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Music blues musician Taj Mahal picture (pic) and photo gallery, albums covers pictures.
Birth name: Henry Saint Clair Fredericks.
Born: May 17, 1942 in New York, NY, USA.
He was born in Harlem in New York City, but grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was a jazz pianist/composer/arranger of Jamaican descent, while his mother was a schoolteacher from South Carolina who sang gospel. His grandfather married a St. Kitts woman. His sister was Carole Fredericks. In his song titled Ain't It Funky Now, he talks about his past and where he grew up.
In the early 1960s he studied agriculture and animal husbandry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and graduated in 1964. (The same university also gave him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 2006.) While there he formed Taj Mahal & the Elektras; using a stage name of the Taj Mahal was inspired by a dream.
After college, he moved to Los Angeles and formed the group Rising Sons with Ry Cooder in 1964. The group signed with Columbia Records and released one single and recorded another album which was not released by Columbia until 1992. Taj, frustrated with the mixed reaction to his music quit the group and went solo. Still with Columbia, he released a well received, self titled album in 1968, and based on its success released a second album, Natch'l Blues that same year. The two record set Giant Step, released in 1969 firmly established Taj as an American blues artist, with its title track becoming a cult favorite still popular with today's audiences. Taj and guitarist Jesse Ed Davis are also known for their performance in 1968 on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.
His music blends various sources: blues, reggae, Cajun, gospel, bluegrass, Hawaiian (in fact, Taj lived for many years on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i), African and Caribbean musical traditions. While keeping true to their roots, he adds his own special touch. He also plays an assortment of musical instruments.
He has received two Grammy Awards in the category Best Contemporary Blues Album, the first in 1997 for Senor Blues, and again in 2000 for Shoutin' In Key.
He has performed on various movie soundtracks including Sounder and Blues Brothers 2000 in which he also appeared. He also appeared briefly in the motion pictures Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (as the gatekeeper), Six Days, Seven Nights (as the singer at a resort hotel), Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (as the leader of a swing band performing at a party), Outside Ozona and The Song Catcher. He can also be heard singing the theme song and playing the acoustic guitar soundtrack on the children's cartoon Peep and the Big Wide World.
In 2006, he appeared as a guest musician on the Ladysmith Black Mambazo album Long Walk to Freedom, playing an electric guitar backing for "Mbube" ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight").
On February 8, 2006, Taj Mahal was designated the "official Blues Artist" of Massachusetts by Chapter 19 of the Acts of 2006. On December 16, 2006, he appeared with his band, Taj Mahal Trio, at the 18th Annual Warren Haynes Xmas Jam in Asheville, NC. The appearance was recorded for an upcoming DVD which is to be released in early 2007.