Stella Rose Bennett, better known as Benee, is an indie-pop singer-songwriter from New Zealand. She initially considered a career in water polo but quit it later to plunge into music. She started her music career by posting covers on SoundCloud. After gaining success with her singles Tough Guy and Soaked, she released her debut EP, Fire on Marzz, in 2019. Her second EP, Stella & Steve, released in November 2019 and gained massive success. Its single Supalonely became a viral dance challenge on TikTok in 2020.
Early Life & Family
Benee was born Stella Rose Bennett, on January 30, 2000, in the suburb of Grey Lynn in Auckland, New Zealand. She initially used the stage name “Bene” but later added an extra “e” to it due to issues related to copyright and pronunciation.
Owing to her “musically inclined” family, Benee was exposed to music quite early in life. She grew up listening to Radiohead, Björk, Lily Allen, and Amy Winehouse.
At 8, Benee began learning to play the guitar. In high school, she attended saxophone lessons. However, after a few years, she began focusing on water polo.
She also attended St. Mary’s College, a girls’ Catholic school. The school had a mandatory music course of 4 years. By 17, she had started writing and recording music. She thus decided to quit water polo.
She then joined a communications program at the Auckland University of Technology but dropped out after 2 weeks.
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Benee started her music career by uploading cover versions of her favorite tracks on SoundCloud. She had started making her own music by her final year of high school.
After dropping out of university, she decided to plunge into music seriously. She was soon noticed by producer Josh Fountain, a member of the band Leisure.
She made her solo debut in 2017, using the pseudonym “Bene,” with the single Tough Guy. She then gained fame with her 2018 single Soaked. The song was certified “double-platinum” in New Zealand and was featured at number 58 on the Triple J Hottest 100 in 2018.
Her debut EP, Fire on Marzz, was released with help of Josh Fountain on June 28, 2019. Earlier that year, she had signed with Republic Records. The EP peaked at number 75 on the Australian Albums Chart and at number 13 on the New Zealand Albums Chart.
On November 15 that year, her second EP, Stella & Steve, was released. It peaked at number 19 on the New Zealand Albums Chart and was on all the major music charts in the U.S., Canada, and France.
The EP's final single, Supalonely, featuring Gus Dapperton, became a massive international hit in March 2020, after it was part of a viral dance challenge on TikTok. Though Supalonely was about a broken relationship, it became a quarantine anthem due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The song was featured at number one on Rolling Stone’s Trending 25 Chart in March. It also peaked at number 41 on the RS 100 chart. Her song Glitter had been made viral through a similar dance challenge in December 2019.
In June 2020, Supalonely recorded over 250 million streams. It also became her debut performance on TV, when she performed it on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She performed the track on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, too.
What was to be Benee's first headlining North American tour, supported by Remi Wolf, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Benee released the single Night Garden, featuring American producer Kenny Beats and British musician Bakar, in July 2020. It was announced as the lead single of her upcoming album.
She won the New Zealand Music Award for the Best Solo Artist in November 2019. She also won the Best Breakthrough Artist and the Best Pop Artist awards, while Soaked won the Single of the Year award at the same event.
In 2019, her songs Glitter, Find an Island, and Evil Spider appeared on the Triple J Hottest 100 at numbers 19, 25, and 51 respectively.
She was declared Apple Music's Up Next artist for July 2020, thus becoming New Zealand’s first artist to win the title.
Benee will go on a headlining tour of New Zealand in October 2020 and is all set to release her debut album.
Singer Elton John has praised her as the “next global smash” and “an amazing young artist."
Benee had been dyslexic as a child and took to songwriting because that did not require her to be grammatically correct.