Demetria Taylor:
The “Bad Girl” of the Blues

Born into the heart of Chicago’s vibrant blues scene in 1973, Demetria Taylor grew up surrounded by the soulful sounds of the genre. The daughter of the renowned blues artist Eddie Taylor Sr. and the gifted vocalist Vera Taylor, Demetria’s childhood was steeped in the rich traditions of the blues. Her home was a hub for Chicago Blues legends, regularly visited by icons like Floyd Jones, Carey Bell, Sunnyland Slim, Johnny Littlejohn, Sam Lay, Willie Kent, Taildragger, Eddie Shaw, Johnny B Moore, and Magic Slim.

Demetria’s passion for blues was nurtured by the soulful melodies of Etta James, Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, and the inimitable Koko Taylor (no relation). Her powerful and versatile vocals could effortlessly transform any space into a realm of raw emotion, from bringing down the house to summoning celestial serenity. Demetria honors her personal heroes while adding her unique flair to classics such as “Wang Dang Doodle” and “Hoochie Coochie Woman,” along with family favorites like “Take Your Hands Down” and “Bad Girl,” a nod to her father’s hit “Bad Boy.”

From a young age, Demetria was musically versatile, learning drums at 14 under the guidance of her brothers Larry and Tim. She became a staple in family shows across Chicago, performing alongside her mother Vera, and her brothers, including the talented guitarist Eddie Jr. Her gospel roots from the choir at Trinity All Nations Church further enriched her musical journey.
“I’m the new kid on the block, and I respect all the musicians and singers out there,” says Demetria, reflecting her humble approach and deep respect for the blues community. “I put God first, and everything else will work out,” she asserts. Her connection to her music is profound and personal, often moving her to tears on stage as she channels the raw energy of the blues.

Demetria’s journey in music has been marked by significant achievements. She has enthralled audiences nationally and internationally, gracing many clubs and festivals, including the esteemed Chicago Blues Festival. Her debut album, “Bad Girl,” released on Delmark Records, was a heartfelt homage to her roots and showcased her formidable talent. This debut earned her a nomination for “Best New Debut Artist” at the 2012 Blues Music Awards.

In August 2022, Demetria’s contributions to blues were recognized with the Jus’ Blues Foundation’s Koko Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor coincided with the release of her second album on Delmark Records, “Doin’ What I’m Supposed to Do.” The following year, she garnered three Living Blues Awards nominations for Blues Artist of the Year, Female Singer, and Best Blues Album for “Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do.”

Demetria Taylor continues to be a luminous presence in the blues scene, her voice echoing the legacy of her family and the soulful history of Chicago blues. Her music not only celebrates the past but also brings a vibrant, contemporary energy to the ever-evolving story of the blues.

Demetria Taylor is ‘Doin’ What I’m Supposed to Do’ on new album

Demetria Taylor was born to sing the blues as she is the daughter of the legendary Chicago blues guitarist Eddie Taylor! 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.”

Taylor is proud to be the new recipient of the KoKo Taylor “Queen of the Blues” Award in 2022 given by the Jus’ Blues Foundation.

As Demetria says, and we believe her: “It’s my time”.


Featured Interview – Demetria Taylor


Cover photo © 2023 Peter M. Hurley

imageBeing the baby daughter of Eddie Taylor Sr. was no small thing. Little “Bird” as Demetria Taylor was called by her grandmother and “Meechie” by her sibs, is a human dynamo.

“I had so many mentors above me; my mom and dad, my elder brothers and sisters, my uncles and aunties, musicians in the community — it’s no wonder I’ve absorbed all this spirit and talent from them. And I want to thank them all and let them know I love them all.”

It takes giant heart like Demetria’s to be able to take that much in and give it right back. No small thing.

The Eddie Taylor Family is a mainstay on the Chicago Blues scene. Eddie Sr.’s (1923-1985) legacy as one of the most influential post-war Blues guitarists for his work with Jimmy Reed is recognized by a current generation as seminal. Since Eddie’s passing, musician sons, Larry, the late Eddie Jr., and Tim along with daughters Brenda, Edna and Demetria have made it their life’s work to contribute to the legend and keep their father’s memory alive.

“That’s what we do,” urges Demetria, making certain to include non-musician brother Milton and sister Vilicia to the roster.

