A CHANGE HAS COME
Clarence Milton Bekker ever so known as CB Milton has a different path. In 2011, he completely changed his musical style, shifted his professional focus and adopted a completely new audience. A lot has happened and a lot has changed in Clarence’s life in the past few years. One thing that has not changed, however, is his unique voice and his unparalleled musical talent and energy.
The boy has become a mature man. Clarence Milton Bekker is a man with a story. His life is a story of dramatic ups and downs, a story of falling and getting back up. Sometimes, it was literally luck that kept him alive. Clarence’s life has been a long, hard journey, from the Netherlands, via Spain, to the USA; and from CB Milton, a talented singer on a pathway to disaster, via life on the street and Playing for Change, to Clarence Milton Bekker.
Clarence’s great love for music has never abandoned him. His voice, his talent and his music brought him to where he is today. Music has always given him the strength to survive. Clarence immerses you in his music, pulls you into his story. He makes you feel the depth of his emotions and energy. When he sings, you feel and hear that this man has been through a lot. We call that Soul!
Clarence Milton Bekker was born on 11 April 1969 in Suriname and moved to the Netherlands with his family at age six. At that young age, he already displayed a deep love of music and he soon began participating in talent shows. In 1985, his performance of the song Do What You Do by Jermaine Jackson won him third place in the qualification round of the Soundmixshow. Clarence was disappointed, but singing was in his blood and giving up has never been an option for Clarence… Two years later, in 1987, Clarence joined The Swinging Soul Machine, as the youngest singer ever to sing with the band. The Swinging Soul Machine often accompanied The Trammps and it was their bassist who introduced Clarence to the Belgian production duo Phil Wilde and Peter Bauwens. That introduction would later have an enormous impact on Clarence’s singing career. In 1990, Clarence left The Swinging Soul Machine to focus on a solo career. Soon after Clarence launched his solo career, Jean Paul de Coster, the spiritual father of 2Unlimited, saw him perform and was deeply impressed by his talent. De Coster decided to team up with Phil Wilde and Peter Bauwens to develop Clarence’s career and the hit artist CB Milton was born. In 1993, CB Milton released his debut single Send Me An Angel. The single appeared almost immediately in the Benelux charts and soon after in the global charts. The song was an instant hit and rocketed to 10th place in the Dutch Top 40. The other four singles released from CB’s debut album It’s My Loving Thing all appeared in the Dutch Hitparade or Tipparade. The single It’s A Loving Thing climbed to the top 3 in the Belgian charts and also became a minor hit in England. In 1996, CB released his second album: The Way to Wonderland. Unfortunately, this album was not the commercial success his first album had been. CB’s third album, From Her to There, and the singles released from that album went virtually unnoticed. In 1999, Milton was nominated for a TMF Award for best Dutch singer, but the award ultimately went to Marco Borsato. Around that time, CB gradually began to withdraw from the spotlights, although he did perform the vocals on Mark van Dale’s single Something goin ‘on. That single would be CB’s last hit in the Dutch Top 40.
CB Milton Send Me An Angle
In late 2001, Clarence decides to take a timeout. The death of his mother and the endless string of gigs have taken their toll on CB Milton. He goes on a sabbatical, traveling the world to process the loss of his mother, to recharge and find adventure. For Clarence Milton Bekker is an adventurer and a free spirit. He returns to the Netherlands a year later, not entirely unscathed. Suffering from a tropical disease, Milton is given medication and told that he needs to go into quarantine for six weeks. But surrounded by the temptations of Amsterdam, Milton leaves quarantine after just two weeks. Quarantine is just not for him. He wants adventure and his quest for adventure leads him down the dark path of drug addiction. Despite the openness, help and support of his family and friends, Clarence is unable to win the hard struggle against addiction. Instead, he retreats from the people around him, as well as gradually destroying CB Milton. At a certain point, Milton trades in a planned stay in a treatment clinic for a one-way ticket to Barcelona, leaving everything but his guitar behind. Ultimately, it was his guitar and his music that saved him. But not before he was able to take full advantage of the guilty pleasures of Barcelona, pleasures that caused Clarence to descend even deeper into the abyss. CB Milton’s bookings declined to a trickle.
