After featuring Carole King last week, today’s artist is a natural successor as James Taylor (1948 – ) enjoyed his first US No. 1 hit in 1971 with his recording of You’ve Got a Friend, written by Carole King. He’s currently finishing a Covid-interrupted Tour but Nice isn’t on his schedule.
Like Carole King, his music embodies the art of songwriting in its most personal and universal forms. He is a master at describing specific, even autobiographical situations, in a way that resonates with people everywhere. In 1971, Taylor was on the cover of Time magazine, heralded as the harbinger of the singer-songwriter era. Five decades later, his warm baritone, introspective lyrics and unique style of guitar playing still blaze a path to which young musicians aspire.
Taylor has sold more than 100 million albums, earning gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards since the release of his self-titled debut album in 1968. He has won multiple Grammy Awards, has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll and the prestigious Songwriters Halls of Fame and was also honoured by The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
In a career marked by artistic triumphs, the past several years for Taylor have been notable for both creative virtuosity and recognition of exceptional achievement. In 2011, Taylor was honored with a Carnegie Hall Perspectives series, which consisted of four concert evenings presented by Carnegie Hall and featuring Taylor and personally selected musical guests. In 2011 he was also awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama and, in 2012, he was awarded the distinguished Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. Both medals are their Nation’s highest honors for artistic excellence recognizing “outstanding achievements and support of the arts.” In 2015 Taylor was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor and in 2016 he received the Kennedy Center Honors, which are presented annually to individuals who have enriched American culture by distinguished achievement in the performing arts.
In 2015, Taylor released Before This World, his first new studio album in thirteen years, which earned him his first-ever #1 album on the Billboard Charts and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album. In early 2020 Taylor released his audio-only Audible Original titled Break Shot, a deeply personal and authentic memoir detailing his first 21 years. He also released his newest album, American Standard, his 19th studio album, which earned Taylor the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album and gave him the honour of being the first artist to have a Billboard Top 10 album in each of the past six decades – not bad!