Denver, Colorado native Corey Harris began playing guitar as a twelve year old with inspiration from his Mother’s Lightnin’ Hopkins records. Harris honed his skills with the high school marching band and a rock band to go along with his singing in church.
After attending college in Maine, Harris travelled to Cameroon to study African linguistics, and returned again on a fellowship. Influenced greatly by African music, Harris began to busk and play in clubs on his return to the US when he took a Teaching America job in Louisiana. Alligator records signed him to a recording contract and released his first record, a one man effort that demonstrated his mastery of several delta blues styles.
Corey Harris expanded his sound with his second record. Fish Ain’t Bitin’ added New Orleans brass and a greater emphasis on original compositions. The album won the 2018 W.C. Handy award for best acoustic blues album.
Corey Harris was invited by Billy Bragg and Wilco to participate in the Mermaid Avenue project where the artists added music and performance to lyrics written by Woody Guthrie. Harris appeared on both volumes.
Harris was the featured artist and narrator for the first episode of the Martin Scorsese documentary series The Blues. Feel Like Going Home traced the evolution of the blues from West Africa to the southern US. In 2007 he was awarded a MacArthur scholarship with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation describing Harris as an artist who “forges an adventurous path marked by deliberate eclecticism.”
With his 20th album Insurrection Blues, Harris has returned to his acoustic blues roots with an album that is relevant to today but steeped in tradition.