BENISE-EN FUEGO! Kicks Off Fitz's Jazz at The McCallum Series, Today

BENISE-EN FUEGO! Kicks Off Fitz's Jazz at The McCallum Series, Today

Armed with his Spanish guitar and an amazing world-class band of musicians, Benise - En Fuego! will kick off the Fitz's Jazz Cafe Series at The McCallum Theatre on Friday, November 2 at 8:00 pm.

Benise is also the creative force behind the Emmy Award Winning electrifying multi-cultural World Music and Dance Productions, "The Spanish Guitar" and "Nights of Fire!" In 2010, Benise performed on the #1 rated show in the United States, "Dancing with the Stars" and toured the US covering 40 major markets. Airing nationally on PBS in 2007, "Nights of Fire!" was an unprecedented and spectacular journey of music and dance through Spanish Flamenco, Cuban Salsa, African Rhythms, Argentinean Tango, and Brazilian Samba. Backed by a stage full of musicians, an orchestra, and 12 elaborately choreographed dancers, "Nights of Fire!" captured world music at its best.

"The Spanish Guitar" is Benise's second PBS special, filmed over 3 years and across 10 countries. It's an epic tale that integrates live performance with footage of Benise in his voyage around the globe - the cobblestone streets of old Havana, an Arabian desert, the romantic canals of Venice, the oldest bullring in Spain, a quaint Paris café, and the sacred temples of India. Benise's "The Spanish Guitar" takes us to worlds both faraway and deeply personal, and reminds us that hope can be the healing thread in all of our lives.

Just as his fiery melodies and high-energy rhythms weave a stunning tapestry of emotions, Benise has always charted his own distinctive path. Since receiving his first guitar at the age of eleven, he practiced relentlessly, completely self- taught, mastering a variety of different styles that would become his unique sound. He began composing original works with powerfully emotional arrangements that are both wild and refined, producing a sound that is as edgy and exotic as it is romantic and sensual. "I'm always inspired by places I've traveled," saysBenise, "so I'll try to capture the essence and beauty of the different places in my melodies. It's truly like painting on air, creating colors and lush soundscapes that take people (and me) away to a safe place with no prejudice and no boundaries."

Leaving his family and friends to move 1,500 hundred miles away from home to Los Angeles with nothing more than his guitar, Benise held in his heart the encouragement from his parents to "work hard and have faith." After being turned down by almost every club in Los Angeles, Benise started performing on the streets. It was not uncommon for Benise to put on over 250 shows a year, sometimes playing 2 to 3 events in a single day.

Tourists from around the world and native Angelinos alike took to Benise like the "Pied Piper" of Spanish guitar. From there, the path of his music took on a life of its own, effortlessly opening doors along the way to attract musicians, dancers and cirque performers, eventually creating the extended family that is now known simply as his namesake, "Benise."

Benise redefined the ordinary and started to promote his own concerts, selling out theaters throughout Southern California. Exceeding expectations, the shows became inspiring experiences that celebrate "Love, Music, and Life!" A natural performer, Benise held audiences captive with exotic drums, Gypsy violin, Flamenco dancers, Cirque performers, Brazilian Samba dancers, Brazilian Samba percussionists, African tribal drummers, Havana horns, and brilliant theatrical lighting that work together to create an unforgettable experience.

PBS aired the show "Nights of Fire" nationally and the response was overwhelming. The Emmy Award followed as the soundtrack went to #2 on the Billboard World Music Charts, and suddenly the "street performer" had fans across the world as the globe, and the world as his stage.

"When I was younger, I felt the guitar calling to me, challenging me, to play what's in my heart, to express my feelings in melodies and notes and to make the guitar an extension of my soul. The more I immerse myself into playing and composing, the more I understand that I have so far and so much more to learn."

In addition to organizing stunning live shows, Benise took his career by the reins by producing, arranging and releasing eight albums on his own independent record label, Rosanegra Music, plus three DVDs on Rosanegra Films. The recordings capture the expressive Spanish guitar arrangements that stem from influences around the world, carrying listeners to such culturally rich destinations as Spain, Africa, Brazil, the Mediterranean, Cuba, France and Egypt. "It's almost like writing a soundtrack to a movie," notes Benise, "but a lot of my songs tell a story so they're perfect for the stage."

"This is a great show for the whole family; I really think we have something for everyone," comments Benise. "I hope that people will be inspired--by our story, the music, the production--and have the passion to follow their own dreams."

This performance of Benise – En Fuego!, as part of the Fitz's Jazz Café series at the McCallum Theatre. Tickets are $75, $45, $35 and $25 and are available online at or by calling the McCallum Theatre Box Office at (760) 340-2787

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David Green David Green is the Executive Director of The American Foundation For Arts Education, founded by Carol Channing and her late husband, Harry Kullijian -- working to restore the Arts to our nation?s public schools and provide an arts education to every child in America. He is the founder and President of the nationally acclaimed "Musical Theatre University", a training ground for talented young people with aspirations for careers in theatre, most specifically musical theatre. Mr. Green's Broadway alumni include Tony -nominees Matthew Morrison and Stephanie Block, Drama Desk nominee Lindsay Mendez, Krysta Rodriguez, Scott Barnhardt and Anneliese VanDerPol to name a few. As a producer and director, he has staged over 150 theatrical productions for both educational and professional theatre and with such stars as Carol Channing, Cathy Rigby, JoAnne Worley, Rex Smith, Jonelle Allen, Eric Kunze, Davis Gaines, Stephanie Zimbalist, John Raitt, Betty Garrett and more. Mr. Green is the Regional Editor and Reviewer for the Inland Empire of Southern California.