Weekender

The art of the blues: Keb Mo’s lifelong love transforms pain into beauty

Kob Mo’s most recent record, “BLUESamericana” was nominated for a Grammy Award for best Americana album. “I want to make something that is heartfelt,” he said.
Kob Mo’s most recent record, “BLUESamericana” was nominated for a Grammy Award for best Americana album. “I want to make something that is heartfelt,” he said. Photo provided

Keb Mo is the blues. Ever since he was a child, he had a passion and the talent to immerse himself in the most American of music genres.

Mo’s most recent record, “BLUESamericana” was nominated for a Grammy Award for best Americana album (losing out to Johnny Cash’s daughter, Rosanne) and is a happy return to the grind that has defined his previous output.

“With every record, I want to make something that is heartfelt,” Mo said. “What makes each record different, including this one, is the period of your life that it was made. The writing and recording process has always been pretty much the same, but as you develop musically and develop in your life, what comes out of you is different and what you are trying to achieve is different.”

For Mo, the blues aren’t just a musical genre, it’s a legacy that exemplifies a culture and its historic and contemporary status. The blues — an American hallmark with a worldwide influence and appreciation — has the power to speak to anyone.

“What the blues really is is the coming together of different cultures in a kind of nasty way,” Mo said. “It’s a way of expressing a lifetime of pain that then turns into something beautiful. Really, the art of the blues is what’s most beautiful. It usually talks about a lot of uncomfortable things, but the subjects and the music itself is undeniable, and I think that’s why it has held up and has continued on. I use this beautiful art form that was created out of such pain to say certain things, and when it comes down to it, the blues are a pure, human emotion that comes out in a really authentic way.”

Given the pathos of the blues, Mo upholds this long and storied tradition. For his part, Mo is willing to ensure that this vital flame is never extinguished.

“I want to take the blues and give them a place of prosperity,” he said. “I want to bring them to an even better place, I don’t want to leave them where I found them.”

Seeing a musician perform live is the epitome of raw emotion, and it’s on the stage where Mo excels. His mesmerizing and endearing rendition of the blues is a startling jolt of energy. Next week’s “An Evening with Keb Mo” will certainly be a night that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

“I have always tried to deliver the best live show possible,” Mo said. “Everyone has something unique and special inside of themselves and I am just fortunate enough that I can share mine with people from a stage.”

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