Graduated from Jack Yates High school in 1962.
Benard was never formally trained musically. He is one of
those born naturals. Multi-Talented, multi-instrumentalist.
He plays piano,guitar,bass,drums,flugelhorn,Alto,Soprano Sax and flute.
In addition to those things, he also is an arranger and recording
engineer. Shortly after his graduation from High School, Benard, his mother and four other siblings moved to San Diego, California.
In 1965 Benard met Dizzy Gillespie in San Diego at his older sisters home.
“I played piano and sang for him. He really liked what he heard.”
He invited me to sing with his Band the night after we met. The band consisted of Michael Longo(piano)Frank Schifano(Bass)
Candy Finch(Drums) and James Moody(Saxophone)
Dizzy wanted me to join him in Los Angeles to record.
I did join him there. We recorded five tracks at Ray Charles’
studio..A single was released as a result, on Mercury Record label. One of the songs was Dizzys’ “ Con Alma.”
Shortly after we did the recording, James Moody became ill with Bells Palsy and couldn’t play his horn.
Dizzy offered me an opportunity, and that was to join his band
as featured singer, I did just that.
I was to stay with the band until James Moody recovered. Moody
did recover after five months or so. By then, I was one of the cats. So, I stayed on even after Moody’s return. It was an experience I shall never forget.
Dizzy introduced me to Lalo Schifrin, of Mission Impossible Fame, shortly after my stint with his band. Lalo and I formed a friendship. I did an album with him,entitled’Requiem,” under a ficticious name, Alexander St.Charles.
I also co-wrote a song with Lalo entitled “Like Me”, which I sang on the sound track of the Film “Dirty Harry” starring Clint Eastwood, which Lalo scored. Benard teamed up again with Lalo years later. This time to perform and record with Sarah Vaughn and an International orchestra and choir. Some of the late Pope John Paul II’s poetry was put to music. Lalo Schifrin and Francy Boland wrote the arrangements.
Benard became involved doing some background vocal session work on the hollywood scene. Some of the artists he did backup work for were artist like James taylor and countless numbers of Commercials. This performance was recorded at the Classy Gourmet in Century City, Ca.