Backbeat: Eric Benet Plays Intimate Set for Fans, Def Leppard's Phil Collen, Mario Cantone
Backbeat: Eric Benet Plays Intimate Set for Fans, Def Leppard's Phil Collen, Mario Cantone
Eric Benet and Mario Cantone
From Left: Eric Benet and Mario Cantone

Guvera Loft Space in Greenwich Village was buzzing Tuesday night (Nov. 29) as fans, industry executives and celebrities packed into the intimate space to sip signature cocktails and enjoy a private set by Eric Benet.

Actor Mario Cantone of Sex and the City and Phil Collen of Def Leppard (who told Billboard.biz the band is scheduling a new tour with Mötley Crüe) were in the audience to show support for Benet's upcoming release "The One." Also in full force were members of the Primary Wave Management team including Partner Greg Hamerschlag, CEO Larry Mestel and Aimee Berger also a Partner and founder of Camplified who came to celebrate the R&B singer's new partnership with EMI/Capitol Records.

Check out all of our Backbeats -- our exclusive look at the people behind the music business -- right here.

"For the first time I was graciously and most appreciatively released from Warner Brothers and I am now owner of my own record label Jordan House Records," Benet announced from the stage before treating the audience to live version of his latest single "Real Love."

The room was brimming with love. The ladies lit up when Benet launched into a sultry version of "Chocolate Legs" from 2008's "Love & Life." Twelve Bar designers Mark Bruinooge and Steve Halloran were in the audience to champion Benet's support of the company's "It's All Love" fashion line, and everyone loved the Grey Goose cocktails so much that the bartender ran out before the night was over.

Backstage, Benet posed with Cantone and unbuttoned his shirt to fend off the unseasonably warm and rainy November evening. When Billboard.biz asked Benet what separates "The One" from his previous albums, he said it was his new-found creative freedom. "When you own a project there's a completely different motivation behind the creativity, behind the energy into the project." Having been a Warner Brothers artist since 1995, Benet seemed eager take on his new role as CEO.

"Being the owner of the label and calling the shots clears up a whole other headspace to focus on the creative energy of the record. It feels completely different this time. It's definitely the best record that I've ever done so far."

After the performance and the painful realization that there was no more Grey Goose to consume, the crowd thinned. Most were headed to the G-Shock party downtown. There was rumors it was sponsored by Hennessey.

Portishead
From Left to Right: Steve Halloran and Mark Bruinooge of Twelve Bar
Aimee Berger and Greg Hamerschlag or Primary Wave with Phil Collen of Def Leopard and Wife
From Left to Right: Aimee Berger and Greg Hamerschlag of Primary Wave with Phil Collen of Def Leopard and wife.

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