For the past decade, blues singer and bassist Cassie Taylor has made her home on the road. At age sixteen, she started touring with her father, bluesman Otis Taylor, and she started her own solo career a few years after that.
While Taylor has no plans to slow down, the 26-year-old veteran is settling down a bit. She was recently married and moved to the Kansas City area. Some of the true-life stories of the blues life and love lost and found are the subjects of her new CD, called Out of My Mind.
Cassie Taylor recently talked to KC Currents' Susan B. Wilson about the challenges and experiences of being a young, female blues musician in today’s world. Taylor said her career began when she started eavesdropping on her father’s band practice.
On how she started playing the bass:
“I walked in on my dad playing “Hey Joe” and was really interested in the bass line that his bass player was jamming with him with. So I asked to learn it, and they taught it to me really quick and I kind of played it back to him. And I think that my dad knew at that point that I had the capabilities of picking up the bass.... It wasn’t until I was 16 that his bass player actually couldn’t go on the tour, so my dad was kind of scrambling around, and didn’t know quite what to do. So he just came to me and said, 'Okay. I’m going to teach you play bass, and you’re going to come out on the road with me.'"
On creating music while living with dyslexia:
“My dad told me that I should write my own songs, because that was where all the money is. So that was something I have really kept true, and I try to do as many self-written songs as I can. Especially because I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in the third grade, and I think that it is a wonderful way that I can be an author, but not have to subscribe to the rules of literature, like punctuation and spelling. You can still get across a lot of amazing images, and phrases, and emotions but without all the context that writing papers has.”
On being a female blues musician:
“[The field] is absolutely not level. I recently spoke with a promoter after a show to get paid, and his response was. ‘I don’t do business with women.' And he was absolutely, dead serious. It’s one of those things where you’re always aware of it, and then some days it will just smack you in the head. I’ve had sound guys come up to me and just assume I have absolutely no idea what’s going on and that I don’t understand what I want my tone to be, because how could I? I’m a woman. I think there’s that difficulty to it, and I think that there’s also an underlying sexuality that audience members expect you to participate in…”
On the inspiration for one of her songs:
“My sister-in-law called me, and she talked my ear off about this guy that she was seeing, and I thought, 'oh, wow she can’t get him out of her mind.' And it kept playing in my head – the obsession that she was currently going through. We were moving across country from Boulder, Co. to Kansas City, and as we were driving I just kept writing this in my head, and singing it over, and over, and over again – just cruising down I-70, and I thought, 'I think I got something here.'"