Q&A with Chicago blues singer Demetria Taylor -the daughter of Eddie Taylor- traditional blues and modern R&B

"I miss the old legends that came before me. It’s really the reason why I chose to crossover to the sound I have on my album, because the sound is not the same. Music today is totally different from the music back then, but I love both."

Demetria Taylor: Born To Sing The Blues

Demetria Taylor is the daughter of the late blues legend Eddie Taylor Sr. and is helping keep the legacy of her father alive. Eddie is best known as the rhythm guitarist in the band of Jimmy Reed, but he also had his own solo career and recorded some wonderful sides for the VJ label including the classic “Bad Boy”. Her mother Vera Taylor was also a blues singer. Demetria has fond memories of blues greats and friends of the family coming by the house including Floyd Jones, Carey Bell, Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Littlejohn, Sam Lay, Willie Kent, Tail Dragger, Eddie Shaw, Johnny B. Moore and Magic Slim. Born in Chicago, Demetria grew up surrounded by Blues music listening on records to her biggest influences including Etta James, Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton and most importantly, “The Queen of The Blues” Koko Taylor (no relation to her family).

(Demetria Taylor, 2022 / Photo © by David Tepper)

Demetria Taylor's new album ‘Doin’ What I’m Supposed to Do’ (2022) released on Delmark Records. The songs on Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do are a balance of traditional blues and modern R&B, with some written by her family, some by fellow musicians Mike Wheeler and Larry Williams, one by the venerable Magic Sam, and two by Demetria herself. This second Delmark record is a strong follow up to her Delmark debut, Bad Girl, which was nominated as best new artist debut in the 2012 Blues Music Awards. This much-anticipated new recording features the superior support from label mates Mike Wheeler Band and guitar star Carlos Showers, who often back her at her frequent gigs. Very special guests include the legendary vocalist Deitra Farr on “Blues Early This Morning”, written by Demetria’s mom Vera Taylor; and guitarist Billy Flynn, who supplies his amazing guitar work on the aforementioned track, in addition to her dad, Eddie Taylor’s “83 Highway.” Demetria Taylor is awarded the prestigious “KoKo Taylor Queen of the Blues” award from the Jus’ Blues Foundation. As Demetria says, and we believe her: “It’s my time”.

Interview by Michael Limnios         Special Thanks: Kevin Johnson & Delmark Records

How has the Blues music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

For me it’s been a wonderful experience. Being a national and international artist has been amazing. My outlook on the world is that I think that the blues really changed the world. I love being a part of the blues industry and touring around the world and seeing different places. I’m looking forward to going back out on tour soon.

Why do you think that the Delmark Records continues to generate such a devoted following?

Because Delmark believes in their artists and puts the work in for the artists and does the best that they can for every artist, whether the audience is young or old. Delmark definitely believes in their artists and I am happy to be a part of the Delmark family. Big thanks to Julia & Elbio and the whole staff for going with me to accept my Jus' Blues Koko Taylor award, and for supporting my new album and it’s doing great.

"Hopes - for the world to accept me as an artist and my music, to receive me and be successful. I just have hopes, I don’t have any fears." (Photo: Demetria Taylor & the late great "Queen of the Blues" Koko Taylor)

Which meetings have been the most important experiences?

Koko Taylor “You can’t be scared, you gotta open your own mouth and sing.” And that she said “I reminded myself of her when she was younger.”

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

My memories from gigs are going to see all the legends that passed away like Willie Kent, Big Time Sarah, Bonnie Lee, Jimmy Burns, Jimmy Johnson & my brother Eddie Taylor Jr. In jams, I miss Blues On Halsted - The Platinum Band, Chico Banks and Chicago’s Most Wanted (now lead by Big Ray Stewart). Opening acts, it was fun for me when I first started at Buddy Guy’s, opening for Billy Branch, Jimmy Johnson, Vino Louden. Opening acts made me what I am, and now I’m a headliner!

Studio sessions - 12 years ago the first one with the All Star Chicago Band (Big Time Sarah, EG McDaniel, Shun Kukuda, Eddie Taylor Junior, Roosevelt Purifoy, Pookie Styx, Billie Branch, Luke Pytel, working with these guys on my first album was the most memories I will forever carry with me. They were fun, patient, and showed love in the studio. From the second album — pure love with the Mike Wheeler Band, Pookie on drums, Deitra Farr, Billy Flynn.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

The late great Big Time Sarah: “Never give up on yourself or your dreams, and always believe in yourself.”

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past?

I miss the old legends that came before me. It’s really the reason why I chose to crossover to the sound I have on my album, because the sound is not the same. Music today is totally different from the music back then, but I love both.

What are your hopes and fears for the future of blues?

Hopes - for the world to accept me as an artist and my music, to receive me and be successful. I just have hopes, I don’t have any fears.

What is the impact of Blues on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the blues music to affect people?                 (Demetria Taylor, 2022 / Photo © by David Tepper)

I want people and other cultures to love my music. I’ve put in a lot of work over the years, and I hope to reach all cultures.

"Because Delmark believes in their artists and puts the work in for the artists and does the best that they can for every artist, whether the audience is young or old. Delmark definitely believes in their artists and I am happy to be a part of the Delmark family. Big thanks to Julia & Elbio and the whole staff for going with me to accept my Jus' Blues Koko Taylor award, and for supporting my new album and it’s doing great."

What would you say characterizes Chicago blues scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits?

I love all music scenes, but Chicago has a unique style. I can tell Chicago musicians from anywhere. When I went to Tunica for my awards ceremony, the band was great, but totally different from the Chicago sound, but still great.

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

For me, you have to stand up for what you believe in and be tough. Believe in yourself and stay in it to win. Because men will definitely push you around if you let them.

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