Taj Mahal (born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks on May 17, 1942) is an American blues musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and film composer. He plays the guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica, and many other instruments, often incorporating elements of world music into his work. Mahal has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his more than 50-year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa, India, Hawaii, and the South Pacific.
Mahal's first marriage was to Anna de Leon. He refers to Anna in the song "Texas Woman Blues" with the spoken words "Señorita de Leon, escucha mi canción." That marriage produced one daughter, the novelist and teacher Aya de Leon. Taj Mahal married Inshirah Geter on January 23, 1976 and together they have six children. His daughter Deva Mahal appeared on one episode of Dating Around.
Mahal was born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, Jr. on May 17, 1942, in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York. Growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts, he was raised in a musical environment: his mother was a member of a local gospel choir and his father, Henry Saint Clair Fredericks Sr., was an Afro-Caribbean jazz arranger and piano player. His family owned a shortwave radio which received music broadcasts from around the world, exposing him at an early age to world music. Early in childhood he recognized the stark differences between the popular music of his day and the music that was played in his home. He also became interested in jazz, enjoying the works of musicians such as Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Milt Jackson. His parents came of age during the Harlem Renaissance, instilling in their son a sense of pride in his Caribbean and African ancestry through their stories.Because his father was a musician, his home frequently hosted other musicians from the Caribbean, Africa, and the US. His father was called "The Genius" by Ella Fitzgerald before starting his family. Early on, Henry Jr. developed an interest in African music, which he studied assiduously as a young man. His parents encouraged him to pursue music, starting him out with classical piano lessons. He also studied the clarinet, trombone and harmonica.When Henry Jr. was eleven years old, his father was killed in an accident at his construction company, crushed by a tractor when it flipped over. It was an extremely traumatic experience for the boy. Mahal's mother later remarried. His stepfather owned a guitar which Henry Jr. began using at age 13 or 14, receiving his first lessons from a new neighbor from North Carolina of his own age who played acoustic blues guitar. His name was Lynwood Perry, the nephew of the famous bluesman Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup. In high school Henry Jr. sang in a doo-wop group.For some time he thought of pursuing farming over music. His passion began on a dairy farm in Palmer, Massachusetts, not far from Springfield, at age 16. By 19, he had become farm foreman. "I milked anywhere between thirty-five and seventy cows a day. I clipped udders. I grew corn. I grew Tennessee redtop clover. Alfalfa." Mahal believes in growing one's own food, saying, "You have a whole generation of kids who think everything comes out of a box and a can, and they don't know you can grow most of your food." Because of his personal support of the family farm, Mahal regularly performs at Farm Aid concerts.Henry chose his stage name, Taj Mahal, from dreams he had about Mahatma Gandhi, India, and social tolerance. He started using the stage name in 1959 or 1961—around the same time he began attending the University of Massachusetts. Despite having attended a vocational agriculture school, becoming a member of the National FFA Organization, and majoring in animal husbandry and minoring in veterinary science and agronomy, Mahal decided to pursue music instead of farming. In college he led a rhythm and blues band called Taj Mahal & The Elektras. Before heading for the U.S. West Coast, he was also part of a duo with Jessie Lee Kincaid.
Movies & TV shows
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band
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Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World
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2 Movies · 1 TV show
Shake 'Em On Down
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The American Epic Sessions
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ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2014
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This Ain't No Mouse Music!
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All My Friends - Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman
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1 TV show
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
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Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life
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1 TV show
The Blues is a 2003 documentary film series produced by Martin Scorsese, dedicated to the history of blues music. In each of the seven episodes, a different director explores a stage in the developmen...
After being denied a promotion at the university where she teaches, Doctor Penleric, a brilliant musicologist, impulsively visits her sister, who runs a struggling rural school. There is a treasure tr...
A drama revolving around a group of strangers brought together by a common occurrence as well as listening to the same radio station.
Small-time drug dealer Al Dean is out for the ultimate score. But when Al and his friends adopt a pig, their laid-back summer plans get baked. Set in the '70s, Scrapple is a Colorado ski-town story of...
Six Days Seven Nights
Quinn, a grouchy pilot living the good life in the South Pacific, agrees to transfer a savvy fashion editor, Robin, to Tahiti, but he ends up stranded on a deserted island with her after their plane c...
Blue Note - A Story of Modern Jazz
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2 Movies · 1 TV show
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The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus
A 1968 event put together by The Rolling Stones. The film is comprised of two concerts on a circus stage and included such acts as The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and Jethro Tull. John Lennon ...
Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored
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1 TV show
Duckman: Private Dick/ Family Man is an American animated sitcom that aired from 1994 to 1997. The sitcom is based on a Dark Horse comic. The series was produced by Reno & Osborn for Paramount Network...
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
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1 Movie · 2 TV shows
Austin City Limits
The event has popular music legends and innovative musicians.
Saturday Night Live
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Fighting for Our Lives
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The Morgans, a loving and strong family of Black sharecroppers in Louisiana in 1933, face a serious family crisis when the husband and father, Nathan Lee Morgan, is convicted of a crime and sent to a ...
1 TV show
The Flip Wilson Show
The Flip Wilson Show is a variety show that aired in the U.S. NBC aired from September 17, 1970 to June 27, 1974. One of the first American television programs starring a black person in the title rol...
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Taj_Mahal_(musician)", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.