William "Shooby" Taylor, American jazz artist

Dig it. Shooby Taylor is The Human Horn, a man whose genius will someday be recognized the world over, though probably, as it so often is with the truly great ones, only after he has been taken from us. You see, Shooby is old and sick now, and his gift is gone along with his health. God gave Shooby the gift of scatting, and Shooby was His gift to us, sent to spread the sound of pure joy. Listen to his masterpiece, Lift Every Voice and Sing, and try, just try not to crack a big grin.

This cat scatted over all kinds of music, everything from Johnny Cash to Mozart. People complained that he hit wrong notes, or that he wasn't in tune with the rest of the instruments at all. They said he was ruining perfectly good songs by better artists. They booed him offstage at the Apollo. That didn't stop Shooby though. He had a gift, and he was going to make use of it. We were not ready for Shooby while his talent was blossoming and fading, and now all we have is his recordings and his mortal body dwindling away in a nursing home in New Jersey.

Shooby Taylor is 73 now but he goes to church every day. He doesn't womanize like he used to; all that's behind him. Everything is behind him except God, and God is all that's ahead. Shooby had a stroke a few years back, and a mild heart attack more recently. His voice is a slow, wavering drawl now, and he gets confused sometimes. He can't scat any more, but he still listens to his old recordings, lying in his bed at the nursing home, and he smiles a smile of not-so-secret satisfaction, because he's sure now that he was right all along, and he was doing what needed to be done.

Most information gleaned from www.shooby.com, and listening to his recordings.
Listen to Shooby's version of Lift Every Voice and Sing: http://www.monkey.org/~pheezy/shooby/shooby02.mp3

Update: Shooby Taylor passed away on June 4th, 2003. R.I.P., Shooby.

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