WHEN YOU INFUSE Savannah soul with a Parliament-Funkadelic-esq rock vibe, you get LaFaye Benton.
Her soundscape is beyond the conventional “lounge singer” of yesteryear. Her incongruous zest for life has made her somewhat of an anomaly in Savannah’s music scene. She’s not just a songbird with a pretty face and the 29-year-old even asserts this in her first single released this past March called, “Flaws & All.”
“No, I’m not like them girls in the movies
The typical video girl
I’m more than just body and beauty
So take me as I am”
While she and her band, LaFaye and the Fellas, pumps up crowds all over the Low Country with catchy tunes, her original music is a mixture of her musical influences, including Prince, Al Green, Whitney Houston, Fantasia, Tina Turner and James Brown. Her style bridges the gap between neo-soul and rock as she seamlessly and dauntlessly pushes her artsy, alternative style into the musical world that she hopes to conquer one day under the guise of a rock-soul goddess.
“I just want to make fun, relatable and relevant music that every one of all ages from my great grandmother to my 3-year-old goddaughter can listen to,” Benton said.
Her journey to solo recording artist and band frontwoman has been anything but ordinary. Born and raised in Atlanta, she began singing in the church at the age of 5, which later complimented the listening habits of her father, which fell somewhere between Earth Wind and Fire and Queen. It’s no wonder how she invoked an appreciation for good, live music, because she was literally entrenched in it growing up.
She left Atlanta in 2013 after joining the Army and being stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah. In 2015, she took on a new role with the Army as a vocalist in the 3rd Infantry Division Band on Ft. Stewart.
Her Army career ended in 2017 and after a year sabbatical, she started LaFaye and the Fellas in 2018. Once she got two sets of keyboards, a guitar, bass and drums behind her, she flourished and so did Savannah’s live-music scene, in large part thanks to her presence and stylish influence.
Aside from the musical scene, Benton also was a part of the city’s booming tourism industry as a member of the opening staff for Plant Riverside’s JW Marriott.
“That place was really great and I was happy to be a part of it,” Benton said.
Even when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Savannah hard, she didn’t let it set her back personally. She took the time to focus on perfecting her “instrument” with vocal training and practicing piano and guitar.
“I just used the time as best as I knew how,” she said.
Benton has taken her local success in stride and doesn’t just rest on that fact alone. In addition to her blossoming music career, she also is a full-time student seeking her bachelor’s degree in the science of business administration from Columbia College and the co-owner of an event planning and interior design business called Prodigious Designs, where she and her partner do everything from decorating Airbnb’s to coordinating full-blown weddings.
“It’s really my second baby,” Benton said.
Despite Benton’s many passions, music remains the primary focal point that centers her chaotic life. Daily, it is what powers her momentum towards success, she said.