“And my mom Vera too. She was a singer-songwriter with a huge impact on my dad’s and on our family’s music. She’d often write the music to my dad’s songs. She inspired me to sing and, upon her passing in 1999, I dedicated myself to making it happen for me in her and my dad’s memory.”

“I was a drummer at first. Big brothers Tim and Larry encouraged me at a young age and before you knew it, I was playing with our family band all over Chicago. Of course, I’d also be singing around the house like my mom, so it was only natural that I pursued vocalizing as a craft.”

The training took hold and vocal chops developed. And when it comes to stage presence, this diminutive singer with the giant voice and personality commands the boards with the best. When asked to articulate her growth as one of the most dynamic Blues and Soul performers on the big stage, Ms. Taylor confesses that she was a bit demure at first.

“WeIl, I always wanted to be a singer and a dancer. I was always watchin’ my mom, and practicin’ and rehearsin’ with my dad… but when I compared myself with my idols like Koko Taylor (no relation) and all the other greats that inspired me, I was really, really shy. Over time, Big Time Sarah told me ‘You can’t be scared, you have to sing!” And Koko told me, ‘You have to open your mouth and sing, you know; you can’t let these cats scare you.’ ”

image“Yeah, Koko and Sarah and Deitra Farr were the ones who really pushed me. So, I’d go in my basement and work on it, my singing, my choreography and dancing, making my own costumes—I’d look at Tina Turner, Koko and Etta James, all these women infused me with style and passion that I bring to the stage my own way. Valerie Wellington, Shemekia Copeland, I love all these Chicago women. So nowadays, though I might at times seem a little over-aggressive, I call it good aggressive. I work the crowd. Like they say, ‘if you’re not bringing the party to me, I’m bringin’ the party to you!’  she laughs. “From there it just goes up.”

On her current bandmates, Taylor enthused “It took me a while but I’ve forged a great band that suits my style and provides the dynamite that it requires. I have a really tight band now. We’re all going down to Helena to the King Biscuit Festival (Oct. 6) for a two-set extravaganza. My guitarist Carlos Showers has been with me since day one. He’s played with Willie Kent and Big Time Sarah; he’s my rock. I have veteran Jessie Lockridge on keyboards, he’s professional all the way. I got a youngster Jamo Will on drums, and bassist from the jazz scene Vinny Kabat. It’s the same band I use for dj Tom Marker’s Bluesday Tuesday @ Fitzgerald’s; he really loves our guys.”

Ms. Taylor, 2022 winner of the prestigious “KoKo Taylor Queen of the Blues” award from the Jus’ Blues Foundation, is long on praise for her fellow musicians and performers. When asked who, beside her bandmates, she likes to sit in with, her enthusiasm continues.

“I also love to play with the Mike Wheeler Band, all those guys. I call Mike Wheeler “The Pastor of the Blues” because he is so humble and helpful. He always has time to mentor. He helped me with a few vocal tips when we cut ‘Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do’ for Delmark, my follow-up to ‘Bad Girl’ from years prior. John Primer, I’ll play with him anytime. He’s a link back to my dad, a little younger but he was there with Muddy Waters when Dad was out there too. Jimmy Burns is my uncle, I’m his great-niece. He’s been so supportive over the years. I also love to play with Carlos Johnson Band, Pookie Styx and the band and Valerie Wellington, a wonderful musical partner. I’m honored and blessed to spread the love of the Blues with all these people.”

Clearly, Demetria Taylor is as pleased to pay tribute to others as she is to showcase her own career. She continues with lavish praise of her mentors and heroes.

image“All these people I mention, I hold them dear. For John Primer who I’d been following since I was a little girl, he sat me down and gave me career and life advice for which I will always be grateful. He’s a true gentleman. Carlos Johnson took me to Japan and a couple of festivals to give me a boost. ”

“Mike Wheeler, we help each other out, that’s love, that’s real love right there. You could see it on the Pritzker Pavilion stage when I headlined with Mike and the band (Larry Williams, Cleo Cole and Ronnie Hicks, Demetria reminds us) at the ’23 Chicago Blues Fest. We tore it up.”

