Ben Tankard

Ben Tankard
Background information
Birth name Benjamin Tankard
Also known as Godfather of Gospel Jazz
Born (1964-01-10) January 10, 1964
Origin Daytona Beach, Florida
Genres Gospel, jazz, Contemporary Gospel, Smooth jazz
Occupation(s) Motivational Speaker, producer, arranger, pianist
Instruments Keyboard, piano , tuba , guitar, trumpet
Years active 1990s-present
Labels Tribute (Ben-Jamin' Universal), Verity / Sony Music Entertainment,
Associated acts Gerald Albright, Take 6, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Whalum, Wayman Tisdale
Notable instruments
Keyboards, piano, tuba, guitar
Ben and Jewel Tankard receiving Stellar Award

Ben Tankard (born January 10, 1964) is a 6'6" former professional basketball player and an American gospel, jazz keyboardist producer, author, recording artist, and songwriter with over 250 songs recorded, and 14 Stellar Awards, and 21 gold and platinum records earned in his career to date. Tankard and his wife Jewel donate their time as non-salary senior pastors of Destiny Center Church of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Tankard is also a motivational speaker for the National Basketball Association D-League and a reality television co-star with the Bravo show, Thicker Than Water. The family show premiered November 10, 2013. Season two premiered on Sunday January 4, 2015. Season three premiered on Sunday March 27, 2016.

He and R&B/Gospel veteran, Shirley Murdock recently received RIAA Gold records for their WOW Gospel 2006 Collaboration which climbed to #1 Gospel and #20 on Billboard Top 200 and is certified Gold for more than 500,000 sales. His arrangement of the Lionel Richie song "Jesus Is Love" has been one of the most played songs on Sirius XM Radio gospel channel for ten years running. He has been a BMI writer (Broadcast Music, Inc.) for over 25 years.


After a brief stay in the Canadian and U.S. professional basketball arena as a 6'6" shooting guard, Tankard left the league with a knee injury and turned to his new love, music. He discovered his gift to play jazz piano in a church miracle service and immediately changed his life's course from sports to music. He considers his keyboard and producer talents gifts from God and has never taken piano music lessons.

In 1990 at just twenty five years old, Tankard discovered a third grade school teacher named Yolanda Adams, and signed her to his new independent record label, Tribute Records (Ben-Jamin' Universal Music). He produced several of her earlier works including: Through the Storm, Save the World, More Than A Melody, and Yolanda... Live in Washington. They collaborated on over 40 compositions. Tankard credits Yolanda Adams' voice for helping to bring his production style and keyboard playing to a large audience. Tankard has also recorded a series of well received instrumental solo albums and soundtracks, with music styles ranging from pop to R&B to smooth jazz.[1][2] Tankard was the first artist to dedicate complete instrumental albums to a mixture of gospel and jazz, thus the term "GospelJazz".

Considered an industry trailblazer, Tankard has owned his own record label/production company for twenty five years . His musical accomplishments have earned him three Grammy nominations, eleven Dove Award nominations, and fourteen Stellar Awards including 2010's "Best Instrumental Album" for his Mercy, Mercy, Mercy CD.[3] This high charting release featured an instrumental remake of the Chris Tomlin Christian hit song, "How Great Is Our God". Though many of Tankard's releases have received heavy rotation on gospel and smooth jazz stations, The Weather Channel, XM Satellite Radio and cable TV's Music Choice, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy was the first CD in the history of Billboard Magazine to chart on the gospel, contemporary jazz, and jazz chart all at the same time.[4]

With his ability to assemble talent for his recordings, Tankard has been also been called the "Quincy Jones of Gospel", and is the bestselling gospeljazz instrumentalist of all-time with 19 solo albums to his credit.[5][6] In addition to his extensive work with Yolanda Adams, Tankard has produced and collaborated with several other Grammy Award winning, gold and platinum artists including, Take 6, Fred Hammond, Kelly Price, John P. Kee, Shirley Murdock, Twinkie Clark and Gerald Albright. He has earned 15 Gold and 6 Platinum records in his twenty five years in the music business.

