Culture

Grammy-Nominated Artist Says More Celebrities Should Speak Out on Politics: 'Your Voice is Powerful'

Grammy nominated artist Eric Benet (Photo: Nicholas Ballasy)

Grammy Award-nominated musician Eric Benet said artists shouldn’t “shut up and sing” but “speak out” about political issues.

Benet was asked if he thinks more hip-hop artists might follow Kanye West’s lead and move toward gospel music.

“I just want to see more artists being authentic, you know. I’d like to see more artists realizing the power in their voice and when we live in such a dysfunctional and unhealthy world, both politically and socially, I would just like to see more artists, whether it’s gospel, whether it’s social consciousness, whether it’s the carbon footprint or whatever it is, just like speak out on it. And if, politically, our leaders don’t align with those very important issues, talk about how they just need to be, like, deleted,” Benet said during an interview at the Urban One Honors, which airs January 20 on TV One.

Benet was asked about Grammy winner John Legend saying he refuses to “shut up and sing,” vowing to continue to be outspoken about politics.

“I get those comments, too, on Twitter. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of my Twitter but I don’t bite my tongue, politically and socially. I’m very opinionated and I voice those opinions and people have a tendency to think that celebrities should just sing and tap dance and act — that notion makes me angry,” Benet said. “Your voice is powerful so I encourage everybody to use it.”

During the Urban One Honors, music executive Sylvia Rhone was awarded with a Lifetime Achievement Honor; Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx was honored with the Entertainment Icon Award; Grammy Award-winning recording artist Missy Elliott won a Music Innovation Award; Grammy Award-winning artist Chance the Rapper won the Represent Change Honor; and Actor/Dancer Ryan Jamaal Swain won the Represent Pride Award. Benet was a featured performer at the event.