In March 2011, James Taylor was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President
Barak Obama in a ceremony at the White House. The medal is the nation's highest honor for
artistic excellence recognizing "outstanding achievements and support of the arts."
Taylor's music embodies the art of songwriting in its most fundamental form. He has been
at it for decades, transforming introspective meditations into lyrics, melodies, and
harmonies that comfort and reassure the listener with the sense that these sometimes
painful, sometimes celebratory moments are a part of life shared by us all. In 1971, Taylor
was featured on the cover of Time magazine, heralded as the harbinger of the
singer-songwriter era. Today, this quintessential singer-songwriter has seen that era cross
over into the 21st century.
As a recording and touring artist, Taylor has set a precedent and blazed a path to which
countless young musicians have aspired. His warm baritone is among the most recognized
voices in popular music and his guitar-playing has established its own standard.
Taylor has sold more than 50 million albums throughout his career, beginning in 1968 when
he was signed to The Beatles' Apple Records.
His songs have had a profound influence on both songwriters and music lovers of all
generations and from all walks of life: "Fire and Rain," "Country Road," "Something in the
Way She Moves," "Mexico," "Shower the People," "Your Smiling Face," "Carolina In My Mind,"
"Sweet Baby James," "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," "You Can Close Your Eyes," "Walking
Man," "Never Die Young," "Shed a Little Light," "Copperline," "Caroline I See You," and
Throughout his long career, Taylor has earned 40 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards
and five Grammy Awards for a catalog that runs from Sweet Baby James (1970) to
Hourglass (1997) and October Road (2002). His first Greatest
Hits album earned the Recording Industry Association of America's elite Diamond Award,
given for sales in excess of 10 million units in the US. For his artistic accomplishments,
Taylor was honored with the 1998 Century Award, Billboard magazine's highest
accolade, bestowed for distinguished creative achievement.
Taylor released Sweet Baby James in 1970. It went triple-platinum and spawned his
first Top 10 hit, the intensely personal "Fire and Rain." The following year saw the
release of another million-seller, Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, with the
No. 1 single "You've Got a Friend," written by his longtime friend Carole King. The
recording won a Grammy Award in 1971 for Best Pop Male Vocal. In 1972, Taylor scored
another gold album with One Man Dog, followed up in 1973 with Walking
The album Gorilla (1975) included two more major chart entries: "How Sweet It Is
(To Be Loved By You)" and "Mexico." Following his final Warner Brothers recording, In
the Pocket, Taylor moved on to Columbia Records and released a string of critically
praised and commercially successful albums: JT, his 1977 double-platinum Columbia
debut; Flag (1979); Dad Loves His Work (1981); That's Why I'm
Here (1985); Never Die Young (1988); New Moon Shine (1991); the
double-disc Live album (1993); Hourglass (1998), garnering Taylor his
first Grammy Award for Best Pop Album; and October Road (2002)-all certified
The year 2000 saw Taylor's induction into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the
prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
selected him as its MusiCares Person of the Year in 2006, and his One Man Band
(2007) was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Variety, Music, or
Comedy Special in 2008. Taylor's 2008 release, Covers, was nominated for two
Grammy Awards and lead to the aptly titled follow-up, Other Covers.
In May 2010, Taylor released the Live at the Troubadour CD/DVD of his November
2007 live performance with Carole King at the Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles. Their
subsequent Troubadour Reunion tour was one of the most successful concert tours of
the decade. Most recently, Morgan Neville's acclaimed documentary, Troubadours: The
Rise of the Singer-Songwriter was nominated for the Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance
Film Festival and was recently broadcast on PBS as part of its prestigious American
Taylor has received honorary doctorates of music from Williams College and the Berklee
School of Music. Raised in North Carolina, he now lives in western Massachusetts with his
wife Caroline and their sons Henry and Rufus.