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Paul Pena


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Paul Pena (born in Hyannis, Massachusetts, on January 26, 1950; died on October 1, 2005) was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist of Cape Verdean descent. From the first half of his career Pena’s music touched on Delta blues, jazz, morna, flamenco, folk and rock and roll. Pena is probably best-known for writing the song “Jet Airliner,” a major 1977 hit for the Steve Miller Band and a staple of classic rock radio; and for appearing in the 1999 documentary film Genghis Blues, wherein he displayed his abilities in the field of Tuvan throat singing.

Pena was the oldest child of Jack and Virginia Pena. His grandparents came from the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa. He was born with congenital glaucoma. When he was five, he began school at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown (a suburb of Boston). He graduated in 1967 and then attended Clark University in Worcester, MA.

As a young child, Pena showed his talent for music. His mother heard him picking out melodies and chords on a baby grand piano that had been found in the town dump and brought home, ‘as a toy that a blind child might enjoy.’ He developed ‘perfect pitch.’ Soon Pena was studying the piano, guitar, upright bass, violin and ‘a little trumpet.’ He played and sang popular jazz and Cape Verdian ballads with his father, a professional jazz musician, and also sang in his school choruses. Pena appeared in a talent show, and while in college, performed in coffeehouses in Worcester.


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  • Von-666

    A legend!

    15 Sep 2013 Reply
  • BallerCraig

    You're a hero of mine, I miss you. So unique songs.

    10 Sep 2013 Reply
  • bernarducs

    the 1972 album is simply masterpiece

    25 Aug 2013 Reply
  • Huffstuff420

    No, I totally thought he sounds like Bob Seger too!

    29 Jun 2012 Reply
  • djboe11

    As stupid and backwards as this may sound, he sounds like Bob Seger. Except Mr. Pena can destroy on the ol guitar.

    25 Jul 2011 Reply
  • phbenito

    Saw him perform with the Tuvan throatsinger, Kongar-Ol- Ondar, in San Francisco in 1999 when the Genghis Blues album and documentary first came out . The combo was pretty amazing! Like @battleaxed said below, if you like Paul Pena and you like Tuvan throat singing, the you've got to see the documentary:

    3 Mar 2011 Reply
  • SlipperShuffle

    has a little somethin somethin

    8 Dec 2010 Reply
  • Pomkaq

    It's because Taylor Hicks covered Gonna Move

    14 Aug 2010 Reply
  • nooneastern

    really odd that Taylor Hicks is the #! similar artist here ...

    27 Jul 2010 Reply
  • battleaxed

    Has anyone ever seen the 'Ghengis Blues' documentary? If not you should def get your hands on it.

    29 Sep 2009 Reply
  • miloskroulik

    Probably best bluesman I know. His guitar playing is unbelievable (and it is even more amazing, considering he is blind).

    6 Apr 2009 Reply
  • acoustyk

    Fantastic soul sound

    26 Oct 2008 Reply
  • EithCubes

    Unbelievable (and practically unknown) talent!

    22 Aug 2008 Reply
  • Phillyzero

    All about New Train.

    25 Nov 2007 Reply

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