For more than 50 years, Springfield native Taj Mahal has nearly singlehandedly reshaped the definition and scope of the blues via the infusion of exotic sounds from the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific. Mahal’s first band, the Rising Sons, was formed in 1964 in L.A. and opened for many high-profile artists of the 60s including Otis Redding and the Temptations, while at the same time, Mahal mingled with various blues legends. The diversity of experience served as the bedrock of Mahal’s first three recordings, Taj Mahal (1967), The Natch’ Blues (1968) and Giant Step (1969). Drawing on the eclectic sounds that he absorbed as a child and young adult, these recordings showed signs of the musical exploration that would become Mahal’s hallmark throughout his career.
Mahal has been nominated for nine GRAMMY® Awards throughout his career and taken home two for Señor Blues (1997) and Shoutin’ in Key (2000). In 2014 he was honored in Nashville with the Lifetime Achievement for Performance Award at the 13th Annual Americana Honors and Awards. “What inspires me most about my career is that I’ve been able to make a living playing the music that I always loved and wanted to play since the early 50s,” Mahal says. “And the fact that I still am involved in enjoying an exciting career at this point in time is truly priceless.”