Doreen Taylor is a country artist who counts her faith as part of her music’s strength. When she felt she didn’t fit the type of female singers in popular music, she didn’t give up and tried anyway…
You talk about how you “want to stay rooted” in country music. Are you upset that more popular country music is headed towards harder rock…and Top 40 mainstream pop?
No, not at all. I truly believe that music is an artistic expression that should not have boundaries and restrictions. To me, music is art and there are no rules when it comes to creating art. The best performers that I can think of always cross styles and infuse varying sounds and textures when they are making good music. I am such an eclectic artist and songwriter that I strive to pull from a myriad of musical genres when I am creating music and I love when songs blur the definitions of musical styles and bring a sense of freshness and creativity to the table. I wish more mainstream artists today were more interested in thinking outside the box musically and less about fitting into a generality of what they think their style of music should be. A true great artist needs to find the courage to be an innovator, not an imitator and develop a sound that is unique and new.
You talk about being a woman of faith. I remember seeing Carrie Underwood say on TV she was surprised at people’s reactions to “Jesus Take the Wheel” when country music was always intertwined with it. Why do you think non-country music fans have a problem with people incorporating religious lyrics?
This is a very touchy area for a lot of people. No matter how liberal we like to think we become as a society, people still seem to find it taboo to talk about religion and faith. I am not really sure why that is. If we can openly talk about same sex marriage, foreign war policies and other truly controversial issues at the dinner table, I don’t understand why people are afraid to openly discuss their religious beliefs. I have never been a huge fan of organized religion and of putting someone in a box regarding their beliefs. I personally feel that spirituality and the purpose of helping others, being a good person and doing the best to make the world a better place while we are here is much more appealing to me than the rules and regulations of something that was organized by man. In my opinion, most people view Christian country music as a “love it or hate it” kind of subgenre of the country music world. Some people thrive from the message it contains while other listeners are turned off by the “preacher on the pulpit” sense that they are trying to be “saved.” There is also a strong public opinion that religious music or songs of faith are too clean cut and perhaps kind of “cheesy.” It really has very little to do with the song and much more to do with the preexisting feelings of the listener about religion. I believe that good music is good music and one of the main formulas of creating a timeless, classic song is to touch people and evoke a deep experience for the listener on numerous levels. Christian country music definitely can fall into this definition when it is done right. In my experience as an artist, you have to just be authentic and create the music that speaks to you. You can’t always worry about what everyone is going to think, because you will never please everyone.
What happens when you have your “dry spell” songwriting moments — how do you get back at it?
Having “dry spells” when it comes to songwriting is very common. Quality music should never be pushed. I have found that the best songs I have ever written have been the easiest for me to create and very organic in their development. I write both the music and the lyrics in my songs so often I create the two together at the same time. In some cases, the words dictate the melody and in others, the music dictates the words, but they tend to work in tandem with each other. When I hit a patch where I feel that I am forcing the music or the lyric, it is time to just walk away, put it aside for a period of time and then revisit later with fresh eyes. Many songs I tried to create have ended up being scrapped because they just felt contrived and unnatural. Inspiration can happen anywhere, anytime and when I am in one of those dry spells, it is easiest for me to break away, open my mind, listen, observe and draw from the things that are going on all around me. There are so many amazing things to write about if you just journey outside yourself and observe the world.
How do you think your career might be different had you grown up in Manhattan and not a rural community?
I think that someone’s environment and surroundings really do have a lot to do with who they are as a person and ultimately what they become, but to what degree is the question. It is the age old debate of nature versus nurture. We are all given hereditary traits that can be changed due to cultural context and personal choices we make. My upbringing or my “cultural context” allowed me to explore different things that perhaps I wouldn’t have experienced in a more urban setting and on the flip side, perhaps if I had grown up in a more urban environment, doors would have opened that were not accessible in the environment of a more rural setting. Ultimately, I like who I have become as not only an artist and songwriter, but also as a person so I shudder to think what might have been if I did not grow up with my unique experiences. I would like to think that this has been the “plan” all along for my life, but it is a very thought provoking question and I am just grateful things worked out the way they did.
When you were a kid, did you want to be like any famous female singers, or did you shape who you are now based on what you disliked about the country scene then?
To be honest, when I was a kid, I was listening to a very wide eclectic mix of music. I can remember sneaking down to the basement and listening to my parents’ old 45’s trying to soak up as much as I could of all the different performers and genres of music in their record collection. I loved everything about those records and I can really say that even though I didn’t know it then, all those different sounds and styles shaped the artist I have become today. Not only did I like to listen to the groups that were popular when I was young like Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Radiohead, but I would love to listen to my parent’s old recordings of bands like Journey, Genesis and The Beatles. I loved bands that could write their own music and those that stepped outside of the box with their sounds. I started writing my own music when I was very young and I know that all these different ideas opened my creative mind to express myself in a greater way. I can’t say that I ever really wanted to be like anyone else. I knew very early that I was different. My voice really didn’t sound like anybody else and the music I wrote didn’t sound like any other music out there. For many years, I never really thought I could have a mainstream music career because I didn’t fit the “formula” of the other singers that saturated the industry, but that never stopped me. I kept working at it and continued to stay true to myself and my unique qualities. I am living proof that you should never give up on your dreams!
You’ve said you love traveling to South Beach. How do you let loose when you go, and do you have any recommended places to visit there?
South Beach Miami, Florida is definitely one of my favorite places to escape to when I need a place to relax and unwind. I love the beaches, the spas, the shopping, the restaurants and the nightlife. No matter what you are into, South Beach seems to have something for everyone. Personally, I try to escape to the Elemis Spa at the Lowes Miami Beach for a hot stone massage and a day of pampering. I hit the shops at Bal Harbour or if I am feeling like I want to go crazy, I take a drive out to the Sawgrass Mills in neighboring Sunrise, Florida. The “Last Call- Neiman Marcus” is one of the best I have ever seen for quality and selection. So many of the dresses I have worn on red carpets have come from that store! Dining outdoors at ‘Sushi Samba’ on Lincoln Drive is a must and I have to eat at Joe’s Stone Crabs at least twice each time I am there (if the crabs are in season). Prime 112 is a really great place to be seen and I can always party the night away at ‘Wall’ in the W Hotel if I am feeling like mixing it up. But most of the time, you can find me sipping a pina colada on the white sand next to the ocean.
What’s next for your career?
Right now I am busy promoting my brand new single, “Colors of the USA,” that I wrote, produced and performed to benefit the US National Parks. I was just recently named an ‘Ambassador of the National Parks’ and will continue my mission to inspire children to visit the parks in honor of the upcoming centennial in 2016. In addition to those newly found duties, I am getting ready to head back into the recording studio to write, record and produce the follow up album to my solo debut album, Magic. I was just recently selected as the celebrity face of an international shoe designer and am getting ready to launch a multi-media campaign for their brand. Yesterday, I performed a very special show in New York City on October 2nd and hope to be back on the road in 2015 doing an international tour in support of my upcoming album.