“I also thank Delmark Records for first recording me and for my most recent CD. ”

“Deitra Farr, what can I say about Deitra? I must say, I love her like a big sister. Please put this in the article, because Deitra was the one who really pushed me to start singin’ when my mom died. She said, ‘We need more women. I want you to do it, do it for me.’ So, anything I go through with Deitra to this day— she cries with me on the phone when I tell her stuff. When Deitra sang and did her part for the Women In Blues and received her award at the Chicago Blues Fest in June, I cried so hard. I stood on the side of the stage cryin’ and she said ‘Now you got me cryin’!”

Choking up a little now, Demetria takes a breath then continues: “That was a great night, all the women did an awesome job. I love ‘em all, it was a magical evening.”

In addition to complimenting fellow musicians and counting her blessings for their guidance and camaraderie, Demetria’s frankness also reveals a feeling of regret over one aspect of the business.

“I love the Chicago Blues and I love Chicago. But I see some things that aren’t right. I thank the clubs Blue Chicago, I thank Fitzgerald’s, Buddy Guy’s Legend’s and Untitled. I’m grateful for them. But it’s hard to keep a wonderful band together without more local work. I’m known and respected in many parts of the country and world, but I can’t quite figure out why the other clubs are not more open for me. I should be playing more of them. ”

“My dad and my older brother Eddie helped put some of these places on the map. I love them but I hate to say that, in my mind, they don’t do the Taylor Family right. I’m not bitter, I have big plans for 2024; I’m doing a two-day festival in Mumbai, India in March! But I just have to speak my mind about this certain aspect of the local scene.”

On the older scene, Ms. Taylor, reminisces with joy about her upbringing as a Blues man’s daughter.

image“I’m blessed to have been fortunate enough to go to these original clubs back in the day. We used to go to all these West Side clubs. On my Facebook, I recently put a video up of Dad at the Delta Fish Market at Jackson and Kedzie where Dad often played.

I’d go there with him to eat fish and see Johnnie Littlejohn, Willie Kent, Honey Boy Edwards, Tail Dragger, Rockin’ Johnny, James Cotton and Mary Lane; I’d watch them all do what they do. That’s another thing that made me want to do it– you know, even back then my mom would tell me, ‘It’s in you too, just bring it out.’ And I’m not through bringin’ it out.”

“I’m not gonna lie, music is my life,” Demetria waxes. “It’s my food, it’s my joy, it’s everything to me. It’s stress free when I get on stage; if there’s something on my mind– you can feel the emotion in my music. You know when I sing my dad’s song ‘Wreck on 83 Highway’, you can feel it. I take my time with that number.”  On how her childhood influences continue to resonate, she adds, “You go and look at the video of this year’s Chicago Blues Fest, we really put our hearts and souls into that, just like my mom and daddy and all their musician friends used to do.”

When asked what it feels like when the moment hits during performance, Demetria offers a beautiful soliloquy:

“Once I get on stage and I’m walkin’ back and forth, and I get to dancin’—I’m in a zone. I can’t see my friends waving, I can’t see photographers, I can’t see anything, I’m just lookin’ out at the crowd. I tell my friends all the time, it’s not personal when I don’t recognize anyone, it’s just that I’ll be in the zone. I’ll be in my feelings. I’m with that deep Blues feelin’ when the spirit hits my body and I get a chill and when that chill comes, you better get out the way, out of Demetria Taylor’s way!” she laughs. “When I feel that–I’m takin’ no prisoners and I’m gonna take flight. Yeah, I love what I do!”

“2023 was a big year for me and my family. We did two major tributes to my dad to celebrate his 100-yr. birthday. One at Antone’s Nightclub included my brother Milton and sister Vilicia in Austin and the other showcased of our family talents under Rosa’s tent at the Chicago Blues Fest. But 2024 is a big year coming up too. In addition to my medical work, (I am certified as a caretaker for the sick, which I love to do, it’s a give-back for me) I’m revving up for more projects and taking more flight! I’m on a mission to spread the music. I carry on my dad and mom’s legacy every day and I am blessed to be a performer in the blues community that they were part of too. I really do love what I do.”

Loving what she does shows with every move and is evident in every note Demetria Taylor sings. Her love for her extended community and her enthusiasm and faith in the future informs her music and life outlook in big ways for this littlest sister of a big Blues family.

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