Introduction and Early Life:
James Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and musician. Often considered “confessional”, his songwriting style deals with the emotions related to human relationships and personal loss, and he possessed a calm, understated singing approach. In a career spanning almost five decades, Taylor has sold more than 20 million records across the world.
Born “James Vernon Taylor” in Boston, Massachusetts in 1948, his father was a resident physician while his mother was an aspiring opera singer who studied singing at the New England Conservatory of Music. Taylor developed an early interest in music and learned to play the cello as a child. He later switched to guitar and soon started playing coffeehouses and folk clubs with his partner, Danny Kortchmar.
Career and Musical Achievements:
One of the most important “confessional” singer-songwriters in history, James Taylor’s songwriting style – primarily addressing topics such as personal loss, personal relationships and family – proved to be a major influence on later artists, from Garth Brooks to John Mayer.
Taylor’s 1970 release, Sweet Baby James, established him as one of the most prominent music artists of his time. Much of his music, for instance pop classic “Fire and Rain”, contained jazz influences. Taylor’s later work since Sweet Baby James comprised of original songs, together with new versions of his past hits from the 1950s and 1960s such as “Handy Man” and “Devoted to You.”
Taylor recorded a number of duets with his then wife, Carly Simon, and “Devoted to You” was one such performance. Throughout his career, he stood out from his confessional songwriting peers because of his unusual depth and strong sense of melody. A few fine examples of these qualities include That Lonesome Road (1981), Native Son (1991), and Jump up Behind Me (1997).
Taylor released his Greatest Hits album in 1976 and it remains his bestselling album to this day. He has been described as “the forerunner of the singer-songwriter era” by Time magazine.
Awards and Accolades:
James Taylor won numerous awards and accolades in his career. A few of them include five Grammys and one Emmy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in the same year (2000). Taylor was honored as “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the Ministry of Culture & Communication of France in 2012.
Taylor married fellow singer Carly Simon in 1972. The couple divorced in 1983, citing irreconcilable differences. They had two children together, namely Sarah Maria Taylor and Benjamin Simon Taylor. Both of his children have launched successful careers in music.
Taylor married actress Kathryn Walker in 1985.