Benny DiChiara is not fragile, yet he understands the fragility of life. He is not lost, but he knows the aimless paths of those who wander. He is not a victim, but he has experienced life-saving salvation from the inside out. His world has been shaken, but his feet are planted firmly on the strongest of foundations. And even as he faced an abyss of the unknown, he never did so alone.
In October 2015, the singer, songwriter, businessman, motivational speaker, father, and husband endured a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that placed his life and future in peril. A fall sent him to the emergency room and ICU with a concussion and closed fracture of the skull base with subarachnoid, subdural, and extradural hemorrhage. The catastrophic injury could have easily ended his life or, at the least, compromised the quality of it.
"I absolutely remember nothing from the first month after my injury," he shares. "It's just gone. Once I started to come out of it, there were memory gaps, speech issues, and walking issues. Everything looked surreal."
The battle for his life and mind was not easy or quick. Amid the struggle, though, he clung to the knowledge that the battle for his heart had already been won.
"I liken the experience to someone who is just lost, who feels like they cannot find their way," he shares. "You have no answers. But then there's Jesus."
Hand-in-hand with his Savior, DiChiara not only defied medical odds; he discovered and plumbed the depths of burgeoning creative inspiration that merged into the most recent EP from his band, Empowered, entitled Three Days.
"As I recovered, the injury did not affect my ability to make music," he shares. "I was afraid I would lose that gifting. Instead, He has elevated that gift."
God not only restored and magnified DiChiara’s musical gifts, He also provided back-up through the latest iteration of Benny’s band, Empowered. Shane Madere Jr. wears multiple hats as the lead guitarist, backing vocalist, and co-leader. Jeff Maddox, the youngest member, is a prodigy on bass, while also lending his vocals to the mix. Mic Capdeville consistently blows audiences away as a killer percussionist with crazy vocal chops. The group is rounded out by another stand-out talent, Justin Burdette, who simply shreds it on strings.
Their talent, alongside DiChiara’s resolve and new insight, coalesced and put to song the miracle of salvation, the joy of purpose, and the unshakable, unequivocal victory that Christ claimed when He rose on the third day.
"There's a lot going on in this world, and yet people are still searching," says DiChiara. "The project's title track began with this simple truth—no matter what is going on in your life, no matter what Satan is throwing at you, God took care of it. Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and rose again for all of us. And He did it all in just three days!"
DiChiara's lyrical dexterity and driving sense of musicality propel each track on this unapologetically bold project while encompassing his entire life journey from lost to found, aimless to empowered—a characteristic that, aptly, became his band's moniker.
"Once someone hears and is touched in any way by the message of God's love, it's their duty to 'empower' others with that message," he shares.
It's a duty he assumes with pride and intentionality, as one who knows first-hand the emptiness of a life lived apart from Christ. While he was raised in church, the truth of redemption alluded his heart and mind for years.
"I considered myself a Christian, but had no idea what being a Christian meant," says DiChiara. "I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the eldest of six children. We were raised in a liturgical church. I even served as an acolyte. All those years, I learned a lot about Jesus, but I did not know Jesus."
It would be a while before a genuine relationship with his Savior took shape. He spent four years in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman, enjoyed success with a regional secular rock band, and started a family. Over time, however, pieces of his life began to unravel, including his marriage.
"Divorce after more than ten years was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through," DiChiara confesses. "Man, do I wish that I had truly known Jesus at that time—I believe things could have turned out differently."
Five years following the divorce, while working as a floor manager for a local automobile dealership, one of his clients invited him to church. Then she asked him again. And again. Until he finally agreed to attend a service at what was then known as Trinity Christian Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"Thank God for that sweet lady's persistence," DiChiara says. "I loved the music. I loved the message. I felt God was speaking directly to me. At the end of the service, I went forward during the altar call and gave my life to Jesus, and my life has never been the same since!"
From that point, he surrendered every aspect of his world to his Savior. Fifteen years later, he is still in awe of the mighty works God set into motion. In 1998, he married Donna Lyle Schram. Their family now includes four grown children and nine grandchildren.
Empowered has become a staple of the live music scene in their home state of Louisiana, sharing the stage with such powerhouse artists as Switchfoot, MercyMe, 7eventh Time Down, and Jaci Velasquez.
Their latest release has generated more than 260,000 streams on Spotify alone, while the single, "Listen to the Children," debuted at #5 on IndieGospel.net's popular show, T. Roy Taylor's Top 20 Countdown.
The success is indicative of the music's relevance and poignancy for such a time as this.
"Society is bombarding our kids with messages that are the antithesis of the Gospel," says DiChiara. "We need to counter that with our faith and give our kids strong, Godly guidance on these issues. But we can't do that without communicating. We need to listen to our children so we can hear what the world is telling them, and counter it with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Track after track, DiChiara does just that, imbuing each song with timeless, eye-opening truth. From the title track that "points the world to the King of Kings," to the crunchy guitars on the electrically charged anthem "Rock Bottom," God's unconditional grace takes center stage.
