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Corey Harris , (February 21, 1969), is an American blues anthropologist and musician born in Denver, Colorado.
Harris was born in Denver, Colorado, on February 21, 1969, and began playing the guitar at age 12, after listening to Lightnin’s ‘Hopkins’ records of his mother. He played in a rock & amp; He played in high school, and developed his singing skills in his church. He did university studies at Bates College in Maine (where he specialized in anthropology). Then Harris traveled to Cameroon to study African linguistics; during his stay there, he absorbed as much African music as possible, allowing himself to be seduced by his complex polyrhythms. After returning to the United States, Harris taught English and French in Napoleonville, Louisiana, and during his free time he played in the clubs, cafes and corners of nearby New Orleans.
He achieved a certain local reputation that won him a contract with Alligator Records. In 1995, Alligator released Harris’ debut album, “Between Midnight and Day,” with only his guitar that illustrated his mastery of various variations in the Delta blues style. The album included versions of Sleepy John Estes, Fred McDowell, Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters, and Bukka White. The album had good reviews pointing to Harris as a new promise in the blues scene. This allowed him to act as support for the ex-singer of 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant.
Their next album was ‘Fish Is not Bitin’, released in 1997, an album that extended the accompaniment by adding a New Orleans-style wind section on several tracks, while emphasizing their own original compositions.
In 1999, Harris released the album Greens from the Garden that most critics considered his best album until then. The album was a great success and delved into the funk and the R & amp; B from New Orleans. The result was a kaleidoscope of black musical styles that gave Harris more widespread attention by a wider audience that he began to see as the heir of Taj Mahal. With one of the collaborators on the previous album, the veteran pianist Henry Butler, recorded a duet album, published in 2000, entitled ‘Vu-Du Menz’, in which he approached jazz and primitive blues.
Harris then left Alligator for the Rounder label, and debuted for his new label in 2002 with ‘Downhome Sofisticate’, an eclectic album that explored his African influences and added Latin music to his sound palette. Two other albums followed in Rounder, the wonderful ‘Mississippi to Mali’ in 2003 and ‘Daily Bread’ in 2005, which established him as one of the best contemporary acoustic bluesman.
In 2003, Harris was a featured artist and narrator of the Martin Scorcese film, ‘Feel Like Going Home’, from the acclaimed PBS television series, “The Blues,” which traced the evolution of the blues from the West of Africa south of the USA In 2007, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship – “Genius award” – from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The annual scholarship, which recognizes individuals from a wide range of disciplines that show creativity, originality and commitment to continuous innovative work, described Harris as an artist who “forges an adventurous path marked by a deliberate eclecticism”.
Continuing his musical exploration, Harris returned to Jamaica and reggae roots for his next album, ‘Zion Crossroads’, which was released in 2007 on Telarc Records. A second album in Telarc, ‘Blu Black’, appeared in 2009 with Harris continuing in the orbit of Jamaican music. In 2013 he published ‘Fulton Blues’ in which Harris returns to the interpretation of his hybrid forms of blues in an interesting set of themes.
Corey Harris currently lives in Virginia, touring frequently and extolling the classic African tradition of blues music; likewise, he has organized several programs on several radio stations in the central Virginia area.
Corey helped Billy Bragg and Wilco to compose the music of the song “Hoodoo Voodoo” for the album “Mermaid Avenue”, which consisted of songs whose lyrics had been written by Woody Guthrie; He also collaborated as a musician on that record and later, “Mermaid Avenue Vol. II”. Corey received, in 2007, an honorary doctorate from Bates College.
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