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Blues Musician Taj Mahal Reflects On His Prolific Career

After 50 Years Of Performing, Taj Mahal Remembers Growing Up In Western Mass And The Influence On His Music

Taj Mahal performs at the 2018 Grammys.
Taj Mahal performs at the 60th annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in New York.
Matt Sayles/Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
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Blues Musician Taj Mahal Reflects On His Prolific Career

Taj Mahal is a blues icon and a two-time Grammy award winner who has been performing on stage for more than 50 years. Adding to his accolades, as of 2006, he was declared the official blues artist of Massachusetts.

The musician sat down with Morning Edition's Joe Mathieu to talk about everything from growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts, to influences on his music. “The culture was about music, people spoke about music like drinking a glass of water,” he said.

As a teen he worked on a dairy farm in Palmer and attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he studied agriculture. He eventually changed course to focus on music and left his home state for the West Coast in the 1960s.

Taj Mahal's signature is musical fusion, bringing together different genres from around the world to build on a foundation of blues to make a sound all his own. He has spent his life on what he calls his “own personal odyssey to connect up with my cousins.“ He achieved that by celebrating the music from his roots that stretch all over the world — from Nashville to Africa, Hawaii and the Caribbean.

At 76, Taj Mahal's not slowing down. He continues to tour, he says, because, “It’s what I’m meant to do.”

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