Ben Tankard (born January 24, 1964) is a former professional basketball player and an American gospel, jazz keyboardist producer, songwriter and author. Ben dropped out of college after one year to play minor league pro basketball in Canada (he also co-owned The Murfreesboro Musicians -a pro team in the World Basketball Association / WBA). He was invited to an NBA camp but was injured and cut. Ben "rebounded" from his basketball injury to become a bestselling popular musician known as the pioneer and Godfather of GospelJazz music. He is also a guest motivational speaker for the NBA's D-League, Suit designer (Big & Tall), Pastor, Record Label President, Aircraft Pilot/Owner, and Reality TV Actor with his own new show onBravo - "Thicker Than Water : The Tankards", which premiers November 10, 2013. On August 21, 2013 Tankard was nominated for three Gospel Music Dove Awards. This marks first time in Dove Award history that an Instrumentalist has been nominated for this many categories. These nominations were for Tankard's most recent CD release 'Full Tank" and the categories included : Contemporary Gospel/Urban Song of the Year, Contemporary Gospel/Urban Album of the Year, and Instrumental Album of the Year.
Often referred to as the " Quincy Jones of Gospel ", Ben Tankard discovered Yolanda Adams, signed her to his independent record label, Tribute Records (Ben-Jamin' Universal Music) and produced several of her earlier works. Tankard has also recorded a series of well received instrumental solo albums and soundtracks, with music styles ranging from pop to R&B to smooth jazz. Tankard was the first artist to dedicate complete instrumental albums to a mixture of gospel and jazz, thus the term "GospelJazz".
Since he came on the scene in 1990 Ben's musical accomplishments have earned him a total of three Grammy nominations, eleven Dove Awardnominations, and twelve Stellar Awards including 2010's "Best Instrumental Album" for his Mercy, Mercy, Mercy CD. This high charting release featured an instrumental remake of the Chris Tomlin Christian hit song, "How Great Is Our God". Though many of Tankard's releases have received heavy rotation on gospel and smooth jazz stations, The Weather Channel, XM Satellite Radio and cable TV's Music Choice, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy was the first CD in the history of Billboard Magazine to chart on the gospel, contemporary jazz, and jazz chart all at the same time.
With his ability to assemble stellar talent for his recordings, Tankard has been also been called the "Quincy Jones of Gospel", and is the bestselling gospeljazz instrumentalist in the world with 16 solo albums to his credit. In additional to his extensive work with Yolanda Adams, Tankard has produced and collaborated with several other Grammy Award winning, gold and platinum artists including, Take 6, Fred Hammond, Kelly Price, John P. Kee, Shirley Murdock, Twinkie Clark and Gerald Albright. He has earned 15 Gold and 6 Platinum records in his two decades in the music business.
Now, based in Murfreesboro, TN (near Nashville), Tankard is an avid aviator and instrument rated pilot. He flies to most of his concerts on his own fleet of airplanes. His favorite aircraft is the Pilatus PC-12. Ben flies the following planes: Cessna Businessliner- 401A / N401BT and Cessna Skyrocket 337C / N2469S. He also has FAA registration N number reserved for the Pilatus PC12: N192PC. He makes over 100 special appearances and concerts each year including, Jazz Festivals, Gospel Explosions, and corporations. He shares the joy of flight with young children through his Urban Eagles outreach program. Since 2012 he has worked with the NBA on special projects as a musician and speaker. He provides support for the NY based NBA League office player development division and his role allows him to share his success stories and show the players " how to have a life outside of basketball". In his motivational sessions with the younger D-League players, Ben often plays a smoothjazz mini-concert from the piano as the players write out their goals and plans.
Tankard married Jewel LaGreen on January 27, 2000. They have a blended family five children (Marcus, Brooklyn, Britney, Benji, and Cyrene), two daughter-in-laws (Latisha and Shanira) and one grandchild (Diamond). Having both been survivors of divorce, the Tankards often speak on TV and at national conferences on marriage and the blended family. In 2002, The Tankard's launched Destiny Center Church in Murfreesboro, TN which is also the national headquarters for Tribute Records/Ben-Jamin'. Destiny Center is one of the fastest growing churches in the Mid-State.
On July 16, 2011 Tankard was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Musical Excellence as an artist, producer, and songwriter by The Atlanta Gospel-fest. Ben Tankard is also a noted speaker and has spoke at major venues and events for the National Basketball Association, Joel Osteen, andBishop T.D. Jakes amongst others.
Tankard's eighteenth studio album, the highly anticipated " Ben Tankard / Full Tank " was released on June 5, 2012 on his revamped Tribute Records(Ben-Jamin' Universal Music & Film) label. It features music from legendary producer-songwriters, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and special guest appearances by Mark Kibble / Take 6, & Gerald Albright. The lead single from this release, " Sunday Vibes " featuring Tim Bowman on guitar, was released on May 20 and quickly became the #1 most played song on Watercolors (Sirius XM). The CD debuted its first week on the Billboard and Amazon.com top sellers charts in three categories: Jazz, Gospel and Southern Gospel, a first for Tankard in that genre.
In September of 2012, Ben Tankard / Full Tank was nominated by the Soul Train Music Awards for Best Contemporary Jazz Artist and the Stellar Awards for Best Urban Contemporary Performance.
In October of 2012, Ben Tankard / Full Tank appeared on the Grammy Award ballot for Six (6) Grammy Awards. They included: Pop Instrumental Album, Improvised Jazz Solo, Instrumental Composition, Instrumental Arrangement, and Instrumental Arrangement for vocal and Engineered Album.
This was also a "first" for Tankard and a major accomplishment for his independent record label to have so many appearances on the Grammy ballot at once time. On March 1, 2013, Ben's new single (title cut) " Full Tank " hit the top five Smoothjazz charts and Billboard harts. He was also nominated for a " BlueMic " award and won it for Best Instrumental Artist on July 12, 2013 at the Gospel BlueMic Awards in Chesapeake,VA.
On April 3, 2013 Bravo cable network announced that Ben Tankard and family had been cast for " Thicker Than Water ", a new reality show that showcases Tankard's family life, music career, business ventures, passion for aviation, and his role as a motivational speaker with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and his true passion : ministry. When asked how will the reality show will look, Ben responds: " With a wonderful blended family this big, there is sure to be much excitement going on all the time at the Tankard Palace. I would say this show is a comedic cross between Bill Cosby and the Brady Bunch with a twist......Watch What Happens ". The show premiers November 10, 2013.