Clarence was saved by his love for music. In Barcelona, Clarence became a roving street musician, Playing for Change to support himself and finance his addiction. Despite the darkness of that addiction, Clarence was still able to enjoy the smiles and pleasure of the people who listened to him on the streets and squares of Barcelona. He was still able to take them to another world, to let them into his soul and to share his energy and his passion for music. And the sound of his unique voice echoing through the streets of Barcelona did not go unnoticed…
And there was still some sunlight in Clarence’s world. He met scores of people from the music world during his life on the streets of Barcelona. In 2007, for instance, he toured Spain and numerous other European countries with 08001, a multicultural group consisting of 40 musicians. In 2008, Clarence and DJ Taito Tikaro released three dance tracks. The second track, Shine on Me, with lyrics and vocals by Clarence, was an immediate world hit and received the 2009 Best Dance Track of the Year Award.
Tikaro, J.Louis&Ferran feat. Clarence – Shine On Me
The sunlight in Clarence’s world was about to get a whole lot brighter. Mark Johnson and Enzo Buono from Los Angeles were scouring the world for unique musical talent. The goal, according to Mark Johnson, was: “to inspire, connect and bring peace to the world through music”. Johnson, equipped with mobile recording equipment, visited cities around the world, in the USA, South Africa, India, Spain.. Barcelona! Of course, there was no way Johnson was going home without a recording of Clarence Bekker’s unique voice…
“I just sang a track for some kind of documentary or something”, Clarence tells his manager back in the Netherlands. That “some kind of documentary or something” has grown into a global project: Playing for Change. The track Clarence made that day, Stand By Me, and the accompanying clip, have generated more than 38 million hits on YouTube.
In 2009, Playing for Change released its first album, which rocketed to the top 10 in the American Billboard 200. The band’s world tour, with Clarence Milton Bekker as its frontman, was a huge success. Playing for Change thrilled audiences around the world, in Canada, the US and Europe. Clarence shared the stage during the tour with legends like Toots Hibbert and Ziggy Marley. The band played the Glastonbury Festival in England with greats like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Status Quo and Tom Jones. The band also breaks through on American TV and radio, with the Tonight Show as just one of the high points. A new world was opening its arms to a new man, Clarence Milton Bekker.
Not only was Clarence winning the hearts of a new American audience on stage and in radio and television shows, his unique voice was also making waves in the American music industry. Norman Lear, owner of Concord Music Group, and John Burk, director of A&R at Concord Music, were so impressed by his extraordinary musical talent that they offered him a record contract. Their faith in Clarence Milton Bekker lead Lear and Burk to approach the industry’s top songwriters and producers to work on Clarence’s album. Ultimately, songwriter and producer Reggie McBride was contracted to produce the album along with Playing For Change founder, Mark Johnson. McBride has worked with Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Rod Stewart and countless other great musicians. The album was recorded in early 2011 in Los Angeles and the global release is planned for early 2012.
CB Milton, the falling star of the Nineties, is no more… That was a phase, like life on the streets of Barcelona. Clarence has seen the darkest depths of life in the past ten years, but the brilliant light of his enormous passion for music kept him alive. That same light has swept Clarence into many of the world’s most prestigious venues. Clarence has won the hearts of audiences in the US and around the world with his love for music, his unique voice and the integrity and depth of his interpretation. The faith that the people around him have shown in him and his experiences with Playing for Change and Concord Music made Clarence start believing in himself again. In 2010, he was finally able to completely kick his habit. The streets of Barcelona are now quiet, but the rest of world will be hearing a lot from Clarence Milton Bekker!
Clarence Milton Bekker, a man with a story, a man with incredible energy, a man with a unique voice and depth of soul: SOUL MUSIC
LET’S TELL IT TO THE WORLD!