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Kansas City Jazz Singer And Wild Woman Myra Taylor Dies At 94

Singer Myra Taylor was one of the last living links to Kansas City's jazz heyday of the 1930s. Taylor died Friday, December 9, 2011 at the age of 94.

According to The Kansas City Star:

Taylor had been under hospice care at the Swope Ridge Geriatric Center, 5900 Swope Parkway, for more than three months, said her manager, Dawayne Gilley. Her final performance was July 24 at Jardine’s, 4536 Main St., where she performed with the Wild Women of Kansas City, a jazz vocal quartet.        

Myra Taylor was born in Bonner Springs, but she moved to the 18th and Vine area as a child. She began performing as a dancer in the jazz clubs on 12th and Vine as a teenager in 1930s.

In 2007, Taylor told Steve Kraske on KCUR's Up to Date about walking from gig to gig. "And we'd be laughing all the way because there would always be someone with you," said Taylor. "You'd just be laughing and looking in the windows, admiring things in the windows that you never could buy on your salary: $1.25 a night and they paid you in nickels."

Taylor became known nationally as a vocalist for Harlan Leonard's Rockets. She began touring internationally in 1949. In the 1970s, Taylor settled in Los Angeles, where she performed in film and television, including appearances on "The Jeffersons."

Myra Taylor moved back to Kansas City in 1994, went back to recording music, and joined the Wild Women of Kansas City (listen to a 2007 performance on NPR's Day to Day here).

Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.