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The Traditional Delta and Country Blues

Featured Interview – Otis Clay

by MARTY GUNTHER. When it comes to deep soul, there’s no argument that Otis Clay is king. Along with Otis Redding, Tyrone Davis, Wilson Pickett, Johnnie Taylor and Sam and Dave, he helped shape the sound of the New Generation in the ’60s with his incendiary, soul-wrenching, horn-filled, gospel-tinged performance. Whenever Clay takes the stage, angels stop to listen. He’s equal parts grit, growl and heavenly joy, seamlessly melding the worlds of blues and gospel into one with a hint of other musical styles thrown in for good measure. Other folks do the same, but Otis has built a huge following on both the secular and spiritual sides of the street. His soul releases have been frequent, consistently fresh and well-received, and one gospel album in particular still is a consistent seller 20 years after it hit the streets. It’s no surprise that he can juggle both worlds so well when you consider his upbringing. Many artists born when he was were frowned upon by members of “proper” society for choosing a path in the blues, but the duality is his birthright. The youngest of ten children, he’s the son of Anthony and Elizabeth Clay, and came into the world on Feb. 11, 1942, in rural Waxhaw, not far from the river in northwest Mississippi. READ MORE