Composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Taj Mahal is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20th century blues and roots music. Though his profession began more than 4 decades ago with American blues, he has broadened his artistic scope for many years to consist of music representing essentially every corner of the world– west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian islands and so much more.
Henry St. Claire Fredericks Harlem on Might 17, 1942 Taj matured in Springfield, Massachusetts. Daddy, a jazz pianist, composer and arranger of Caribbean descent, and his mother a gospel singing teacher from South Carolina. His daddy had a comprehensive record collection. He started classical piano, likewise playing the clarinet, trombone and harmonica, and enjoyed to sing. He found his stepfather’s guitar and became major about it in his early teenagers when a guitarist from North Carolina relocated next door and taught him the various designs of Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed and other titans of Delta and Chicago blues. “We spoke a number of dialects in my home– Southern, Caribbean, African– and we heard dialects from eastern and western Europe,” Taj remembers. In addition, musicians from the Caribbean, Africa and all over the U.S. regularly went to the Fredericks house, and Taj ended up being even more amazed with roots– the origins of all the various kinds of music he was hearing. He tossed himself into the research study of older kinds of African-American music.
Henry studied farming at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the early 1960s. Inspired by a dream, he adopted the musical alias of Taj Mahal and formed the popular U. Mass celebration band, the Elektras. After finishing, he headed west in 1964 to Los Angeles, where he formed the Increasing Boys, a six-piece attire that consisted of guitar player Ry Cooder. The band opened for numerous prominent touring artists of the ’60s, including Otis Redding, the Temptations and Martha and the Vandellas. Around this exact same time, Taj also joined numerous blues legends, including Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Pal Person, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Sleepy John Estes. This variety of musical experience served as the bedrock for Taj’s frecordings: Taj Mahal (1967 ), The Natch’ l Blues (1968) and Huge Action (1969 Pleased To be Simply Like I Am (1971 ), Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff (1972 ), the GRAMMY ®- nominated soundtrack to the movie Sounder (1973 ), Mo’ Roots (1974 ), Music Fuh Ya (Music Para Tu) (1977) and Advancement (The The Majority Of Recent) (1978 ). consisting of such projects as the musical arrangements for the Langston Hughes/Zora Neale Hurston play Mule Bone (1991) and the motion picture Zebrahead (1992 ). Later on in the decade, Dancing the Blues (1993 ), Phantom Blues (1996 ), An Evening of Acoustic Music (1996) and the GRAMMY ®- winning Señor Blues (1997) Taj continued to check out world music, starting with the appropriately entitled World Music in 1993. He joined Indian classical musicians on Mumtaz Mahal in 1995, and recorded Sacred Island, a blend of Hawaiian music and blues, with the Hula Blues in 1998. Kulanjan, launched in 1999, was a collective job with Malian kora player Toumani Diabate (the kora is a 21-string west African harp). In 2000, Taj released a second GRAMMY ®- winning album, Shoutin’ in Secret, and recorded a 2nd album with the Hula Blues, Hanapepe Dream, in 2003.
Taj in the fall of 2008 with the worldwide release of Maestro: Celebrating 40 Years. As the title recommends, this twelve-track set marks the fortieth anniversary of Taj’s abundant and diverse recording profession by blending initial product, chestnuts borrowed from timeless sources, and songs composed by a cadre of extremely skilled guest artists. This anniversary gala includes efficiencies by Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Angelique Kidjo, Los Lobos and others– much of whom have been straight influenced by Taj’s music and assistance.” The one thing I’ve constantly demanded of the records I have actually made is that they be danceable,” he states. “This record is danceable, it’s listenable, it has lots of different rhythms, it’s available, it’s all right in front of you. It’s a great deal of enjoyable, and it represents where I am at this specific moment in my life. This record is simply the beginning of another chapter, one that’s going to be open to more music and more ideas. Even at the end of forty years, in numerous methods my music is simply getting begun.”.