Henry Saint Clair Fredricks, better known to the world as blues musician Taj Mahal, celebrates a birthday today. The Grammy Award-winning artist is primarily known for his work in the blues, but has also incorporated various elements of world music into his tunes.
Fredricks was born in 1942 in Harlem, N.Y., and raised in Springfield, Mass. by musician parents that exposed him to genres from around the globe. As a teen and later as a student at the University of Massachusetts, Mahal developed a strong love for farming and nearly chose it as a career, but the pull of music was strong. While in college, he led an R&B band while using his many influences to discover his sound.
In 1964, he moved to California and formed the band Rising Sons with Ry Codder and Jessie Lee Kincaid, becoming one of the few interracial bands of the era. The group disbanded and in 1968, Mahal embarked upon a solo career and hasn’t stopped since. With well over two dozen albums, nine live albums, and just over a dozen compilation albums, Mahal has been nominated by the Grammys 10 times, winning three, with his most recent award for the album “TajMo” for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2018.
Taj Mahal still continues to perform and record music.