Koko Taylor

Koko Taylor, a Grammy Award-winning blues singer, has died at 80. This was due to complications from her May 19 operation to treat a gastrointestinal bleed. Taylor, who is known as the “Queen of the Blues”, won her 29th Blues Music Award for Traditional Female Blues Artist Of The year. This made her the recipient of more Blues Music Awards that any other artist. She was awarded the NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award in 2004, which is one of the most prestigious honors bestowed on an American artist. The Grammy nomination for her most recent CD, Old School 2007, was given to her. Eight of her nine Alligator albums have been nominated. In 1984, she won a Grammy for her appearance as a guest on the compilation album Blues Explosion. Koko was born Cora Walton, on a farm near Memphis, TN on September 28, 1928. She is known for her love of chocolate and fell in love early with music. Inspiration came from gospel music and WDIA disc jockeys B.B. King and Rufus Thomas inspired Taylor to belt the blues along with her five siblings, who accompanied themselves on their own instruments. Taylor and Robert “Pops”, her soon-to be husband, traveled to Chicago in 1952 with only three dollars and one box of Ritz Crackers. Koko was the housekeeper and “Pops,” the packing company’s employee. They frequented the city’s blues clubs every night. Koko was encouraged by her husband to join the city’s top blues bands and became a popular guest artist. Willie Dixon approached Koko one evening in 1962. Koko’s performance overwhelmed Dixon, who offered Koko a Chess Records recording deal. Dixon produced several singles and two albums for her, as well as penned the million-selling 1965 song “Wang Dang Doodle,” which would be Taylor’s signature tune. Taylor was able to find a home in Chicago with Alligator Records, where she released the Grammy-nominated I Got What It Takes. Between 1978 and 2007, Taylor recorded eight more albums with Alligator, received seven Grammy nominations, and appeared on numerous tribute albums and albums. Koko was featured in the films Wild At Heart and Mercury Rising, as well as Blues Brothers 2000. Koko appeared on Late Night With David Letterman and Late Night With Conan O’Brien, CBS-TV’s This Morning and National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She also performed on CBS-TV’s Early Edition and many other regional television programs. Taylor has received many awards over her 40-plus year career. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley awarded Taylor the “Legend Of The Year Award” and designated March 3rd 1993 “Koko Taylor Day” in Chicago. In 1997, Taylor was inducted into The Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame. Chicago Magazine named Taylor “Chicagoan Of The year” a year later. In 1999, Taylor was awarded the Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Taylor was honored by Morgan Freeman at The Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., 2009 Koko Taylor was one the few female blues artists to achieve success in the male-dominated world. Koko Taylor took her music from Chicago’s South Side to major concert halls and festivals around the globe. She was a regular on the stages of every major blues artist, including Muddy waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and B.B. King, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, as well as rock icons Robert Plant u0026 Jimmy Page were among her many guests. Taylor performed her final performance in Memphis on May 7, 2009 at the Blues Music Awards. She sang “Wang Dang Doodle” following receiving her award as Traditional Blues Female Artist Of The year. From www.alligator.com

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