"Jesus is our rock," shares DiChiara. "The good news is that no matter how far down you fall, you don't have to live there.”
"Sometimes we get caught up in our own little world and fail to see what God has in store for us on a deeper, more personal level," he continues. "It's like living inside of a snow globe—all you see is snow when your world gets shaken. It takes someone outside of the snow globe (God) to show us the bigger picture."
For the last five years, Benny has had quite a view, not to mention more than one shake-down. Even now, his TBI and its cause remain somewhat of a mystery, while the effects are lingering.
"The doctors never did figure out why my fall occurred. But, thank God, I recovered mostly," DiChiara says. "There are a few after-effects—I have an occasional memory lapse, and I have no sense of taste or smell due to the frontal lobe crush that happened during the fall. Ultimately, though, this event has only strengthened my relationship with Christ.”
“There is something in the silence and peace that He brings in this type of situation,” he continues. “I always thought that God's voice was this huge, booming command. I found that it's gentle, caring, loving, compassionate, and understanding. It's peace. There is no doubt that He saved me for a reason. He spoke it into me with the knowledge that He was, and He is, and He always will be there for me."
DiChiara's conviction eloquently takes shape in the song, "Jeremiah 29:11," based on the scripture passage, which has always been a favorite. But following the injury, it became a lifeline.
"I wrote this song while I was alone in my home during my recovery," he says. "The Holy Spirit prompts most of my writing, but God audibly gave me the lyrics to this song. It is based on Jeremiah 29:11, which says: 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
“That is my all-time favorite Bible verse because of its awesome promises," he says. "God said to me, 'Tell the people that what I did for you, I can do for them. All they have to do is lean into My presence.'"
It's a commission DiChiara has assumed with enthusiasm, purpose, and gratitude, his convictions dictating his words and deeds on and off stage, notably through a partnership with Children's Cup, a ministry to the poorest of the poor in regions where AIDS is rampant, poverty is crushing, and the ranks of orphaned and vulnerable children continue to swell.
"Brother Dave Ohlerking and his wife Jean founded Children's Cup as a mission and ministry to save young lives in Africa. They have since expanded into Central and South America. Donations go towards building a God-filled community amongst these sweet kids," DiChiara explains. "My wife Donna and I had been giving to Children's Cup on our own, and we love what they do. So, when the band started doing well, we wanted to partner with a ministry that was full of purpose and felt that there was none better than Children's Cup. Each month, we tally our CD sales and tithe 10% of those sales directly to their ministry efforts. It's a big calling, and one we're proud to be a part of."
Be it on a sound stage, a business presentation, a speaking engagement, or a songwriting session, DiChiara's life reverberates with a divine calling and purpose. His journey has been long, but his destination was decided in just three days. From the cross to the grave to the throne, Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection charted the course for DiChiara's healing and ministry.
"The word enthusiasm means ‘God within,’" shares DiChiara. "I am all about building confidence and enthusiasm through my music and my business. Wherever I am, it's all about Jesus."
His fragility has turned to strength; the paths that were once cloaked in darkness are now bathed in light, and the man who was once at the edge of life is now full of purpose and divine presence.
"God used this in my life to teach me not to be afraid," says DiChiara. "I know that He saved my life and that He has a plan for my life. I am not afraid to be bold in representing Him now."
ABOUT BENNY & EMPOWERED
Singer/songwriter/survivor Benny DiChiara has a powerful testimony of God's mercy and healing that he loves to share. And he has been sharing it all over the world--most recently on national and international media outlets including The 700 Club, Cornerstone Television Network's flagship show, Hope Today, The NRB Network's award-winning TV show Babbie's House, and many more.
DiChiara is the founder and frontman of the indie Christian rock band Empowered, whose latest EP, Three Days, has garnered seven No. 1's over the past year.
In June 2021, the title cut from the band's latest project, Three Days, hit No. 1 on IndieGospel.net's Top 20 Chart. At the same time, "Rock Bottom," the third single from the album, debuted on the same chart at No. 7, making it the third single from the album to enter these charts.
In addition to the band's latest No. 1, their “Listen to the Children” single reached the No. 1 spot on Indiegospel.net's Top 20 chart in December 2020.
Their “Three Days” music video has reached the No. 1 spot on the IndieGospel.net Top 10 video chart three times: in December 2020, January 2021, and again in April 2021. Their “Listen to the Children” music video has reached the No. 1 spot twice, debuting at No. 1 on the IndieGospel.net Top 10 video chart in September 2020 and hit No. 1 again in January 2021.
