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items tagged with Otis Clay

“God Loves It All” – Otis Clay: Sunday, July 3, 9:30 p.m., Tent Stage
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

2011-06-22 12:03:18

Is he soul? Is he blues? Is he gospel? Yes, and he has become an iconic figure in all those genres.” – Chicago Sun-Times

Otis Clay

“I’ve always been a bit open-minded about the music,” Otis Clay said in a recent phone interview. He recalled that when he first went professional, he performed a genre of music called jubilee that included show tunes alongside gospel. “In the ’60s we would be all up in the Catskills during the week, and do churches on Sunday. I had done secular even then. [But] I never left gospel. It was all mixed up in there.”

That genre-blending had begun even before Clay – who will receive the Mississippi Valley Blues Society RiverRoad Lifetime Achievement Award before his July 3 festival performance – started touring when he was 18. Born in Waxhaw, Mississippi, in 1942, Clay started singing in the church at four, but even then he was also getting a different music education. “My father was an entrepreneur – he always had a juke joint, and my mother was very religious. But ... for the Saturday-night fish fries, she would cook and sell sandwiches,” Clay said. There he would listen to John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf on the jukebox. He was seven years old when he experienced his first live concert: Muddy Waters in Clarksdale.

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