Ben Tankard

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Ben Tankard
BT at Jazzfest.jpeg
Background information
Born (1964-01-10) January 10, 1964 (age 55)
Daytona Beach, Florida
GenresContemporary gospel, smooth jazz
InstrumentsKeyboards, Tuba, Drums, Guitar
Years active1990s–present
LabelsTribute Sony Music Verity Records
Associated actsGerald Albright, Take 6, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Whalum, Wayman Tisdale

Ben Tankard (born January 10, 1964) is an American gospel/smoothjazz musician, producer, reality-tv Dad, author and motivational speaker from Daytona Beach, Florida. His instruments include the synthesizer, piano, tuba, drums, guitar, and percussion. Often referred to as the "Godfather of Gospel/Jazz", his instrumental music has bridged the gap between two genres and charted at #1 Billboard Smooth Jazz and Gospel Charts. Standing 6'6" tall, he is a former professional basketball player (shooting guard).


Ben and Jewel Tankard receiving Stellar Award

Tankard's father was a minister and his mother a missionary. In church, he played drums at an early age. He played tuba in school and received a basketball scholarship. Although he was selected in the NBA draft, he hurt his knee before the season started. During a period of homelessness, he went to church and was inspired by a revival service to turn his life around. He began playing keyboards and spent several years working as a dogcatcher to make ends meet. He was hired by a music store as a keyboard demonstrator where he learned about arranging and record production. Tankard developed a small home studio and released his first album, "All Keyed Up" on Atlanta International Records in 1989 winning a gospel Stellar Award for new artist of the year. He followed with Keynote Speaker (Tribute, 1990). He has worked with Gerald Albright, Twinkie Clark, Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, Shirley Murdock, Kelly Price, and Take 6.[1]

Tankard discovered a third-grade school teacher named Yolanda Adams and signed her to his indy Tribute label. He produced her albums Through the Storm, Save the World, More Than A Melody, and Yolanda... Live in Washington. They collaborated on over 40 compositions. He credits her voice for helping to bring his production style and keyboard playing to a large audience.[2][3]

Performances and charity work[edit]

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 became the No. 1 most played song on Watercolors (Sirius XM). The album 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. Ben Tankard/Rise!, was released on September 28, 2018. It features music from William Murphy, Drake, and Herb Alpert. The lead single and title track is a remake of Albert's 1979 multi-million selling instrumental hit Rise (Herb Alpert album). This release, Tankard's twentieth, entered the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart at #9, Jazz Chart #12 and Gospel Chart #11, as well as Amazon jazz bestsellers list #2.

He makes over 100 special appearances and concerts every year, including jazz festivals, gospel, and corporate events. A licensed pilot, he flies to most of his concerts on his fleet of airplanes. He participates in the Urban Eagles charity which talks to children about careers in aviation. He is a longstanding member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Cessna Pilots Association.

Since 2012 Tankard has worked with the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a musician and speaker. He provides support for the New York-based NBA office of player development. His role allows him to share his stories and encourage players to find a life outside basketball. In his motivational sessions with young players, he often plays a smooth-jazz mini-concert from the piano as the players write their goals and plans.

In 2002, Tankard and his wife started the Destiny Center Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which is also the national headquarters for the record label, Tribute/Ben-Jamin'. His motivational self-help book entitled The Full Tank Life was released on August 30, 2016. It became a national bestseller and was named Essence Magazine Inspirational Book Of The Year for 2016. Since 2013, Tankard and his family have starred in the reality television series Thicker Than Water for the Bravo network.

Awards and honors[edit]

He has earned 15 Gold and 6 Platinum records in his twenty-five years in the music business.

He and Shirley Murdock received Gold records for their WOW Gospel 2006 collaboration which climbed to No. 1 on the Gospel chart and No. 20 on the Billboard Top 200. It was certified Gold for more sales of over 500,000 units. 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. His album Full Tank 3: CanTANKerous (2017) reached No. 1 on the Smooth Jazz Amazon Bestseller list and entered the Billboard Gospel chart at No. 15 and the Billboard Jazz chart at No. 18. He has been a BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) writer for over 25 years.

He has received Grammy nominations, Dove Award nominations, and many Stellar Awards, including Best Instrumental Album in 2010 for Mercy, Mercy, Mercy[4] Although many of Tankard's albums have received airplay on gospel and smooth jazz stations, The Weather Channel, XM Satellite Radio and Music Choice, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy was the first album in the history of Billboard magazine to appear on the gospel, contemporary jazz, and jazz chart simultaneously.[5]

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.

On July 16, 2011 Tankard was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Musical Excellence by the Atlanta Gospel-fest.

