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Singer’s secret kids in TV documentary
Johnnie Taylor family on Investigation Discovery's 'The Will'
 
Published Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:22 am
by Sommer Brokaw

Bessie Fonda Bryant said that she always knew her father was famous R&B singer, Johnnie Taylor, but she still doesn’t know much about his side of the family.

Taylor died in May 2000 without a will, leaving his six acknowledged children to split up his estate, until three more individuals stepped forward claiming to also be entitled to a share. Bryant, who lives in Charlotte, is one of them. The other two children are Schiffvon Brown of Louisiana and Tyrone Hooker of Missouri.

Investigation Discovery TV will air the saga on “The Will: The Secret Children of Johnnie Taylor” on Nov. 16 at 9 p.m.
Bryant said that it would show what could happen when it comes to money.

“That’s what the show is about how ugly things can get, and it got ugly,” she said.

In 2002, a judgment in probate court in Dallas, Texas found the three petitioners were indeed Taylor’s children and his estate was split between all nine children.  They also receive royalties from his music twice a year from different companies.

Bryant said that she talked to her father when she was 28.

“He said he always knew I was his daughter,” she said. “The first thing out of my mouth was: Why didn’t you try to see me? Why didn’t you try to help my mom? And he gave the lame cardboard excuse that my mom had remarried …To me, it was just a cop out.”

She added: “To this day, I haven’t met any of my father’s brothers. I don’t know a whole lot about my father’s side, and to me it will always be a piece of me missing.” 

Bryant added that she plans to start a nonprofit – Breaking the Cycle – to prevent illegitimate childbirth.

“Growing up without a dad did a lot of damage to me with my self-esteem, with when I got older with boys, everything,” she said. “I want to be able to help young girls to have that self-esteem, to concentrate on going to school, getting their education, and to go out here and be productive without children until they decide to get married and settle down. …So if anything good can come out of this I can start a nonprofit and help young girls just like me who grew up without dads and help them through tough times.”

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