Stephen Bennett

West Cornwall, USA

The Rights of Coral


Behind the Music

The journey Ian takes readers on through his reporting in The Outlaw Ocean Project was incredibly compelling for me, and I knew I wanted my album to pay tribute to all of its stories in different ways. I sought to construct individual narratives with each of my 10 songs. Whether it was using the sounds of a coral reef to tell the story of Ian descending into the depths of the sea in a submersible in “The Rights of Coral,” or a Nordic mythology take on the tale of Captain Peter Hammerstedt and the crew of the Bob Barker chasing an illegal fishing ship in “We Got the Thunder,” each track was approached in a unique way. Composing some of the songs also brought about new creative opportunities for me, like in “Before Time Runs Out,” in which I experimented with new instrumentation and improvised percussive sounds.

Being part of this project has motivated me in so many ways, including continuing to follow along with Ian’s reporting. One of his more recent works on China’s invisible fishing armada, which was featured by NBC News and The Economist, inspired the finale of my album, “Epilogue (Truth Matters).” As I wrote this song however, I realized I wasn’t just reacting to the facts themselves, but rather the idea of reporting itself — of a journalist’s search for the truth of any story. Through this song and this album, I wanted to raise my voice to remind people that these endeavors matter.

Stephen Bennett
About Stephen Bennett

One of the most prolific and original acoustic guitarists of his generation, Stephen Bennett is also a leading exponent of the harp guitar. The Toronto Finger-Style Guitar Association dubbed him “the Jedi Master of Fingerstyle Guitar.” He’s performed in many countries around the world and shared the stage with some of the finest guitarists there are. Stephen is also the founder of the Harp Guitar Gathering, an annual event that brings players, builders, scholars and fans of this instrument together for a weekend.

Whatever guitar he's playing, in live performance or on recordings, Stephen Bennett’s lifelong love affair with the sound of guitar strings is evident – and contagious.

The Journalism behind the Music

All music in this project is based on The Outlaw Ocean, a New York Times Best-Selling book by Ian Urbina that chronicles lawlessness at sea around the world. This reporting touches on a diversity of abuses ranging from illegal and overfishing, arms trafficking at sea, human slavery, gun running, intentional dumping, murder of stowaways, thievery of ships and other topics.

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