With his Alligator Records debut album, The Chicago Way, just hitting national retail outlets and media platforms, singer/songwriter/guitarist Toronzo Cannon couldn’t be happier. Being a native of Chicago and being signed to one of the premier blues labels in the world is a dream come true. And the dream was never better realized than in June 2015 at the Chicago Blues Festival where Cannon made his unofficial launch from local hero to national star. “That big stage.... man! It’s really hard to put into words. If a bluesman can be overwhelmed I was overwhelmed that day. And it was the quickest 45 minutes of my life. The crowd was electric, the band was tight. It truly was a turning point in my career.”
The 40-something Cannon has spent the last 25 years or so honing his craft in Chicago, across the U.S. and around the world. He released three albums for the Delmark label from 2007-2013. Prior to that, he was a sideman with esteemed blues artists like Joanna Connor, Tommy McCracken, Wayne Baker Brooks and L.V. Banks before venturing out as a leader on his own. For the last decade he’s had a friendly relationship with the president of Alligator, Bruce Iglauer. But Cannon is nonchalant and humble about their interaction. “I would have lunch with Bruce at least a couple times a year and he was always very helpful if I had any questions about the business,” explains Cannon. “Every time I would do a CD I would send it to him. And in the back of my mind I always thought it would be cool to sign with Alligator, but I was gonna still do my thing regardless. Until one day Bruce called and said let’s talk.”
“I was overwhelmed that day. ....It truly was a turning point in my career.”
At this juncture the diverse and lyrically prolific bluesman knew he was ready to take it to a deeper career level. “Yeah, there was some pressure, but the pressure was invited because I knew I wanted to put out some great stuff that would be better than the last one,” says Cannon. “You know, I never really shopped my music to Bruce or anyone for that matter. I just kept doing my thing in the clubs and figured if people liked what they heard they would contact me.”
The Chicago Way, the Alligator debut from Toronzo Cannon, is currently available everywhere.
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