Ben Johnston is a singer/songwriter who draws on a wealth of deep and varied life experiences to craft songs that connect deeply with his audience. Inherent in his down to earth, folk-based sound is a sense of genuine honesty and simple truths without any guise or pretense.
Ben’s musical life began at an early age when he begged his parents for piano lessons. Later came the trumpet, and at the age of 13 his first guitar and debut into songwriting. Through his teen years he continued to play and write on both guitar and piano and dreamed of becoming a professional musician after high school, but a series of events and decisions led Ben down a different road.
For the first decade of his adult life, Ben daily donned an Army uniform. In 2006 he graduated from the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. He then spent five years on active duty, including two year-long combat deployments to Iraq. Following his return to the U.S. in 2011 Ben left the Army and moved with his new bride to the Boston area to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a professional songwriter.
At Berklee, Ben combined the personal discipline developed in the Army with the opportunity to explore his creativity by launching himself headfirst into the Songwriting major. After a couple of years, the fruit of his hard work began to become apparent; first winning the country category of the 2013 for his song “Diamond Rings” (Johnston/Witt). He was also selected to represent the Songwriting Department in their bi-annual Singer Songwriter Circle concert in December 2013 and was also selected by the Songwriting faculty to receive the Tom Snow award. Most recently his song “I Don’t Have a Song for That” (Johnston/Lucero) was chosen to be arranged and filmed by Berklee for release April 15, 2014 in tribute to the Boston Marathon bombings and in conjunction with a feature article on Berklee.edu.
Exploring the intersection of creativity and music outside of Berklee is also very important to Ben. As a veteran with firsthand experience with post-traumatic stress, he feels strongly about integrating his past experiences into his current music. Many of his deepest songs contain strong reference to issues many post-deployment Vets are facing. Very recently Ben was asked to be an integral part of a new program being partnered between Berklee and the city of Newton, offering free guitar lessons to veterans, based on the past work of Kim Perlak , assistant chair, guitar department.
When Ben is not at Berklee, he can be found gigging at local south shore restaurants and the Braintree farmer’s market in the summer, playing with his 20-month old son, or exercising his creative mind through woodworking or warm glass artistry for the small-business that he started (www.benswares.com).