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Johnnie Taylor: The Philosopher of Soul

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Johnnie Taylor, a recording artist and songwriter from America, performed in an array of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, soul, gospel, pop, doo-wop, and disco. Born on May 5, 1934, in Crawfordsville, Arkansas, Taylor grew up in West Memphis, Arkansas where he started singing in church when he was young. During his teenage years, he became involved with The Melody Kings, a gospel band, and made friends with Sam Cooke, who was a member of the popular gospel group The Soul Stirrers.

Taylor's singing closely resembled that of Cooke. In 1957 he replaced Cooke in the gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, and recorded with them until 1960 when he left to pursue a solo career. In 1957 he replaced Cooke in the gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, and recorded with them until 1960 when he left to pursue a solo career. Taylor's one release, "Somewhere to Lay My Head," was with The Highway Q. C.'s, a gospel group that included a young Sam Cooke, on Chicago's Vee Jay Records label in the 1950s.

Taylor's adaptability enabled him to remain relevant throughout the years, resulting in a recording career that spanned over four decades. He was a prodigious gospel singer, gritty Stax/Volt soul artist, captivating balladeer, chart-topping disco sensation, and reliable Southern soul-blues veteran. Some of Taylor's most successful tracks included "Who's Making Love", "Take Care of Your Homework", and "Disco Lady", which marked his sole number one hit.

When the popularity of his national hits waned, Johnnie Taylor became one of the most productive artists signed to the Malaco label, a sanctuary for Southern soul and blues veterans who were no longer in mainstream demand during the 80s. Taylor remained with Malaco for over 15 years, continuing to record and perform until his death in 2000.

During the 1980s, he worked as a DJ for KKDA-AM, a radio station in Dallas, Texas. His contributions were recognized with his induction into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016.


  • Good Love! (1996)
  • Gotta Get the Groove Back (1999)
  • Eargasm (1976)
  • The Best of Johnnie Taylor On Malaco, Vol. 1 (1992)
  • Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits (1970)
  • Who's Making Love... (Remastered) (1968)
  • Essential Albums
  • Singles & EPs
  • Live Albums

Johnnie Taylor's music is still appreciated and enjoyed by fans of soul, blues, and gospel. His legacy as the "Philosopher of Soul" endures through his timeless music and contributions to the genre.

Johnnie Taylor's Family Fights for Royalties Decades After His Death

Johnnie Taylor, a highly influential musician in gospel, R&B, and disco for a period of twenty years, produced music under various record labels throughout his career. He was born on May 5, 1934 in Crawfordsville, Arkansas followed by his passing in Dallas, Texas on May 31, 2000. Taylor's accomplished recording career of almost fifty years encompasses an extensive range of African-American music genres, thus granting him a unique status among major artists.

Taylor signed with Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee in 1966, where he refined his musical style, combining gospel, R&B, and blues, along with his distinctive appearance. He became one of the label's best-selling performers, outselling notable stars such as Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. Taylor and Don Davis continued their hit streak with singles including "Take Care of Your Homework," "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone," and "I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)." Jumping to Colombia in 1976, the two men reached their career peak with "Disco Lady," their first and only crossover number one hit. Use of personal pronouns will be avoided unless necessary.

Fonda Bryant, daughter of R&B singer Johnnie Taylor, is among one of his nine heirs. For over a decade, she has struggled to comprehend the complex web of corporate jargon and royalty statements. Since 2011, Bryant has raised concerns about the lack of royalty earnings received by Taylor's heirs. By the summer of 2020, she had become openly suspicious of the label's intentions. She felt particularly disappointed with Sony, where her father had made his only crossover Number One hit in 1976 with "Disco Lady." Bryant's perseverance led to what could be considered a triumph in the realm of royalties. Although it's not uncommon for music labels to withhold royalties, Sony ultimately compensated Taylor's beneficiaries.

To sum up, Johnnie Taylor was a significant influence in gospel, R&B, and disco for twenty years and recorded under various labels throughout his career. His daughter, Fonda Bryant, spent ten years fighting to receive royalties from Sony, the record label where her father recorded his only crossover Number One hit in 1976, "Disco Lady". In the end, Sony did pay Taylor's heirs.