Ben l'Oncle Soul is a French soul singer with a retro style who made his eponymous Top Five hit album debut in 2010.
Born Benjamin Duterde in 1984 in Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France, he took his name and look from Uncle Ben, the fictitious elderly African-American man dressed in a bow tie who serves as the brand image of Uncle Ben's Rice. The moniker Ben l'Oncle Soul was chosen rather than Uncle Ben to avoid any charges of trademark infringement. Years before Duterde adopted the Ben l'Oncle Soul moniker, he got his professional start as a vocalist in the Fitiavana Gospel Choir, which he joined in 2004. The Tours-based gospel choir made its album debut with I Have a Dream (2009), a collection of English-language soul classics such as "Killing Me Softly," "Lean on Me," and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." In turn, Duterde was offered a solo recording deal with the French division of Motown Records
. Billing himself as Ben l'Oncle Soul, he made his solo recording debut with the Soul Wash EP (2009). Comprised of cover material, the majority of it sung in English, the six-track EP is performed in a retro style informed by the Motown
sounds of the 1960s. A cover of the Gnarls Barkley
smash hit "Crazy" was released as a single. A half-year later, Duterde made his full-length debut with the eponymous album Ben l'Oncle Soul (2010). Produced by Guillaume Poncelet and Gabin Lesieur, the album is comprised entirely of original material, plus the cover version of the White Stripes
hit "Seven Nation Army" from the Soul Wash EP. With "Seven Nation Army" released as its lead single, Ben l'Oncle Soul was a Top Five hit on the French albums chart. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi