July 28, 2017
I Look To You by Manny Benton is a prayer and a word of encouragement that is deeply personal, yet inspiring. It is an expression of worship to God from a heart profoundly sincere and motivated by God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Though, softly sung, the strength and depth of the lyrics, the unmistakable passion in Benton’s voice, combined with the soothingly powerful instrumentals, carry the full power of a song uniquely equipped to both glorify God and edify the listener, as well as soulfully entertain, as the case may be.
“It was a week where I just felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders,” says Benton. “I literally opened my Bible asking God to reveal a word to me through Scripture and I was led to read Hebrews. It’s a familiar book, but what really struck me is how chapters 11-13 have this build-up from explaining what faith is, to teaching us how we ought to fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.”
“Hebrews 13:14 tells us that here, we have no enduring city, but we seek one yet to come,” he added. “This simple verse really just set a fire in me because when you read it in context with the previous chapters, it’s simply telling you to fix your eyes on Christ for that’s where your hope is found. This hope is the only absolute we have. So we ought to look to Him!”
“As a guy who grew up a huge fan of the Redskins, having an opportunity to cover the team was a dream come true,” Benton confesses. “It’s my passion, but I came to learn that the Lord wanted more from me.”
“I was a bit of a rebel when it came to music,” he cracks. “I enjoyed taking piano classes, but I didn’t enjoy having to read sheet music. That was extremely boring to me!”
“I had an opportunity to see this Jazz pianist, Brian Culbertson, live, and it just changed my entire perspective on music. It was fun and creative.”
“I would blast music from my living room stereo when my mom was out of the house and I’d record myself singing to it,” he recalls. “It was always Christian artists like Ron Kenoly, Jr. or the Kenoly Brothers that I would sing to. Looking back on it, that’s really how I trained my voice.”
“She’s a straight shooter, but I thought it sounded okay and wanted to get her feedback,” he remembers. “That turned out to be a good and a bad thing. It was a good thing because she confirmed that I could sing, but it was bad because she would then force me to sing. Not only that, but she broke the news to my middle school music teacher who in turn had me join the choir, and I’m not a fan of singing in choirs.”
“Most of the people who watched me grow up in the church never heard me sing,” he says. “It was kind of nerve wrecking to do an original while letting people hear me sing for the first time.”
“We sang a lot of hymns at my church, so that was the sound I was used to,” Benton says. “Although, I didn’t like playing hymns on the piano, I liked the emphasis placed on the lyrical content. So, I began to discover my sound and focus more on writing. When I did play an artist’s song it was always Israel Houghton or Chris Tomlin’s music.”
“I went through a phase of discovering worship as something I liked doing to it now becoming the very fabric of who I am,” he says.