Camila Benson

Biography by

Camila Benson (born: Frances Hall) has spent her life exploring her two passions -- music and the flying trapeze. In her teens, she traveled throughout South America with a circus and acquired a reputation…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Camila Benson (born: Frances Hall) has spent her life exploring her two passions -- music and the flying trapeze. In her teens, she traveled throughout South America with a circus and acquired a reputation for her daring and exciting work with a trapeze troupe. Her greatest success, however, has come through music. Since launching her musical career at the age of 17, Benson has brought her virtuosic instrumental skills and passionate singing to more than 79 countries. Fluent in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and her native Portuguese, Benson has carved her own style inspired by the bossa nova of Antonio Carlos Jobim and the melodic playing of Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell.

Raised on a large homestead near the Amazon jungle, Benson (who was given her professional name by Carmen McRae) showed amazing musical skill at a very early age. Singing and playing guitar by the age of four, she added the violin, accordion, and organ by her ninth birthday. Three years later, she began playing tenor saxophone. By the age of 15, she had added the trombone. Shortly afterwards, she joined the circus as an aerialist. During the two years that she traveled with the circus, she was exposed to a wide variety of music, including the Brazilian Bahia.

After leaving the circus to begin her professional music career, Benson began a long series of gigs in hotels. Although she usually performed solo while accompanying herself on guitar, she occasionally played accordion and saxophone during her performances. Within a couple of years, Benson began touring throughout South and Central America, Europe, and Africa. Although she temporarily settled in Paris, remaining in the French city for nine years, she continued on to London, where she settled in 1975. Although she performed several shows with Slide Hampton's jazz band in 1974, Benson continued to work primarily as a soloist. A turning point in her career came in 1977 when she met and became friends with computer programmer and composer Ryo Kawasaki, then touring with the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine at the Ronnie Scott Club in London. Benson renewed her friendship with Kawasaki when she traveled to New York in 1993. With the assistance of Kawasaki's business partner and producer Kiyoshi Itoh, she was signed to Kawasaki's record label Satellites. While her debut album, Waves, released in 1995, combined tunes by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bob Marley, and Leon Russell, her subsequent albums -- Memories, released in 1996, and Desafinado -- were devoted to the songs of Jobim.