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 career began more than four decades ago with American blues, he has broadened his artistic scope over the years to include music representing virtually every corner of the world: west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian islands and so much more. Born in Harlem and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, Taj was always surrounded by music; his father was a pianist from Caribbean descent and his mother was a gospel singer and schoolteacher from South Carolina. The young Taj learned to play the piano, clarinet, trombone and harmonica and started his musical career in the 60’s playing with Ry Cooder. Taj Mahal has released dozens of albums, exploring the roots of the blues as well as world music and has won two Grammy Awards, in 1997 and 2000.
“The one thing I’ve always demanded of the records I’ve made is that they be danceable,” he says. “This record is danceable, it’s listenable, it has lots of different rhythms, it’s accessible, it’s all right in front of you. It’s a lot of fun, and it represents where I am at this particular moment in my life. This record is just 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 many ways my music is just getting started.”
How we met:
We first met Taj Maal in New York City in the late 90’s during the recording of a version of Honky Tonk Women. We got in touch again a few years later when he started working with Los Lobos and we asked him to sing on our version of Gimme Shelter around the World. Taj has since been a strong inspiration for PFC, having participated in PFC Foundaion’s benefit concert at the Beacon Theatre in NYC for John Lennon’s anniversary, and in the release of the Imagine video in 2010. Taj is also featured on our album, a PFC3.