Often called the "Queen of the Blues," Koko Taylor (nee Cora Walton) was born 75 years ago in a sharecropper's cabin at the edge of a cotton plantation in southwestern Tennessee. Even though her father encouraged her to perform only gospel music, Koko and her siblings would sneak out and play the blues on homemade instruments, including a guitar made with baling wire and a fife fashioned from a corncob. When she was eighteen, Koko (given that name as a child due to her love of chocolate) moved with her soon-to-be husband Robert "Pop" Taylor to Chicago. It was not long before she was sitting in with legendary blues musicians in Chicago's lively club scene. In 1962 Willie Dixon recognized her talent and procured for her a Chess recording contract. She recorded the million selling hit "Wang Dang Doodle" in 1965.
Her vocal power and stage presence, drawing on such forbears as Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace, and Alberta Hunter, has carried her through four decades of recording and live performance. She has received 19 W.C. Handy Awards, more than any other female blues artist, and six of her last seven Alligator albums have been nominated for Grammy Awards. In 1993 Chicago Mayor Richard A. Daley honored Taylor with a "Legend of the Year Award" and declared "Koko Taylor Day" throughout Chicago. The Blues Foundation bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on her in 1999.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency
Sample: "Mother Nature"
Sample: "Hound Dog"