As a record producer and songwriter, Benny Blanco has made a significant mark in the music industry with a total of 29 number-one songs.
At 35, Blanco is now capturing headlines for a different reason: Selena Gomez confirmed that they have been dating for the past six months.
Gomez recently shared several social media posts about her blossoming relationship with Blanco, and it appears that the duo, who have worked together on albums since 2015, are clearly in love.
However, Blanco’s identity is much more than just Gomez’s new beau. Recognized as one of the top producers in the music world, he has written and produced some of the most popular songs of the 21st century. Also, he’s Jewish and a proud Jewish summer camp alum.
Here’s everything we know about his Jewish identity and his music career.
Blanco, originally named Benjamin Joseph Levin, was born on March 8, 1988, in Virginia to Jewish parents Sandra and Andrew Levin, who work in the apparel business and at an assisted living facility, respectively.
At age 6, he received his first cassette tapes — Nas’ “The World is Yours” and All-4-One’s “I Swear” — and fell in love with music from listening to those albums.
Blanco initially aspired to be a rapper, but he soon realized that “no one cares what a chubby Jewish kid from Virginia thinks” and decided to pursue making beats instead.
During his childhood, Blanco gained performing experience and hosted a radio show named “Ebba Ebba” at Camp Airy, a Jewish summer camp in Thurmont, Maryland. He has said these experiences molded him as a performer.
The producer, who has been spotted wearing a Star of David necklace, began his journey by reaching out to musicians on Myspace from his high school library.
He even took weekend trips to New York City, sleeping in a Times Square McDonald’s because he was funding these trips by himself, to secure meetings with record executives.
His efforts paid off when he caught the attention of Columbia Record executives, landing an internship with Jewish music producer Disco D, otherwise known as David Shayman.
Blanco enjoys Jewish cooking
In addition to his music career, Blanco has also made a name for himself in the food world, releasing cooking and food tour videos on YouTube and Instagram.
He recently posted a video with baking influencer Jake Cohen where they made Blanco’s latke recipe, one of the multiple Jewish recipes to be featured in his upcoming cookbook “Open Wide: A Cookbook for Friends.”
In a September video, Blanco and Cohen make Persian-inspired rice crispy treats, a recipe the chef made originally for a Shabbat dinner at Blanco’s house.
Blanco has also previously collaborated with Jewish comedian Eric Andre on cooking content and has spoken at length about his love of bagels and schmear on TikTok.
He received an award named for a leading Jewish songwriter
In 2018, Blanco received the Hal David Starlight Award, which recognizes emerging songwriters in the music world.
The award’s namesake, former Songwriter Hall of Fame CEO Hal David was the son of Austrian Jewish immigrant parents.
The Oscar- and Grammy award-winning writer is responsible for many of the top hits of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”
During the award ceremony at the Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame, Blanco joked that he was not deserving of the award, whose prior recipients include Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sara Bareilles and John Legend.
“They picked the wrong person, I’m in a room with people I should probably be serving food to,” Blanco said modestly.
Blanco’s received accolades from another Jewish musical icon
The self-described “neurotic Jew” has collaborated with Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, who is also Jewish, multiple times.
Blanco wrote and produced Maroon 5’s hit song “Moves Like Jagger” and their Platinum album “Overexposed,” including its leading single “Payphone.”
Levine praised Blanco in a New York Times article about the then-24-year-old’s massive success: “It’s almost as if he has the Midas touch in putting the right people together at the right time to create a musical moment. He’s about the collaboration. And he’s so good at nailing down who does everything best.”
Blanco is good friends with Jewish rapper Lil Dicky
Benny Blanco is extremely close with American-Jewish rapper Lil Dicky. In their videos together, the two have bonded over their shared Judaism.
In Lil Dicky’s drama series “Dave,” Blanco portrays a fictionalized version of himself, emphasizing his Jewish identity in the show. In one scene, Blanco discusses how he would say the Hebrew blessings too quickly growing up.
Lil Dicky guest-starred in an episode of “Matty and Benny Eat Out America,” a cooking show hosted by Blanco with chef Matty Matheson which debuted in 2020.
In the episode, titled “Kosher Bro-down,” the trio take a Jewish food tour of Los Angeles, eating at kosher delis, tracking down the best lox and trying modern Jewish cuisine.
In the episode, Matheson describes how close the two are and their shared connection to Judaism: “Those guys are both Jewish and I’m just a white kid and I feel very left out…They’re such good friends and that bond is hard to break.”
He has tweeted about his Judaism many times over the years
Blanco has shared his Jewish pride through a series of tweets over the years.
- In 2010, Blanco tweeted, “Being Jewish is a state of mind…not a religious group.”
- One year later, he celebrated his Judaism in a self-deprecating tweet when he wrote, “I love be[ing] Jewish and all but my unibrow has to go asap!”
- When the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch, otherwise known as MCA, died in 2012, he wrote, “Beastie Boys gave every Jewish kid hope to make it in the music industry.”
- He showed fans how relatable he (and his mother) are when he shared: “Jewish mothers will never run out of things to worry about.”
- He also wrote, “Happy Chanukah to all my short hairy awkward Jews!!! We are in this one together!!!”
- Blanco frequently acknowledges Jewish holidays and wished his followers a “happy Jew year” on Rosh Hashanah.
Originally Published Dec 14, 2023 04:06PM EST