Whether back in the day at Severna Park High School’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, at happy hour, a late-night gig, an open mic, or leading worship at church, Ben Heemstra has found the ear of many local music lovers who have listened to him or the two bands he’s in: Del Florida, or Kavoosi & The Typos. The man’s got his hands in it all.
He graduated from high school in 2008 and went to the University of Maryland, first majoring in business and then transferring to the music program. Now Heemstra is devoting his talents to any music opportunity he finds. He sings, plays guitar and is classically trained in piano.
“I could sing before I could speak,” Heemstra said. Encouragement, support and gentle prodding came from his parents when he was as young as 6 years old, taking piano lessons. “I didn’t like it as a kid,” he admitted. “My mom forced me to take lessons.”
His mother took piano lessons and didn’t like them when she was a child, so she stopped, and she always regretted the decision. She wasn’t going to let that happen to Ben. So, she insisted he practice for an hour before school and another hour after school.
His heart wasn’t in it and his teacher stopped the lessons when he was 15. The apathy changed in high school, however, when he began to experiment with popular music, and he taught himself guitar. Soon he was jamming with his friends and loving his musical life. He was on his way but wasn’t quite sure where he was going yet.
At the University of Maryland, though majoring in business, his heart was still beating out a rhythm. He registered for piano lessons again, this time of his own choosing. Also, at the college, he sang in a male a cappella group, The Generics, that auditioned for “America’s Got Talent.” They even advanced to a second audition. “That was a blast,” Heemstra said with a chuckle.
“I never thought of music as a career. It’s too hard to make money in it, and it’s not steady,” he had told himself. But he didn’t believe it. And eventually, it didn’t matter.
By his junior year, he changed his major to music education. He was also involved with the praise team at Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis and enjoyed the experience.
In 2016, Heemstra began leading music at Mariner’s Church in Annapolis as a contract worker, and he then became the staff music and creative director while attending college.
But Heemstra began to feel called in a different direction. “I just wanted to make music for a living,” he said.
He poured himself into his all avenues of music, teaching piano, guitar and vocals. Also, he joined two bands, as well as doing solo acts and studio work. After leaving Mariner’s Church, he now does music ministry through “guest worship,” which he describes as a temporary agency for worship musicians, so he plays and leads worship at a variety of churches.
Heemstra is all in. “I’ve just been going with the flow of opportunities that come to me,” he said. “I’m trying to live as stress-free as I possibly can.”
Find Heemstra’s music on his “Benjamin David Heemstra” Facebook page or on Instagram at rockflagneagles. Also, keep any eye out on social media for upcoming original material.