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.[6]

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 February 20, 2016, Tankard won the gospel Stellar Awards for his CD: Full Tank 2.0. The gospel Stellar Award is considered the highest honor in Gospel Music and winning this award fifteen 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.

On March 24, 2018, he was inducted into gospel music Honors Hall of Fame by The Stellar Awards. On April 28, 2018, he was named honorary Tuskegee Airman.

On February 12, 2019 Rise! was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. Within a week, the single "Rise!" climbed to #1 on Billboard Magazine's SmoothJazz Songs Airplay chart. On August 20, 2019 "Rise" was nominated for a Gospel Music Association Dove Award as "Best Instrumental Recording" and named as a performer and presenter for the Dove Awards festivities October 15, 2019.

On December 3, 2019 Tankard was named as a finalist for SmoothJazz Network's Breakout Artist of 2019.


  • All Keyed Up (1990)[7]
  • Keynote Speaker (1990)[8]
  • Keys to Life (1991)[9][10]
  • An Instrumental Christmas (1991)[11][12]
  • Sunday Drivin (1993)[13]
  • Play Me in Your Key (1994)[14]
  • Instrumentally Yours (1996)[15][16]
  • Git Yo Prayze On w/Tribe of Benjamin (1997)[17]
  • Raize Da Praise by Tribe of Benjamin (1999)[18]
  • The Minstrel (1999)[19]
  • Christmas Love (2000)[20]
  • Song of Solomon (2001)[21]
  • Play a Lil' Song for Me (2003)[22]
  • Piano Prophet (2004)[23][24]
  • Let's Get Quiet: The Smooth Jazz Experience (2007)[25]
  • Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (2009)[26]
  • Full Tank (2012)[27]
  • Thicker Than Water-The Church Picnic (2013)
  • Full Tank 2 (2015)[28]
  • Full Tank 3: CanTANKerous (2017)[29][30]
  • Rise! (2018[31]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Bush, John. "Ben Tankard". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  2. ^ Mercy Mercy Mercy: The Ben Tankard Story. Ben-Jamin' Publishing. 2010. p. 40.
  3. ^ Davis, Doug (May 18, 2007). "Meet 'The Godfather of Gospel Jazz'". The Daily News Journal. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  4. ^ "25th Annual Stellar Award Results (2010)". 25th Annual Stellar Award Results (2010).
  5. ^ "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy". Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  6. ^ "Soul Train Awards 2012 Viewers Choice Awards". Archived from the original on 2012-10-23.
  7. ^ Tankard, Ben. "All Keyed Up" (Cassette). Atlanta International. 22 May 1990.
  8. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Keynote Speaker". Verity. 1990.
  9. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Keys to Life". Verity. 1991.
  10. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Keys to Life" (album notes). Tribute. 1991.
  11. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Christmas". Light Records. 31 October 1991.
  12. ^ Tankard, Ben. "An Instrumental Christmas" (album notes). Tribute. 1991.
  13. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Sunday Drive". Verity. 18 September 1993.
  14. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Play Me in Your Key". Tribute. 12 October 1994.
  15. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Instrumentally Yours". AllMusic. 1 April 1996.
  16. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Instrumentally Yours" (album notes). Verity / Zomba. 1996.
  17. ^ Ben Tankard & Tribe of Benjamin. "Git Yo' Prayze On". Verity. 12 August 1997.
  18. ^ Tribe of Benjamin. "Raise Da Prayze". Word / Epic. 19 October 1999.
  19. ^ Tankard, Ben. "The Minstrel". Verity. 13 July 1999.
  20. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Christmas Love". AllMusic. 26 September 2000.
  21. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Song of Solomon". Verity. 10 July 2001.
  22. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Play a Lil' Song for Me". Verity. 18 February 2003.
  23. ^ Tankard, Ben. "piano Prophet". Verity / Zomba. 22 June 2004.
  24. ^ Tankard, Ben. "piano Prophet" (album Notes). Verity. 2004.
  25. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Let's Get Quiet: The Smooth Jazz Experience". AllMusic. 27 March 2007.
  26. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy". Verity / Zomba. 2009.
  27. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Full Tank". Ben Jammin'. 5 June 2012.
  28. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Full Tank 2". Ben Jammin'.
  29. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Full Tank 3: CanTankerous". Ben-Jammin. 12 May 2017.
  30. ^ Tankard, Ben. "Full Tank 3: Cantankerous". Ben-Jammin' / Universal Music. 12 May 2017
  31. ^ Tankard, Ben. "RISE!". Ben-Jammin. 28 Sept 2018.