Maker City KC Newsletter: Cassie Taylor – Music maker turned maker storyteller



If one were to write a book on the life of Cassie Taylor, each chapter would be a completely different adventure from the last. Born in Boulder, Colorado, “I was raised by gypsies and see myself as a touring musician turned mother turned multimedia storyteller. My dad, Otis Taylor, is a blues guitarist and my mom is a historian and librarian, ”Taylor says. Otis taylor is not just blues guitarist: he’s been nominated 12 times for the Blues Music Awards, released 14 albums, won prestigious awards, his songs have been featured in blockbuster movies, and he’s just been inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. “For me, he was a father. He changed my diapers and taught me to ride a bike. He took a break from music until I was 8, so for most of my childhood he wasn’t Otis Taylor the Blues Musician, he was a father.

During this time, he exposes her to blues music and teaches her to play the piano. At age 12, she took up bass and played a soulful version of “Hey Joe”, made famous by Jimi Hendrix, and her father realized that she had inherited her musical genes. Taylor continued to play bass and at age 15 began touring with The Otis Taylor Group. “We have been around the world. We played everywhere from New Zealand to Mexico to Germany, even Tunisia! I’ve jammed with musicians like John Oates, Joe Cocker and Buddy Guy. I even walked the red carpet at the 2009 crime drama “Public Enemies” premiere, ”Taylor said. The song of the group Otis Taylor, Ten million slaves, was featured in the 2009 film starring Johnny Depp on Federal authorities attempt to defeat notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave of the 1930s. Taylor appears on eight of his father’s albums, playing bass and singing.



Around 2010, Taylor decided to embark on his own musical journey. She joined Kansas Citian and the blues singer and guitarist Samantha fish in the power band Girls with guitars. Simultaneously, Taylor wrote and released her first solo album, Blue, who The New Yorker called, “a solid collection of mostly original songs, with occasional nods to his father’s trance blues”, followed by Out of my mind. Her future husband, Kansas Citian Chuck Haren, became her tour manager and “after a two month tour of Europe, playing every night, 11 nights in a row, I was exhausted. It was exhausting. I had been doing this for almost 12 years and I thought to myself, there must be something else I can focus on, ”Taylor says.

Haren and Taylor got married and moved to a small town in Missouri, eventually settling in Kansas City. It gave Taylor the chance to start from scratch; focus on herself and where she wanted to be in the creative world. And this time it was behind the lens instead of in front.


(pictured: Whiskey & Bone by Cassie Taylor)

She has found her place in telling the stories of creatives here in Kansas City. Not only does she photograph, but she films and helps tell the story of the creator as an advocate and artist. She’s styled and photographed many different local personalities and brands and she has done so by putting herself forward and speaking to the creatives she admires. Local musicians like Calvin Arsenia, To Tarrah Anderson of Whiskey and Bone Jewelry and Carly Rae’s paintings. “My passion has always been to tell stories. Whether it’s writing songs or making movies, making a consumable object like music, a photo, or a video out of an idea is what I love about being a creator. To start from nothing and build it, to watch it grow and change as the process unfolds is truly rewarding, ”says Taylor.


(pictured: Calvin Arsenia by Cassie Taylor)

When her son was born, she realized how important motherhood was to her and wanted the freedom to work from home and raise her boy. “I’m fortunate to have the autonomy to work on smaller projects because it’s just me, so I’m affordable for small businesses. And the best part is that I am inspired by my clients because they make me want to be a better artist myself! Taylor said. “I don’t work for them, I work with them: it’s a creative process.

The maker movement is where Taylor feels most comfortable. “Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Being able to meet creators, who then become friends, in the creative industry here has allowed me not only to build a network, but also a community and a sense of belonging. You can see beautiful arrangements of culinary delights, photos of manufacturers and some of his illustrations on his site Supplement at the top. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve done everything under the sun. But it’s part of my secret weapon. Being able to live so many different experiences gave me a lot of perspective. I’ve been an actor, barista, nanny, florist, retail manager, vintage clothing porter, celebrity marketing manager, touring musician and now a mom, ”Taylor says.


(Photo of Cassie Taylor via Carly Rae Studio)

His advice to emerging designers is not to over-analyze and wait for the perfect time to execute. ‘Spoiler alert: There is no such thing as a perfect time. One of my favorite quotes is “the best time to plant a tree is 15 years ago or today”. So go ahead and do it, ”Taylor says.

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(Main photo by Cassie Taylor)

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