Now based in Murfreesboro (near Nashville), Tankard is an avid aviator and instrument rated pilot. He flies to most of his concerts on his own fleet of airplanes. He makes over 100 special appearances and concerts each year including for jazz festivals, gospel events, and corporations. His dream aircraft are the low wing Pilatus PC-12 and high wing Quest Kodiak. He currently personally flies the low wing Piper PA-32R Lance / Saratoga and the high wing Cessna Skymaster Skyrocket. Tankard shares the joy of flight with young children through his Urban Eagles outreach program which gives them a "first look" at opportunities in aviation from pilots to mechanics. As a pilot/broker/consultant he has owned and/or flown twenty five different airplanes and has nearly 3,000 flight time hours as an instrument rated pilot-in-command. He is a longstanding member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and Cessna Pilots Association (CPA).

Since 2012 Tankard has worked with the National Basketball Association (NBA) on special projects as a musician and speaker. He provides support for the New York-based NBA League office player development division and his role allows him to share his success stories and show the players "how to have a life outside of basketball". In his motivational sessions with the younger D-League players, Ben often plays a smoothjazz mini-concert from the piano as the players write out their goals and plans.

Tankard married Jewel LaGreen on January 27, 2000. They have a blended family of five children (Marcus, Brooklyn, Britney, Benji, and Cyrene), two daughters-in-law (Latisha and Shanira) and three grandchildren (Diamond, Micah, and Billie). Tankards often speak on TV and at national conferences on marriage and the blended family. In 2002, The Tankards launched the Destiny Center Church in Murfreesboro, which is also the national headquarters for Tribute Records/Ben-Jamin'. Destiny Center is one of the most visited churches in the Mid-State and the Tankards donate their time as Pastors of the community based church that started as a bible study group in their mansion. Tankard considers himself a "reacher not a preacher" and using role playing and real life examples in his weekly services at the church that he says are designed to encourage, empower and motivate.

On July 16, 2011 Tankard was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Musical Excellence as an artist, producer, and songwriter by the Atlanta Gospel-fest. Ben Tankard is also a noted speaker and has spoken at major venues and events for the NBA, Joel Osteen, and Bishop T.D. Jakes amongst others.

Tankard's eighteenth studio album, Ben Tankard/Full Tank, was released on June 5, 2012 on his revamped Tribute Records (Ben-Jamin' Universal Music & Film) label. It features music from producer-songwriters, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and guest appearances by Mark Kibble/Take 6, and Gerald Albright. The lead single from this release, "Sunday Vibes" featuring Tim Bowman on guitar, was released on May 20 and quickly became the #1 most played song on Watercolors (Sirius XM). The CD debuted its first week on the Billboard and top sellers charts in three categories: Jazz, Gospel and Southern Gospel, a first for Tankard in that genre.

In September 2012, Ben Tankard/ Full Tank was nominated by the Soul Train Music Awards for Best Contemporary Jazz Artist and the Stellar Awards for Best Urban Contemporary Performance.[7]

In October 2012, Ben Tankard/Full Tank appeared on the Grammy Award ballot for six Grammy Awards. They included: Pop Instrumental Album, Improvised Jazz Solo, Instrumental Composition, Instrumental Arrangement, and Instrumental Arrangement for vocal and Engineered Album.

This was also a first for Tankard and a major accomplishment for his independent record label to have so many appearances on the Grammy ballot at one time. On March 1, 2013, Ben's new single (title cut) "Full Tank" hit the top five Smoothjazz charts and Billboard harts. He was also nominated for a "BlueMic" award and won it for Best Instrumental Artist on July 12, 2013 at the Gospel BlueMic Awards in Chesapeake, Virginia.

On November 5, 2013 Tankard released an instrumental jazz single called "Thicker Than Water (the church picnic)" from his forthcoming new CD Full Tank 2.0 . The song rode the and Billboard contemporary jazz charts November 2013-March 2014.

