Stuart’s Concert Series Hosting Renowned Blues Revivalist

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Stuart's Opera House continues its Free Summer Concert Series this Friday with a show from noted singer-songwriter and blues revivalist Corey Harris.

Harris is a musician whose projects link music of the African diaspora, from American blues to reggae to West African roots.

He was also the recipient of the half-million dollar 2007 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as the "genius grant." The reason given was that his music "forges an adventurous path marked by deliberate eclecticism."

That same year, he was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in music from his alma mater, Bates College. 

Harris' path started in Colorado, where, as a pre-teen, he learned to play the guitar and discovered Lightnin' Hopkins' music.

After street singing in New Orleans and earning a degree in Anthropology, he received a language studies fellowship and lived in Cameroon for a year, where he became enthralled by the music of West Africa.

In 1995, at the age of 26, Harris released his debut album, Between Midnight and Day, a collection of traditional acoustic blues material attributed to the greats of the genre, such as Charlie Patton, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Sleepy John Estes.

With his next album, Greens from the Garden, Harris included some of his own compositions. Mississippi To Mali, released in 2003 and recorded in the fields of Mississippi and Mali, runs the gamut from straight-ahead acoustic blues to collaborations with the great Malian guitarist Ali Farke Toure.

This project, along with his work as the narrator and featured artist on Martin Scorcese's The Blues, a documentary that traces the blues from their roots in West Africa to the American South, allowed Harris to connect the music that he knew and loved.

Besides Ali Farka Toure, Harris has recorded, performed or toured with Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Dave Matthews, Natalie Merchant and Wilco.

Most recently, he was featured on the 2013 Telarc album True Blues, recorded with his contemporaries Alvin Youngblood Hart, Guy Davis and Phil Wiggins at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. In the liner notes of that album, Harris states "This is the legacy that was left to me, so it's my responsibility as a black man, as a musician, to transmit this story so that my children and future generations have it and draw strength from it."

Friday's performance gets underway at 7 p.m. in the Stuart's Opera House parking lot, just off Nelsonville's Public Square. The show, which is part of the town's Final Fridays celebration, is free of charge. Visit www.stuartsoperahouse.org for more information.