Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Ben Ellingson

28: Ben Ellingson


Create the artist’s first live album

I’m a songwriter and guitar player who essentially just emerged in full form during the COVID lockdown. In the fall of 2020, faced with more “home time” on my hands, I asked myself what it was that I really loved to do that I’d like to devote more time to and the answer was clear. Music. So I started practicing every day, until my wife said, “Why don’t you try writing your own songs?” It’s a question I’ve faced my entire life, but this time was different. I felt the space and patience to apply myself to the full task of composing both lyrics and music and to hone the craft of performing the complete package. I’m not any kind of virtuoso vocalist, but I believe I’m a unique and gifted storyteller, and that’s what seems to be emerging in my original work. I’ve expanded my musical repertoire to include both foot percussion and harmonica in some pieces, so when I’m at my best, I’m essentially a one-man band.

Project description

Let’s be honest. I’m a pretty old guy (51) to just now be aspiring to pursue a career in music. But there’s a freedom in that. I’m happily married with a family, so I’m not too concerned about songs of juvenile heartbreak. This frees me to take on more complex subject matter. As I type this, I have just finished recording a video for NPR’s Tiny Desk contest that features a song that attempts to confront an aspect of the mass shooting crisis we are experiencing in America. Another song is a short biography of the Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. And yet another a reminiscence of the time my grandma sent my new wife and I a package of beef sticks because, as she wrote, “You can’t live off Love forever.” I even just re-wrote the Christian spiritual that goes “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord…” to be more inclusive and Mother Earth-centric, but I’m not allowed to play the song because the corporate entity that holds the rights to it denied my licensing application;-) So, in short, I guess you could say I want to try to take on topics that matter to people and to the world we’ve come to live in.

Media Sample 1

Whoever You Are. “This one represents all of my creative facets at work. Lyric writing, music composition, guitar playing, singing, foot percussion & harmonica playing.”

Media Sample 2

Love Alone. “Inspired by the pack of beef sticks my grandma sent to my wife & I shortly after we met. Came with a note saying ‘You can’t live off Love forever.'”

Website | Facebook | [email protected] on PayPal

return to candidates list

Acadia Klepeis August 17, 2023