Literally, THE Taj Mahal of The Blues

By: sonofabeach96

May 17 2016

Category: Uncategorized

12 Comments

On this date, in 1942, Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, aka Taj Mahal, was born in Harlem, NY.  He’s a legendary figure and Blues master.  He comes by it naturally it would seem, with a mom who sang in a gospel choir and a dad, who was West Indian, that played piano and was a jazz arranger of great renown.  The Caribbean influence from his dad has long been influential and present in his songs.  In addition, he’s said that his family had a shortwave radio, exposing him to world music at a young age, and his dad being in the music business, he was exposed to artists from the Caribbean and Africa that visited their home.

He nearly gave up music after discovering a love for farming at age 16, and was a foreman at a dairy farm in Massachusetts by age 19.  Not surprisingly, he’s a regular at FarmAid events.  He was re-introduced to music while at UMass in the late 50’s and early 60’s, as an Animal Husbandry major and minoring in Veterinary Science and Agronomy.  It’s also around that time that he began using the stage name Taj Mahal.  He moved to California around 1964, and so began his 50-year career, with the release of his first solo album, the self-titled Taj Mahal, in 1968.

His career struggled a bit in the mid to late-seventies and early-eighties, but found a resurgence in the 90’s.  He left Warner Bros. in the 80’s and sorta disappeared to Hawaii.  He worked with a couple of other labels later, as the Hula Blues Band, and eventually signed with Private Music in the 90’s as a solo artist.  That decade brought his greatest success, seeing several new albums of primarily blues and R&B, collaboration on the album Largo with some of the biggest names in music, and winning Grammy’s in 1997 and 2000, for Señor Blues and Shoutin’ In Key, respectively.  He’s been nominated 9 other times.  He’s produced 26 studio albums, 8 live albums, 13 compilation albums, and collaborated on countless others.  In 2014, he received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  I’m not sure why he hasn’t been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as yet.

So, Happy Birthday to you, Taj Mahal.  If you aren’t familiar with him, check out these albums for good introduction:

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12 comments on “Literally, THE Taj Mahal of The Blues”

  1. I don’t know him but will check him out!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw him live a year or two ago, in an intimate 300 seat setting. Catch him if you can!

    Liked by 1 person


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