Beal was born in Chicago, Illinois. In his early twenties Beal joined the US Army, moving to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Beal was medically discharged from the army due to intestinal problems. He then returned to Chicago where he worked at Sears Tower, following a five month hospital stay.
In 2007, Beal moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here Beal spent some time homeless, and working entry-level jobs, notably as a night-shift security guard. During this time Beal began to record music, leaving CD-Rs in public spaces around Albuquerque.
Beal would also leave self-illustrated flyers around the town in the hope of finding a girlfriend. One of these flyers was discovered by Found Magazine who put Beal on the cover of their magazine. Found later released a limited-edition box set called The Willis Earl Beal Collection, which included Beal’s poetry, artwork and a 17-song album. Through these flyers and the subsequent coverage in Found, Beal was contacted by more than 100 members of the public. Beal participated in auditions for Simon Cowell’s The X Factor television show, but dropped out of the “boot-camp” stage of the competition.
In 2012, Beal signed a recording contract with Hot Charity, an imprint of independent record label, XL Recordings. Beal’s first single for the labels, “Evening’s Kiss” was released on February 17, 2012 and the accompanying music video was illustrated by Beal. Beal’s debut album, entitled Acousmatic Sorcery was released on April 2, 2012.
His new album is titled Nobody knows. and was released in the US on September 10th, 2013. He will also star in a film entitled ‘MEMPHIS’ directed by Tim Sutton which premiered at the 2013 Venice film festival.
Published on Sep 24, 2013
From the Incubate festival website:
One of the most authentic soul voices in modern music, and a terrifyingly intense live performer
His voice is so intimidating it could be a bouncer for a nightclub. His voice is so sensual it could satisfy all your girlfriends while you’re out of town. He is Willis Earl Beal. He came from the streets, and over the last years he has become one of the most intense soul performers around. Style over substance over style over substance, Beal knows that he needs to entertain people to get them to listen. And listen we will.