En route to Bates, Corey Harris ’91 talks with New Hampshire paper

Shown in a 2013 Concert on the Quad at Bates, Corey Harris '91 brings his distinctive brand of roots music back to Bates on Sept. 24. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Shown in a 2013 Concert on the Quad at Bates, Corey Harris ’91 brings his distinctive brand of roots music back to Bates on Sept. 24. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Heading to New England for concerts that include a Bates stop on Sept. 24, singer-songwriter Corey Harris ’91 checked in with a seacoastonline.com reporter in advance of a show at Portsmouth’s Music Hall.

Music writer Christopher Hislop queried Harris about his musical range, which encompasses such Africa Diaspora genres as blues, reggae, and jazz. As Harris represents so many styles in his sound, Hislop wondered, “how does ‘life’ find its way into your storytelling?”

Harris replied, “I express the reality of my past, present, and future as an African living in the Western Hemisphere. Life finds its way intro one’s music in the same way that it is in one’s everyday words and actions.”

Harris launched his musical career not long after graduating from Bates, starting out with a tight focus on the blues that’s still at the heart of his music. He has some 15 recordings in his catalog, and in 2003 was the central figure in the opening episode of a multi-part Martin Scorsese documentary about the blues.

Harris, whose musical career brings him back to Bates every few years, received an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from the college in 2007. That same year, he was honored with a MacArthur “genius grant.”

But perhaps more germane to his Bates appearance Sunday is the fact that, as a Bates graduate, Harris received a Watson Fellowship to study pidgin English in Cameroon, following up on his senior thesis topic. Sunday’s concert honors the 50 years that the Watson Foundation has offered fellowships to students at Bates and other select colleges and universities.

The concert is co-sponsored by the offices of the Dean of the Faculty and of College Advancement, and the departments of psychology and of French and francophone studies.

 

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