Otis Clay
Millie Jackson and Bobby "Blue" Bland

UIC Forum, Chicago, IL

Otis Clay
Otis Clay

Photos & story by James Walker, Jr., Copyright 2010

Soul singer Otis Clay celebrated 50 years in the music business with the help of some of his friends and family at the UIC Forum on October 29th. Although Clay gained fame in Chicago as a R&B singer in the 60s and 70s, his career is also deeply rooted in gospel music even to this day.

On this evening, longtime friends Millie Jackson and Bobby "Blue" Bland came to Chicago to help the legendary singer commemorate this special occasion. It was bittersweet to see Bland being assisted to the stage by an aide as he performed some of his memorable hits. He doesn't have the stamina that he once possessed, but nevertheless, those strong vocal chords are still intact.

Ms. Jackson was as sassy as ever. After having to wait three hours before her performance, Millie was a bit irritated as she began her show. This was expected by the audience as her normal X rated show quickly became XXX. She let everyone know how she felt but all seemed to enjoy her ranting between songs. Millie always "tells it like it is." Although her set was cut short, it was appreciated by those remaining in the Forum.

The star of the night though was Clay. He was presented a proclamation by the city and an award by his children in addition to a stirring set by Mr. Clay himself. What an enjoyable evening honoring one of Chicago's finest musicians. Congratulations Otis and may you continue to build on the legacy that began 50 years ago.

Millie Jackson

Bobby "Blue" Bland

Victory Travelers

Willie Rogers of Soul Stirrers

Felecia J

Victroy Travelers singer

Millie Jackson

Clay's band

Kasper (MC)

Clay's backup singers

Kasper & Herb Kent

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