Songs from the album have also done well on Spotify, with “Listen to the Children” impacting with 93,519 spins, “Three Days” reaching 55,631, “Jeremiah 29:11” garnering 51,370, and “Rock Bottom” already coming in with 53,652 spins. This gives DiChiara & Empowered a total of 254,172 spins from the album Three Days.
A New Orleans native, DiChiara wears multiple hats as a singer, songwriter, businessman, and motivational speaker. Having come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ later in life, the U.S. Navy vet first fronted a secular rock band before surrendering his music to ministry.
When a traumatic brain injury nearly took his life and his capacity to create music, it was his faith that helped him navigate the long, often winding road to recovery. Today, DiChiara puts that experience to use as he shares God's goodness with others through word and song.
DiChiara's band, Empowered, is comprised of DiChiara (lead vocals and songwriting), Shane Madere Jr. (lead guitarist, backing vocalist), Jeff Maddox (bass and background vocals), Mic Capdeville (percussion and background vocals), and Justin Burdette (guitarist and background vocals).
DiChiara and Empowered are proud to contribute to the work of the non-profit organization, Children's Cup (childrenscup.org).
DiChiara has recently landed multiple high-profile media appearances, including The 700 Club, Babbie's House, and Cornerstone TV's flagship show, Hope Today, CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ), and Inspiration.org, among many others.
Three Days was the band's first release since DiChiara nearly lost his life to a traumatic brain injury. His journey of healing makes the accomplishments of 2020 and 2021 all the more significant.
ABOUT THREE DAYS
In a year hallmarked by fear, tragedy, and dissent, Three Days, the latest project from Benny DiChiara and Empowered, provided a light in the darkness, as it reminded people of God's restoration, healing, and unconditional love.
The band's sophomore project, Three Days, not only yielded multiple No. 1's; it was the band's first release since DiChiara endured a life-altering injury that threatened to end his music ministry entirely. His journey of healing made the project's achievements all the more significant.
In October 2015, DiChiara suffered a fall that left him with a concussion and closed fracture of the skull base with subarachnoid, subdural, and extradural hemorrhage. This traumatic brain injury (TBI) could have easily taken his life or permanently incapacitated him.
"I absolutely remember nothing from the first month after my injury," he says of his long, often winding road to recovery. "As I recovered, the injury did not affect my ability to make music. I was afraid I would lose that gifting. Instead, He has elevated that gift."
DiChiara's talent and determination did not go unnoticed. Three Days producer Mikey Howard first heard the band when they opened for his own Dove Award-nominated band, 7eventh Time Down. "I was impressed by their passion for music and their craft," says Howard, best known for "God is on the Move," his band's No. 1 radio single on Billboard's Christian AC Indicator chart.
"But more importantly, I loved their passion for Jesus!" Howard continues. "It was an honor to work with them on this project."
The high caliber of the studio recording is reflected in the production quality of the music videos. "Three Days" was filmed by Richy Long and Gary Governale of LA Post Group in Baton Rouge, who also directed the shoot.
"When people see our videos, they might not realize all of the hard work and excellence that goes on behind the scenes, and that's what we have learned to expect from Richy and Gary with each video shoot that they do. They help elevate our message by using the talents God has given them."
That commitment to excellence is making an impact on Christian radio around the country, with many industry insiders taking note of the band's fresh sound and relevant messaging.
"Empowered has a high-quality original sound that resonates with the young, old, and every soul in between," says Shelby Lewis of Miracle 89.1 FM.
"The music is positive, high energy, and has an undeniable love for Jesus in it. The messages within really hit home," says Brian Tucker of Christian Mix 106.
A living testament to the healing power of an all-mighty God, Benny DiChiara and Empowered are proof-positive that, while God's plans are not always our plans, they are always higher and greater.
Three Days—the project, the song, and the video—are multi-sensory reminders of a sovereign God whom not even death can contain.
"Jesus took care of everything in just three days. And that includes you!" says DiChiara. "I hope that you will let others know what He has done for you in your life so that they may receive this precious gift as well. Eternity is ours if we just believe."
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By EMPOWERED, 2017-07-05
Have you ever had enough? Have you ever been sick and tired of being sick and tired? Does it seem as though Satan is ALL UP IN YO’ STUFF? A lot of times, it looks that way. It feels that way, and we react on those feelings. Well, I’ve learned over the course of my life that feelings kill. And it’s because emotions run our feelings, and with that, we often cannot make a clear-headed decision about anything when we’re like that.
Kid decisions, spouse decisions, work decisions, sometimes even faith decisions. I saw this come across my twitter feed from Toby Mac, and thought it was awesome and spoke a lot.
"Sometimes God will put a Goliath in your life for you to find the David within you."
Can you feel me now? Does that not speak to us and to our trials? David didn’t go looking for Goliath – remember, he went looking for his brothers. The situation happened upon him when he approached the camp. So, when our own personal Goliath...