Cornbread Harris

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James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris, Sr.
chest high portrait in a black suit playing piano
Harris performing at the Mill City Farmers Market in 2010
Born (1927-04-23) April 23, 1927 (age 87)
Occupation Musician

James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris, Sr. (born April 23, 1927) is an American musician. He is a singer and pianist who performs in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[1] He was a performer on Minnesota's first rock 'n' roll record, and is the father of record producer Jimmy "Jam" Harris.[1]

Family and early years[edit]

When his father was shot while gambling and his mother died of grieving, Harris was orphaned at age 3. He lived with foster families until he was 11 or 12 when he and his sister went to live with his grandparents in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has been married four times. One of his daughters died. He is the father of Jimmy Jam (James Harris III) who produced records for Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and Usher.[1]

Country music was an early influence, and Hank Williams and Gene Autry are among his early favorites.[2]

Later career[edit]

At left man in his thirties plays piano, man in the middle is in his seventies also playing piano, man at right in his twenties or thirties playing a snare drum. On the Mississippi waterfront
Cornbread Harris (center) sings "Deeper Blues" at Minneapolis downtown's National Night Out 2010 with Cadillac Kolstad and Johann Swenson

Harris helped invent Augie Garcia's "Hi Yo Silver," a 1955 song that was Minnesota's first rock 'n' roll recording. He performed on the record, which he called a one-hit wonder[1] (although Garcia is remembered as the godfather of Minnesota rock 'n' roll[3]).

Harris was in the U.S. military and later worked for about 25 years for American Hoist & Derrick.[1]

His repertoire includes blues and jazz and in his eighties, Harris still plays Minneapolis nightclubs[4] including the Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown, Clubhouse Jäger in the North Loop and Palmer's[5] and the Nomad World Pub on the West Bank.[6]

Harris is a mentor to Cadillac Kolstad and City Pages calls them the "must-see dueling-piano act in town".[5]


The "Blues Legend Award" [7]

The Sally Awards [8] [9][10] [11]


  1. ^ a b c d e Riemenschneider, Chris (April 20, 2006). "Past is present for Cornbread Harris". The Star Tribune. Retrieved August 7, 2010. 
  2. ^ "August 7: Entertainment". Mill City Farmers Market. Retrieved August 7, 2010. 
  3. ^ Keller, Martin (2007). Music Legends: A Rewind on the Minnesota Music Scene. D Media. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-9787956-1-0. 
  4. ^ Keller, Martin (2007). Music Legends: A Rewind on the Minnesota Music Scene. D Media. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-9787956-1-0. 
  5. ^ a b Patrin, Nate (March 24, 2010). "Cadillac vs. Cornbread". City Pages (Village Voice). Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Calendar". Cornbread Harris. Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  7. ^ - Minnesota Blues Society awarded to James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris, Sr. - inducted in the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame in 2012.
  8. ^ James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris Sr., local legend Twin Cities musician, won a Sally Award at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. Harris, 87, is a pianist, composer, singer and father of legendary music producer Jimmy "Jam" Harris, Jr. - See more at:
  9. ^ ‘Cornbread’ Harris among Sally Award winners. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  10. ^ Sally Award winner James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris Sr - 22nd Annual Sally Awards. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  11. ^ The Ordway Announces 2013 Sally Award Winners. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from

External links[edit]