Myra Taylor. Photo: The Kansas City Call
1917 – 2011
Singer Myra Taylor is recognized as one of the last great performers from Kansas City’s jazz heyday of the 1930s. Taylor was born in Bonner Springs, Kansas, but spent her childhood living in the 18th and Vine area of Kansas City. A natural singer and dancer, she was performing in nightclubs by the age of 15. In Taylor’s own words, “I got the jobs because I could dance, but kept the jobs because I could sing.” Her career took off in the 1930s when she toured the U.S. as a vocalist with the Clarence Love Orchestra and Harlan Leonard and His Rockets.
From 1937-1940, she lived in Chicago and collaborated with several legendary jazz musicians. For the next four decades she toured worldwide, performing in 30 countries, and entertained troops during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Over that time, she wrote and recorded several songs but is best known for “The Spider and the Fly” and “Still Blue Water.”
Taylor’s career came full circle when she returned to Kansas City in the early 1990s, performing in local nightclubs and starting a jazz group called the Wild Women of Kansas City. She continued to entertain audiences until her death at age 94.