George Benson’s “Inspiration”

Posted July 19th, 2013 at 1:48 pm (UTC+0)
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By Diaa Bekheet | Washington, DC

George Benson

Guitar legend George Benson has released a new tribute to the great jazz singer and pianist Nat King Cole. The disc — Inspiration — opens with one of Cole’s signature songs, “Mona Lisa,” a track recorded by Benson in 1951, when he was eight years old. Benson had won a singing contest that year: “The reward was they want to take you to a recording studio. To a little kid, that was the biggest thing that could happen to me.”


The 13-track album showcases renditions of some of Cole’s greatest songs, including “When I fall In Love,”  “Route 66,” and “Unforgettable.” The album has arrangements by Nelson Riddle and the 42-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra.

The album brings together a wide range of performers, including Broadway star Idina Menzel, pop singer Judith Hill, and  jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

Listen to more music and interviews here on Jazz Beat

Here’s my 1999 profile of George Benson on VOA’s Jazz Club USA show in Arabic.

Diaa Bekheet
Diaa Bekheet has worked for a host of media outlets, including Radio Cairo in English, ETV News, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and the Associated Press. He joined VOA in Feb. 1989 as an International Broadcaster, hosting a variety of popular news and entertainment shows such as Newshour, Radio Ride Across America, Business Week, and Jazz Club USA. He has interviewed a number of Jazz celebrities, including the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, Ramsey Lewis, Wayne Shorter, and George Benson. Diaa is currently an editor for our main English site,

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