Koko Taylor: 1928-2009

Koko Taylor
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Koko Taylor , the Grammy Award-winning "Queen of the Blues" whose career spanned five decades, died Wednesday in her hometown of Chicago due to complications from her recent gastrointestinal surgery. She was 80 years old.

Her death came just a few short weeks after she set a record by collecting her 29th Blues Music Award, this time for Traditional Female Blues Artist of the Year. Her final performance was at the ceremony.

Bruce Iglauer, founder and owner of Alligator Records, signed Taylor in 1974. He hadn't signed a single woman in the blues label's first three years, but he was impressed by the strength of both her voice and her personality.

Taylor's passion for blues stayed with her until her last day. After a brush with severe illness in 2004, she recorded 2007's Old School, and Iglauer said that the singer had recently been sharing new songs with him on the phone. She was planning on traveling to Spain next week to continue performing.

"She would always say, ‘If I can brighten one person’s day with my music, that’s what I live for,’” Iglauer told the Chicago Tribune.

Related links:
Feature: Chasing the Blues
News: Blues Music Awards Celebrate 30 Years

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