On February 10, 2015 Tankard's smooth instrumental CD, Full Tank 2.0 was released and entered the international sales chart at #1 Amazon Bestseller in 3 categories: smoothjazz, fusion jazz and gospel. His single "Rainy Sunday" was the lead single followed by "Right Turn Ahead" which has been in the top five slot on Billboard Magazine's Smooth Jazz Songs Chart for several months. Special guests appearing on the CD include: Kirk Whalum, Shirley Murdock, and Paul Jackson, Jr.. and has made the ballot for a 2016 NAACP Image Award.

On April 3, 2013, Bravo cable network announced that Ben Tankard and family had been cast for Thicker Than Water, a new reality show that showcases Tankard's family life, music career, business ventures, passion for aviation, and his role as a motivational speaker with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and his true passion: ministry. When asked about he reality show, Tankard responded: "With a wonderful blended family this big, there is sure to be much excitement going on all the time at the Tankard Palace. I call it a comedic cross between Bill Cosby and the Brady Bunch with a twist.... Watch what happens." The International Black Film Festival presented a screening of the first episode "Family Ties" to a standing room only crowd on November 2, 2013 at Nashville's Country Music Hall Of Fame. The show's first season premiered on November 10, 2013 with over 1.5 million viewers and the finale episode aired on January 5, 2014 with over 2.2 million viewers making it Bravo/NBC Universal's highest rated freshmen reality show. Season two premiered on Sunday, January 4, 2015 and the ratings success has made Thicker Than Water the top family reality show on television centered around an African American family.

In early 2016 Tankard embarked on his Full Tank Music Tour with over one hundred cities booked. On June 24, 2015 Tankard signed a major book deal with FaithWords, the Nashville imprint publisher with Hachette Book Group, the third largest book publisher in the world. Other authors that are published by Hachette / FaithWords include Joel Osteen, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Joyce Meyer. His motivational self-help book entitled The Full Tank Life was released August 30, 2016. Posted in their December issue, It is listed in Essence Magazine's Top Ten bestsellers as the top inspirational book of 2016.

On Sept. 29, 2015 Ben Tankard entered an exclusive endorsement agreement with designer clothier Robert Graham.

On February 20, 2016 Tankard won the gospel Stellar Awards for his CD: Full Tank 2.0. The live show was taped in Las Vegas. The gospel Stellar Award is considered the highest honor in Gospel Music and having won this award fourteen times makes Tankard the most awarded Gospel Instrumentalist of all-time. Full Tank 2.0 was also nominated for 2016 Dove Award for Best Instrumental CD. The massive radio and sales success of Tankard's Full Tank and Full Tank 2.0 CD releases along with the growing popularity of his reality TV show makes him a top draw for large U.S. Jazz Festivals including Seabreeze Jazzfest, Catalina Island Jazzfest, and Steel City Birmingham Jazzfest which boast more than 20,000 attendees at these outdoor events.

Often referred to as a Renaissance Man, Tankard has worn many hats from sports to music, ministry and business. The multi-streamer says in his motivational speeches: " Every successful man needs a great wife and cast of motivators. I have been most influenced athletically by Magic Johnson, influenced musically by Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder, influenced spiritually by Joel Osteen, influenced in aviation by Tuskegee Airmen, and influenced creatively and economically by Steve Harvey, Oprah Winfrey, and Tyler Perry. Mentorship is a direct path to success and everyone needs a coach."



External links


  1. Mercy Mercy Mercy: The Ben Tankard Story. Ben-Jamin' Publishing. 2010. p. 40.
  2. DAVIS, Doug (May 18, 2007). "Meet 'The Godfather of Gospel Jazz'". The Daily News Journal. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  3. "25th Annual Stellar Award Results (2010)". 25th Annual Stellar Award Results (2010).
  4. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy - Ben Tankard". Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  5. "Verity Gospel Music Group Releases New Music from Ben Tankard". Verity Gospel Music Group Releases New Music from Ben Tankard.
  6. Widran, Jonathan. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy". Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  7. "VOTE// Soul Train Awards 2012 Viewers Choice Awards".
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