World Cafe Looks Back: Blues And Gospel

Feb 20, 2012

Throughout the month of October, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of World Cafe by revisiting some of the best and most memorable interviews of the past 20 years.

On today's show, host David Dye celebrates blues and gospel visionaries by resurfacing past conversations with guitar masters Buddy Guy and R.L. Burnside, gospel storyteller Mavis Staples and blues royalty Koko Taylor.

Widely known as "Queen of the Blues," Koko Taylor spoke with Michaela Majoun in 1994, after the release of Taylor's album Force of Nature. Discovered by producer Willie Dixon, Taylor landed a recording contract with Chess Records, rising to fame with her 1965 single "Wang Dang Doodle." Taylor died in 2009.

Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy came of age in the 1950s Baton Rouge scene, though his Grammy-winning 1991 album Damn Right I've Got the Blues remains one of his best-loved works. Guy visited World Cafe in 2005, the same year he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

R.L. Burnside visited World Cafe in 2000. Although he played guitar and sang throughout his life, Burnside (who died in 2005) primarily made his living as a farmer and fisherman — that is, until Fat Possum Records gave his music career a boost in the 1990s. Hear a rollicking live performance from Burnside and his band, which includes his grandson Cedric Burnside.

Mavis Staples is another performer with strong family ties, having led The Staple Singers with her father Pops Staples in their church starting in the 1940s. By the 1960s, the group was touring the South alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., energizing the Civil Rights movement with freedom songs. She visited World Cafe in 2004 for one of the show's best conversations.

This story originally aired on October 12, 2011.

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