Otis Taylor’s Writing the Blues, 2010

Writing the Blues is a unique musical and cultural presentation. Award-winning Blues artist Otis Taylor’s signature school program enlightens students about the African roots, and call and response beginnings of Blues music, then takes it a step further. Writing the Blues is an engaging, interactive and inspiring program that puts students at the center of the Blues experience.

History and Philosophy

Otis Taylor’s hope is to keep the blues alive for generations to come. But he’s not interested in hearing the same old blues. At the start of his own career, Otis was determined to succeed as a blues musician. His goal was to be recognized for his original material and style, rather than simply reinterpreting the music and styles of past blues greats.

Otis Taylor’s Writing the Blues program was created in the 1990s. After Otis was invited to perform at his daughters’ elementary school, his wife suggested he bring his own philosophy to kids in the classroom. That is, instead of performing a concert of blues cover songs, make the experience interactive, and have the students create their own original Blues songs. Otis did just that, and it was an incredible success with kids and their teachers. Since then, countless students have written and performed original Blues music and lyrics with Otis, based on their own life experiences.

Otis has inspired everything from “I get the blues when I have to go skiing” from a Park City, Utah elementary school student, to “I get the blues because my uncle was shot,” from a recent Bosnian immigrant to Canada

Music Standards

Writing the Blues addresses National Standards for Music Education Standards # 1, #3 and #9.

– Singing, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music

– Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments

– Understanding music in relation to history and culture


Writing the Blues has been presented in Boulder and Denver, Colorado; dozens of schools throughout the United States; Canada, France and Turkey.


“We learned so much about our students.” – Middle school teacher in Boulder, Colorado

“Your workshop confirmed my belief that I should be sounding like myself, not like someone else.” – 2010 Workshop guest

CONTACT: Sound Artist Support – Brian Horner – (615) 364-7656 –

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