Updated: Sep 11, 2019
Imagine what the combination of Demi Lovato and Aretha Franklin would sound like, and you will have a pretty good idea of 13-year-old Taylor Gayle’s style of soul pop music.
Living in Texas at the time, Taylor was seven years old when she attended an art show with her mom and some of their friends in Dallas. Perhaps inspired by live musicians who were performing at the event, Taylor began to approach complete strangers and belt out impromptu bluesy songs. That’s when Brandy Barnes knew her daughter was different from other kids her age. Back at home, Brandy introduced Taylor to the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James. When she saw a video with Aretha Franklin, Taylor declared with determination, “I want to be just like her when I grow up.”
Taylor started taking vocal lessons and writing original songs. Her mom, who is now Taylor’s manager, realized early on that any future success “would have very little to do with standing on stage and singing pretty.” So they both set out to learn as much as they could about the music business. Brandy’s instinct was that Nashville would be the best place to nurture Taylor’s talent, so they began to take monthly trips to Music City when Taylor was 10.
Taylor had been home-schooled off and on since second grade when she was bullied at public school. Once she started the back-and-forth trips to Nashville, home-schooling was the most practical alternative. A few years later, the family decided to relocate from Plano, Texas to Nashville. The transition was relatively easy for Taylor’s parents (who work from home) and her brother (who fit right in at his new high school). But since she was home-schooled, Taylor had a difficult time meeting people the first year. “My existence was quite lonely, but we got through it and I found my own little singer tribe in Nashville.”
That sense of “community” is what Taylor feels is the best part of living in Nashville. ”Everyone is really accepting of each other… if you work hard and you do your time and get your 10,000 hours in, you have Nashville’s respect.” Although she is living in the country music capital, Taylor doesn’t think her voice is suited for that genre. She does, however, love to write country songs and she hopes they will eventually be cut by a country artist or band.
With 57,000 followers on Instagram; 3,800 on Facebook; and 110,000 on Twitter, Taylor has an impressive fan base. She has a genuine appreciation for her followers, who funded her debut EP “Fly Away.” The CD features seven original songs written by Taylor and produced by Margaret Becker, an award-winning Christian rock artist with twenty-one #1 singles of her own. Since Taylor was only 11 at the time of the release, her mom says, “we didn’t set out with tons of expectations” regarding sales or getting on the radio or charts. “It was a response to her fans wanting music from her,” – enough that they paid for the entire cost of studio recording and CD production.
Taylor says the 2016 CD is “definitely a younger version of me.” She is in the process of recording and creating new tracks, which will be released as singles throughout the coming year.
What else is in store for 2018? Taylor is “super excited” to start going to concerts to see some of her favorite artists. She already has tickets for Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Bishop Briggs. The last time Taylor went to a concert was when she was only eight or nine and saw her #1 idol, Aretha Franklin.
Taylor will also continue to work with the non-profit, Notes for Notes. The organization provides after-school recording studios (complete with guitars, keyboards, and other equipment) inside Boys & Girls Clubs where youth have free access and instruction. Taylor is a mentor to students, and has also performed when Notes for Notes had artist visits from supporters Hunter Hayes and Maddie and Tae. She was recently appointed to the N4N Youth SoundBoard, where she will have an opportunity to influence the organization’s decisions.
It’s been six years since Taylor typed her goals about music and taped them to her bedroom wall when she was just seven years old. According to her mom, Taylor has always been very driven and never taken a detour. But that’s not to say there haven’t been any bumps in the road. In grade school, Taylor was frequently bullied by girls in her class who told her she was an awful singer. Heartbroken but not defeated, Taylor used that experience to write songs of encouragement. Her mom says, “she would tell other girls to keep living their dreams and not let other people’s jealousy, negative comments, or hate get in the way of what they want in life.”
Since that time, Taylor has surrounded herself with a tribe of music friends in Nashville who all share and support each other. As a mom and manager, Brandy believes strongly that achieving success should never be a competition with other kids who are trying to do the same thing. “Find your own music community and support… and rise together.”
Taylor frequently performs at (and often hosts) local songwriter rounds. For her schedule and more info, check out www.TaylorGayleMusic.com and follow her on social media.
Fun Facts and Trivia:
Favorite local restaurant: Lemongrass Sushi & Thai
Favorite menu item: Vegetable red curry w/brown rice
Song on repeat: "Microphones & Lights" by Dylan Dunlap
Favorite TV show: Tie between "Full House" and "Friends"
Pets: Charlie (Cocker Spaniel) and Penny (Golden Retriever)
Random: Taylor is actually pretty klutzy (her words, not ours!)
Check out the video below to hear Taylor sing her original song "Salvage" at a local songwriter round.
Photo credits: Top/Right: John Brown; Middle/Right: Rebecca Renee
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