Blues music is one of African Americans’ gifts to America, and a host of singers who have emerged from all walks of life have shared that gift around the world. Although many critics and historians have debated the exact birthplace of this music genre, it is probably fair to say that Chicago has become accepted as the “unofficial home” to blues music. And, Chicagoan Delores Scott definitely has made her contribution to this designation.
Coming from a rich musical tradition, Scott, who was raised in the church, considered pursuing a jazz career for a long time because the blues was considered the “devil’s music.” The first blues song she remembers hearing and singing was Ruth Brown’s sassy “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean.” But, it was the legendary KoKo Taylor who had the greatest influence on Scott’s professional musical career. As fate would have it, Scott was performing Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle” at an even,t and Taylor happened to catch the act and was impressed by the performance.
“I’m thinking I am singing this woman’s song, and, when I came down, I was really embarrassed. She said, ‘Come on over here, little girl. You can really sing.’ And the rest is history.”
Scott’s love of blues music led her to teach the blues to children in Chicago Public Schools with blues icon Billy Branch. But, how do you teach the blues?
“It is an interesting concept. It’s more about history, about teaching children the beginning of where it came from,” Scott explained. “Billy taught me you start the kids off with telling a story.”
At 65, Scott is not slowing down. She sees it as her mission to keep the blues alive. “It is a story-telling, positive form of music, and it is so important that we make sure that we teach it to our children. You have a choice as to what type of music you like, but don’t just count [the blues] out. It is a part of our culture and heritage.” –tony binns