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Fri, 07.30.1948

Otis Taylor, Musician born

Otis Taylor

*Otis Taylor was born on this date in 1948. He is a Black blues musician. He is a multi-instrumentalist whose talents include the guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and vocals.

Otis Taylor was born in Chicago and moved at a young age to Denver, Colorado, where he grew up. He originally grew up playing the banjo, but his father wanted him to be a jazz musician. Upon hearing that the banjo was originally an African instrument turned almost exclusively into a white bluegrass instrument in part through the derogatory black-face minstrel shows of the 19th century, Taylor dropped the banjo and began to focus solely on the guitar and harmonica. He played music professionally both in Europe and the United States in a variety of blues-oriented bands, including Zephyr, until 1977, when he left the music industry for other pursuits, including becoming an antique dealer.

Taylor returned to music in 1995, and in 2001, he was awarded a fellowship to the Sundance Film Composers Laboratory.  Down Beat magazine, critics' Poll named Taylor's Truth is Not Fiction as Blues CD of the Year for 2002.  Living Blues readers' poll awarded Taylor (along with Etta James) the "Best Blues Entertainer" title in 2004. Down Beat named Taylor's Double V as Blues CD of the Year for 2005. Down Beat named Definition of a Circle as Blues CD of the Year for 2007. They also then named Recapturing the Banjo as "Blues CD of the Year, 2008."

His 2008 effort, Recapturing the Banjo, was an attempt to reconnect himself and the world with the true African origins of the banjo. "There may not be," claimed Down Beat in a review, "a better roots album released this year or decade than Recapturing the Banjo." In 2009, Taylor won a Blues Music Award for his banjo playing. He held the first Trance Blues Festival in Boulder, Colorado, in November 2010. As of 2015, has released fourteen blues albums. His music tends to focus on the hard realities of life, especially relating to the Black community. Some common themes in his music are murder, racism, poverty, and the need for redemption.

To date, Taylor has twelve Blues Music Awards nominations while White African was named 'Best Artist Debut'. His 2015 release Hey Joe Opus Red Meat was the editor's choice for album of the year in Blues Music Magazine and Premier Guitar Magazine. It was named "Album of the Year" by Blues411 and #2 by Twangville, and one of the top 30 albums of the year by The Blues magazine (UK).  Down Beat gave it 4 and a half stars and listed it as one of their top 100 albums of the year.

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