Raised in a musical family, Harper picked up the guitar at an early age and began performing publicly at 12. Shortly after appearing alongside Taj Mahal at a concert in 1992, Harper signed with Virgin Records. His first album, Welcome to the Cruel World, introduced him as a folk-rocker with a soft, evocative voice and politically charged lyrics. Fight for Your Mind (1995) features Harper’s precocious capabilities on the Weissenborn (a hollow-necked lap-steel guitar), while The Will to Live (Number 89, 1997) and Burn to Shine (Number 67, 1999), by he and his band the Innocent Criminals, highlight his move toward a more electric, amplified sound. The latter included the funky “Steal My Kisses,” which reached Number 15 on the Adult Top 40 chart and led to his opening for the Dave Matthews Band in 2000. Harper released the double-disc Live From Mars in 2001, and toured extensively before releasing his next album of new material, the worldbeat-heavy Diamonds on the Inside (Number 19, 2003). The following year, he collaborated with the Blind Boys of Alabama on an album that reached Number One on Billboard’s gospel chart and took a Grammy for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album. In 2007 he released another live album as well as Lifeline (Number Nine), which he recorded in Paris in a single week on a 16-track analog tape machine. Ben continues to actively tour and record.