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The classically trained pop cellist recognized his community and relationships in every facet of Inclusions.
Collaborating with local visual artist Phillip March Jones, the album art for Inclusions brings a visual reference to the allegory of the album.
Saturated with sweeping moods and visceral maturity, Learning to Bend showcased a wild mixture of musical approaches that Ben describes as "classically influenced folk with leanings of R&B and soul." The album caught the ear of NPR's Morning Edition, which heralded Sollee as one of the "Top Ten Great Unknown Artists of 2007." While people were getting their first listen of Learning to Bend, Ben was out touring with banjo player and songstress Abigail Washburn as part of the Sparrow Quartet.
The ensemble, also featuring Grammy-nominated fiddler Casey Driessen and multi-Grammy winning banjoist Bela Fleck, explored the congregation of eastern and western folk music.
The album explored Ben's desire to use musical encounters as a catalyst to inspire environmental stewardship.
Additionally, Ben works with regional non-profits like Appalachian Voices and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth to help preserve a cornerstone and major influence of his songwriting – his ancestral Appalachia.
"I love it for all of its meanings, explicit and incidental.
Listeners are also treated to the voice of Cheyenne Marie Mize, who threads soaring harmonies throughout, as well as songwriting for "I Need." "I love this record," Ben admits.This past summer, Ben teamed with his Dear Companion collaborators for the Appalachian Voices tour – an eight-date tour to raise awareness about the destruction caused by mountain top removal coal mining in central Appalachia."I never expect to see that cello in one piece after Ben gets done playing it," says Yim Yames.Beyond bridging genres and demographics with earnest, dynamic songwriting and passionate performances, Ben Sollee seeks to intertwine his music with art and life.The theme of Inclusions is large, humanistic and universal – how relationships influence us all whether intentional or not.