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Koko Taylor, “Queen of the Blues” 1928 – 2009

Posted in A Day in the Life, Celebrities | No Comments »

Koko Taylor, Queen of the Blues

Koko Taylor, 80 year-old Grammy Award-winning blues legend, died on June 3, 2009 in her hometown of Chicago, IL, as a result of post-surgical complications. On May 7, 2009, the critically acclaimed Taylor, known worldwide as the “Queen of the Blues,” won her 29th Blues Music Award (for Traditional Female Blues Artist Of The Year), making her the recipient of more Blues Music Awards than any other artist. In 2004 she received the NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award, which is among the highest honors given to an American artist. Her most recent CD, 2007’s Old School, was nominated for a Grammy (eight of her nine Alligator albums were Grammy-nominated). She won a Grammy in 1984 for her guest appearance on the compilation album Blues Explosion on Atlantic.

Born Cora Walton on a sharecropper’s farm just outside Memphis, TN, on September 28, 1928, Koko, nicknamed for her love of chocolate, fell in love with music at an early age. Inspired by gospel music and WDIA blues disc jockeys B.B. King and Rufus Thomas, Taylor began belting the blues with her five brothers and sisters, accompanying themselves on their homemade instruments. n 1952, Taylor and her soon-to-be-husband, the late Robert “Pops” Taylor, traveled to Chicago with nothing but, in Koko’s words, “thirty-five cents and a box of Ritz Crackers.”

In Chicago, “Pops” worked for a packing company, and Koko cleaned houses. Together they frequented the city’s blues clubs nightly. Encouraged by her husband, Koko began to sit in with the city’s top blues bands, and soon she was in demand as a guest artist. One evening in 1962 Koko was approached by arranger/composer Willie Dixon. Overwhelmed by Koko’s performance, Dixon landed Koko a Chess Records recording contract, where he produced her several singles, two albums and penned her million-selling 1965 hit “Wang Dang Doodle,” which would become Taylor’s signature song.

Koko Taylor was one of very few women who found success in the male-dominated blues world. She took her music from the tiny clubs of Chicago’s South Side to concert halls and major festivals all over the world. She shared stages with every major blues star, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy as well as rock icons Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Obituary adapted from KokoTaylor.com



Koko Taylor – I Cried Like A Baby

How Do You Choose to Show Up in the World?

Posted in A Day in the Life, Indie Music | 1 Comment »

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Last night I attended a special Artist’s Success Salon, featuring my dear friend and publicist, Ariel Hyatt, and entertainment industry Certified Results Coach Debra Russell. As these two powerful women shared their insights on how musicians can become successful, and actually make a living make music, there was much discussion on how we unconsciously block ourselves from success. We often see challenges to our success as events that occur outside of us, but really, success is an inside job.

We might not like to think about it, but we are the only ones in the way of our success. Related to my last blog post inspired by Derek Sivers, we broadcast to the world how we feel about our worthiness through our actions, and inactions: Were we prepared for that audition or gig? Did we show up on time? Were we fully present and accountable? Did we follow up on that great connection? Did we consciously create memorable moments during a performance? It’s the little things that we do well day-by-day that gain momentum and lead us to the bigger opportunities.

So ask yourself: “How do YOU choose to show up in the world?”

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

From Return to Love by Marianne Williamson