Koko Taylor: Blues Journey

Daughter of a sharecropper, blues singer Koko Taylor began her career in blues clubs in Chicago. She later went on to perform almost 70 concerts a year in her late-career and became known as one of the Queens of Blues, winning her 29th Blues Music Award in 2009. She also appeared in many tv shows and films such as Arther and Wild At Heart. She accumulated many more achievements in her lifetime, having a long life of 81 years and a long musical career of over 40 years.

Named after her love of chocolate, Koko fell in love with music in a music-filled family. She began singing blues with her five brothers and sisters all with their homemade instruments. Leaving Tennessee at 24 years old, her husband encouraged her to sing at blues clubs, and in turn, she started to gain traction. She started to be a sought-after performing guest. One night, she caught the attention of one Willie Dixon, a popular arranger and composer. Dixon secured her a contract with Chess Records, where she ended up recording her hit song “Wang Dang Doodle.” When Chess Records got sold, Koko found a spot on Alligator Records, where her Grammy-nominated song “I Got What it Takes” was recorded and released.

Koko received countless awards over the span of her career. She was awarded the “Legend Of The Year” Award in 1993, and in 1997, the singer was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, and a quick year later was named Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine, and the next year received the Blues Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

Koko’s journey started from humble beginnings and took a lot of talent, hard work, and a little bit of luck to get her the major success she had. She made it far in a widely male-dominated industry. From being inspired by artists like B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf, so sharing the stage with them later in her career, she is an example of making dreams come true. Taylor’s last performance was in May 2009 in Memphis at the Blues Music Awards, where she sang her signature song “Wang Dang Doodle” after receiving the award for Traditional Blues Female Artist Of The Year.

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