This Day in Black History: Sept. 28, 1928

Koko Taylor, known as the "Queen of Chicago Blues," was born in Shelby County, Tennessee. 

Posted: 09/28/2013 12:00 AM EDT

Koko Taylor, known as the Queen of Chicago Blues, was born as Cora Walton on a sharecropper's farm in Memphis, Tennessee, on Sept. 28, 1928. She was given the name Koko because of her love of chocolate. As a child, she began singing gospel in church and imitated blues music she heard on the radio with her siblings using makeshift instruments.

In 1953, Taylor married and moved to Chicago. She worked as a housemaid by day and at night she frequented Blues clubs on Chicago's South Side. One night she met Chess Records songwriter/producer Willie Dixon, who was impressed by her performance. She made her debut on Chess records in 1964 and her song 'Wang Dang Doodle' became a hit, selling more than one million copies.

By 1975, she and her husband had quit their day jobs. She had released the album I Got What It Takes, for which she received her first Grammy nomination. In 1984, she won her first Grammy for her appearance on Atlantic's compilation Blues Explosion album.

Taylor went on to record 17 albums in total and toured extensively until she died at the age of 80 on June 3, 2009, in Chicago. 

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(Photo: Kirk West/Getty Images)

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