Cassie Taylor, daughter of Otis, sings her own blues
BY MIKE THOMAS Staff Reporter/mthomas@suntimes..com May 9, 2013 10:24PM
Updated: June 13, 2013 5:34PM
Blues songstress Cassie Taylor spent years traveling the world and jamming alongside her multitalented pop, prominent Chicago-born blues artist father, Otis Taylor. Now 26, Cassie is cultivating a solo career and touring to promote a new album called “Out of My Mind.”
“I love artists like Madonna who did sex really well,” she says. “It was always very provocative, it was always very edgy, but it was never slutty. And that’s really what I go for — striking that balance between femininity and sexuality and being strong and independent.”
Q. You played music with your father for eight years. What personal and professional advice did he give you?
A. He always told me that the best way to make a living in the music industry was to write your own songs. Whether it was music advice or advice about boys, he’s a pretty deep dude.
Q. Was he a threatening figure when it came to boys?
A. [Laughs] Oh, my God, yes! I just think that any 6-foot-2 black man in a room with a skinny white teenage boy is going to be intimidating. And he has these very piercing blue eyes that kind of cut through you if you’ve done something wrong. He definitely used that to his advantage when I was a teenager and first started dating.
Q. Is this a better time to play the music you want to play, or is it tough all over?
A. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, it doesn’t matter who you know. It’s just absolute perseverance. Because if you do something long enough, eventually something will happen.
Q. You’ve also done some modeling work. How much does style play into whose music people listen to these days?
A. I think it plays a much bigger role than it used to. Everything is much flashier and much more glamorous than it was a long time ago.
Q. Do people sometimes pay more attention to that stuff than you’d like?
A. Yes. [Laughs.] And that was actually one of the reasons why I took a break in 2009. I was so disillusioned with how much of an emphasis that was in music. I thought it was about the songs and the lyrics. At that time, it just seemed like all people wanted was a skinny body to prance around in a tank top onstage.
Q. You don’t want to feel like a sex object up there; you’re a musician.
A. And it’s hard, because sex is very poignant. The whole reason to be on this earth is to have sex and make babies and then die. [Laughs.] And sex is a really important part of the music industry. But for a female, there is a very thin line between being a sex object and being sexually powerful.
Q. What got you out of your funk?
A. I figured, well, I could either be a musician or I couldn’t be a musician. It was just too hard for me to let it go, so I had to come to terms and really figure out who I was going to be onstage and what my message was going to be.
Q. Who are you onstage?
A. I’m definitely a little bit of trouble. [Laughs.]