, Meghan Herring
Nominate someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.