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Benny Hester

Benny Hester
"You know..." says {{Benny Hester}}. "...I used to drive by that building with the 'W' on the side on Waco Drive. It said Word. I thought it was something for the blind. I really did. I guess I was right in a sense (laughter)." So says Benny Hester, one of the most successful Christian artists of the 80's. A native of Waco, Texas, Hester moved to Las Vegas after graduating from college to teach music in a private music school. It was there that his life changed direction.

"I was taken under the wing by Bill Porter," recalls Hester. "Bill Porter was the sound engineer that cut many of Elvis Presley's hits as well as the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison. He owned a studio in Las Vegas called United Recording."

"I took a tour of his studio and he asked me what I did. I told him I wrote songs. After I played him a few he said he was going to get me a recording deal. And he did."

After a couple of ill-fated mainstream recording efforts, Hester decided to try his hand writing some Christian songs. "I did some demos with my band and I sent them off to Billy Ray Hearn. He liked them and asked me to come meet with him." Hearn signed Hester as the first artist on the label.

"We went and recorded the whole album Be A Receiver. Brent Maher was the producer. Brent is still my publishing partner and co-writer. Brent went on in country music and discovered the Judds, producing most of their Number 1 songs."

In the years from 1978, the year Be a Receiver was released, until 1991, Hester released eight albums. The two most widely recognized are ==Nobody Knows Me Like You== and Benny From Here, both released on Myrrh Records.

==Nobody Knows Me Like You==, was produced by {{Michael Omartian}} and the title song became an unexpected crossover hit. "It got in the top 30 in Billboard," says Hester. "It was really the first indication that kind of thing could really happen."

Several years later Hester released Benny From Here, which contained the smash hit single "When God Ran," one of the biggest songs of that decade.

Then in 1991 Hester decided he needed to reflect on the course of his life. "After 12 or 13 years of that I wanted to step back and reevaluate my life and see if there were other things that I wanted to do." Two things happened simultaneously to Hester. First he became involved in other business pursuits. Second, he faced a health problem that threatened his singing career forever.

"I got involved in publishing and in TV," Hester says modestly. "In publishing I was able to help a few people. A couple of those were {{Bob Carlisle}} and Randy Thomas (of the Allies) who wrote a great country song, 'Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That.'" I got that to Dolly Parton and she had a Number One song with it. It was "Country Song of the Year" and "Video of the Year."

My wife had an idea for a TV variety show for kids. As we talked I decided to develop this show. We called it "Roundhouse." Originally we sold it to Fox Broadcasting. Fox tried to change the format and make it too adult for us. So after a year of working with them we got it back. We then made a deal with MTV Networks, which owns Nickelodeon. "Roundhouse" ran on Nickelodeon for 4 years, until Jan 1, 1996."

"'Roundhouse' received nine Cable Ace nominations in four years. That was the most ever for a show in the history of Nickelodeon. Six of them were for "Best Original Song on Television," and the other three were for "Best Variety Series or Special on Television."

While experiencing all this business success, Hester struggled with a voice threatening condition. "I developed a large polyp on my vocal chords. Over a two or three year period I had lost my voice to a point where it was sometimes even hard to talk. In the spring of 1996, after years of medication, I went back to the throat doctor. He told me that the polyp was gone. I was able to avoid surgery."

"That brings us up through this year," Hester says triumphantly. I feel like a new person. We (Rebel Entertainment, Hester's production company) currently have several shows in development."

"I want to be involved in television, although to a lesser degree. I want to become more involved in writing as I was in the past," Hester continues. "Especially since I feel like God has done something miraculous with my throat. I am hoping to do some new records. I really am proud of many of the records that I did. I look back and feel great about it. But I look at what I am doing now and I am just as excited as the day I started."