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Alligator Records has set an April 3 release date for OLD SCHOOL, the first new CD in seven years from Grammy-winning Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor. Inspired by the sound and spirit of the Chicago blues of the 1950s, Taylor wrote five new originals and carefully chose songs from Willie Dixon, Lefty Dizz, Magic Sam and others to create an album of tough, "old school" Chicago blues.

“Blues is my life,” says Taylor, Chicago’s—and the world’s—undisputed Queen Of The Blues. “It’s a true feeling that comes from the heart, not just something that comes out of my mouth. Blues is what I love, and singing the blues is what I always do.” And, in many ways, blues is what saved Koko Taylor’s life. Back in November of 2003, following emergency surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding, Taylor’s condition grew even more serious. She was struggling just to breathe. Family and friends feared the worst as she was placed on a ventilator. But her forceful will to live, and to sing the blues again, brought her back. Slowly but surely she recovered, and by the following spring she was performing live on stage. Her resurgence not only led her back to the stage, but also led her back to the recording studio.

With the aptly titled OLD SCHOOL, Taylor once again shows the world what she does so well. From foot-stomping barnburners to powerful slow blues, Koko proves in an instant that her blues are joyous and life-affirming, powerful and soul-stirring.

OLD SCHOOL brings it all back home, with Taylor supported by a band of veteran musicians and young revivalists. Singing like she did for Chess Records early in her career, Taylor belts out a set of material that could easily have topped the blues charts in the 1950s, and will certainly reach the top of the blues world today.

Koko Taylor, guitarist Criss Johnson and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer produced OLD SCHOOL. Recorded in Chicago, the 12 songs all hearken back to Taylor’s early years in the Windy City. They range from the humorous truth of Piece Of Man to the rocking blues advice of Better Watch Your Step to the tough street scene of Bad Avenue (done in classic Muddy Waters style), to Koko’s version of Memphis Minnie’s Black Rat, a song she used to sing as a teenager. “I put my heart and soul into everything that I do,” says Taylor. “I worked long and hard on OLD SCHOOL, and I want my fans to enjoy it as much as I do.”

Live, she simply cannot be matched in her power and raw talent. In fact, reviews of her 2006 live performances all rave about how “The Queen” is singing better than at any other time in her long, storied career—a career that includes singing with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Plant and every other imaginable legend. She’s performed in clubs, festivals and concert halls all over the world, played for two presidents, and even lent her voice and her likeness (as an animated bear) to the PBS children’s television program Arthur.

Over the course of her almost 50-year career, Taylor has received just about every award the blues world has to offer and then some. She’s received Grammy nominations for seven of her last eight Alligator albums, and she won a Grammy in 1984 for the live multi-artist album Blues Explosion on Atlantic Records. In 2004 she was presented with the coveted National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment For The Arts. She holds 25 Blues Music Awards (more than any other blues artist, male or female). A major feather in her cap came on March 3, 1993, when Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley honored Taylor with a Legend Of The Year Award, and declared “Koko Taylor Day” throughout Chicago. In 1998, Chicago Magazine named her “Chicagoan Of The Year,” and in 1999, Taylor was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall Of Fame. “There are many kings of the blues,” said The Boston Globe, “but only one queen. Koko’s voice is still capable of pinning a listener to the back wall.”

It is not easy being a woman succeeding in the male-dominated blues world, but Koko Taylor has done just that. She’s taken her music from the tiny clubs on the South Side of Chicago to giant festivals, and continues to perform all over the world. She’s appeared on national television numerous times and has even been the subject of a PBS documentary. Through good times and personal hardships, Koko Taylor has remained a major force in the blues. “It’s a challenge,” she says. “It’s tough being out here doing what I’m doing in what they call a man’s world. It’s not every woman that can hang in there and do what I am doing.” Without a doubt, Koko Taylor is the preeminent blues woman in the world today. She is—and will remain—the undisputed Queen Of The Blues.

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