LEWISTON – Musician Corey Harris, who played a key role in Martin Scorsese’s 2003 PBS television series “The Blues,” will perform at Bates College Friday, Feb. 29. Known for his intrepid explorations of blues, jazz, reggae and other genres, Harris is a member of the Bates class of 1991.

The public is invited at no cost to the 8 p.m. concert in Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St. – but tickets are required. Call 786-6135 or e-mail [email protected]

Recipient of an honorary doctor of music degree from Bates in 2007, Harris will return to the college for a seven-day residency that includes work with classes and individual students.

The musician also received a 2007 MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” He was described by the foundation as an artist who “forges an adventurous path marked by deliberate eclecticism. With one foot in tradition and the other in contemporary experimentation, he blends musical styles often considered separate and distinct to create something entirely new.”

“I’d like to call my music ‘diaspora rock,'” Harris told National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” “I’m looking at my people who are black around the world, seeing what unites us musically and trying to express that as a black American.”

Harris has played top venues, including the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Lincoln Center in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He has performed in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Japan and New Zealand.

In 2003, Harris was at the center of “Feel Like Going Home,” the debut episode of Scorsese’s PBS documentary series “The Blues.” For that episode, he traveled to Mali to play with Ali Farka Touré, a journey he repeated for his album “Mississippi to Mali,” 2003, in which he explored connections between African music and the blues.

Born in Colorado, Harris first tasted the blues from his mother’s collection of Lightnin’ Hopkins records. He began playing trumpet at age 5, and at 12 turned to guitar.

At Bates, Harris majored in anthropology and spent time in West Africa, completing a senior thesis on pidgin English in Cameroon. While at Bates, Harris won a prestigious postgraduate Watson Fellowship that supported another extended visit to Cameroon after graduation. His time in Africa has significantly influenced his work and his blues-based adaptations of African music have won national regard.

His first album, “Between Midnight and Day,” was released in 1995. His second, “Fish Ain’t Bitin’,” won the W.C. Handy Award for best acoustic blues album. Other releases include “Greens From the Garden,” 1999; “Vu-Du Menz,” 2000; and “Downhome Sophisticate,” 2002. In 2007, he released the widely acclaimed “Zion Crossroads,” which the magazine Global Rhythm called “one of the most vibrant reggae albums to be released this year.”

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