As a solo artist and as frontman for Ben Folds Five, singer-songwriter-pianist-raconteur Ben Folds has sold more than 3 million records over the course of his career. He is familiar to American television audiences as a judge on "The Sing-Off," NBC's hit a cappella singing competition series, entering its third season in fall 2011. One of pop and rock's great piano-playing showmen, Ben's sound and sensibility -- an eclectic mix of rock power, jazz chops, and wryly observational songwriting -- evokes the essence of classic pop while adding an idiosyncratic infusion of energy and wit.
He launched Ben Folds Five (Ben on piano, Robert Sledge on bass and Darren Jessee on drums) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1994. With the trio's high energy gigs garnering an intensely loyal fanbase, BFF signed first with an indie, releasing an eponymous debut in 1995, before a move to the majors wrought 1997's watershed Whatever And Ever Amen. A slice of pure pop perfection, the album introduced the ballad "Brick," broke the band commercially and sold more than two million copies worldwide.
1998 saw the simultaneous release of a 16-track rarities collection (Naked Baby Photos) and Ben's first "solo" album, Fear Of Pop: Volume 1. Though Ben Folds Five regrouped for 1999's The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, which included the single "Army," the trio disbanded in 2000 (reuniting for a one-off live performance of The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner on MySpace in 2008).
Ben's first post-BFF solo album, 2001's Rockin' the Suburbs, yielded the title hit and repertoire classics "Annie Waits," "Zak and Sara," "Still Fighting It" and "The Luckiest." He released Ben Folds Live 2002 and, in 2005, Songs for Silverman, featuring the Adult Top 40 hit "Landed." 2006's supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp included an inspired cover of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit" which climbed to No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Europe's No. 1 Most Downloaded Song in early 2007.
2008's Way to Normal featured "You Don't Know Me," Ben's hit duet with Regina Spektor while 2009's two-disc Stems and Seeds included "stems" from the sessions allowing fans to remix and remaster the songs on a computer. His next record, Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella! featured Ben's a cappella versions of "Effington" (from his 2008 album Way to Normal) and "Boxing," which originally appeared on the 1995 self-titled Ben Folds Five album. Lonely Avenue, Ben Folds collaboration with author Nick Hornby, was released in September 2010.
2011 marks the release of The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective, a career-spanning assemblage of Ben's demos, iconoclastic 1990s indie rock recordings, live shows with Ben Folds Five, 21st century solo work and collaborations, and the premiere of three new Ben Folds Five studio recordings, the group's first in nearly 12 years.