Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Paul Pena (born January 26, 1950 in Hyannis, Massachusetts) is a multi-genre singer, pianist, and guitarist, performing Mississippi Delta blues, jazz, flamenco, folk, rock and roll and Tuvan throat-singing.
In 1969 Paul played in the Newport Folk Festival. He also played in the T-Bone Walker Blues Band during the late 1960s and early 1970s, including an appearance in the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1972. He played bass guitar and provided backup vocals on Bonnie Raitt's debut album.
Paul's debut album was the self-titled Paul Pena and released by Capitol Records in 1972. His followup album New Train was recorded in 1973 by Bearsville Records and was produced by Ben Sidran (keyboardist for the Steve Miller Band). New Train featured Jerry Garcia, Merle Saunders, and The Persuasions. Albert Grossman , owner of Bearsville Records, stopped release of the record after a dispute with Paul.
Ben Sidran gave an unreleased copy of New Train to musician Steve Miller, who recorded a song from that album called Jet Airliner with the Steve Miller Band for the 1977 album Book of Dreams. The Jet Airliner single went to #8 on the charts.
New Train was finally released in 2000, 27 years after it was recorded.
Paul was intrigued by an example of Tuvan throat-singing he heard on a shortwave Radio Moscow broadcast. After the death of his wife he taught himself the vocal techniques called Khoomei, Sygyt and Kargyraa.
Paul was invited by famous Tuvan throatsinger Kongar-ol Ondar to sing in the second international Khoomei Symposium in 1995 in Kyzyl, Tuva. Paul placed first in the Kargyraa contest. Tuvans affectionately call Paul "Cher Shimjer" (Earthquake), based on the deepness of his voice.
In 1997 Paul was severely injured after his bedroom caught fire. He suffered smoke inhalation and was in coma for 4 days.
The 1999 film Genghis Blues documented Paul's journey to Tuva. It won the 1999 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for a Documentary. It was also nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 in the Best Documentary Feature category.
Paul has waged a long battle with pancreatic illness, and was originally mis-diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He began chemotherapy treatments and doctors gave him 6 months to live. In 2000 he was properly diagnosed with pancreatitis, a life-threatening, but not necessarily fatal illness.
- Paul Pena, released in 1972 by Capitol Records (currently out of print)
- New Train, recorded in 1973, released in 2000 by Hybrid Recordings
- Genghis Blues, released in 2000 by Six Degrees Records
- Stormy Monday, released in 1996, the T-Bone Walker Blues Band, by Delta Music. T-Bone Walker on vocals and guitar, Paul Pena on guitar, Recording is credited as 1968; it was most likely recorded in 1971.
- Fly Walker Airlines, the T-Bone Walker Blues Band, 1972 by Polydor Records. T-Bone Walker guitar and vocals; Paul Pena lead guitar and vocals. Recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival June 17 - June 20, 1972
Paul's official web site: http://www.paulpena.com/
Gengis Blues film site: http://www.genghisblues.com/index.html
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