Unstoppable Talent: Showing Authenticity in Music and on Stage
When you know who you are and understand your limits, you realize that there is very little that can hold you back from success. Award winning singer and songwriter, Doreen Taylor is pressing past her limits each day. Her Off Broadway Debut in “An Enchanted Evening: A Night with Oscar Hammerstein” is only one of many outstanding roles that she has played. In addition to her love of acting, she has a true passion for music. From winning “Suggested Artist of the Year” to serving as the Ambassador to the National Parks, Doreen has proven that authentic talent is what it takes to make it in the industry. By living according to the life lessons she learned from her parents on how to simply be kind to others, Doreen is not letting anything stop her for going straight to the top!
Rachel: Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?
Doreen: Wow- I am not sure I can sum that up in a few lines, but I will try my best. I have a ridiculously eclectic background in music. I was born and raised in a small town outside of Buffalo, NY to a modest family of school teachers and there I discovered my love for creating music at a very young age. I attended the Hartt School of Music, received my Bachelor of Music degree, and then went on to Temple University where I did my graduate studies in Opera Performance. Shortly after completing my time at Temple I started working professionally in the industry in numerous opera companies and touring groups, but loved creating my own music. I crossed over and released my debut album “MAGIC” in 2012, which exceeded my wildest expectations. I followed up “MAGIC” with my sophomore album “Happily Ever After” that was created with the legendary Larry Gold (Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, etc). Last year I finally crossed back over to my classically trained roots and returned to the stage in “An Enchanted Evening: A Night With Oscar Hammerstein” which debuted Off Broadway. It was such an amazing experience and I am now gearing up to return to the Off Broadway stage in 2019!
Rachel: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
Doreen: If you survive long enough in this industry like I have, there really isn’t anything you haven’t seen. I think one of the more interesting stories is when I was in the studio recording my holiday single “My Christmas Wish”. I was suffering from one of the worst migraines I have ever had and my engineer gave me one of his prescription pills for migraines to get me through the session. About 20 minutes after taking it, I was in the booth recording my vocals and wow- that pill hit me. It was intense! I felt like I was watching myself sing out of body and I was hearing myself sing in third person. It was surreal; but it ended up being one of the best vocals I have ever recorded even until this day. I truly believe that something incredible happened that day (but I wouldn’t dare try it again- hahahaha!
Rachel: What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Doreen: I will be returning to Off Broadway in a really big production that I am very excited about very soon. I can’t give out any more details yet as the big announcement will be made later this month), but I don’t think anything I have accomplished up to this point is as exciting, or monumental, as what’s coming next.
Rachel: Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Doreen: I have collaborated and starred opposite some incredible talents, but I have to say that my most cherished memories were with my dear friend, heavyweight champ, Joe Frazier. We shared a very special friendship for several years at the end of his life and he was such a wonderful supporter of my music. He was an incredibly kind and generous soul and someone who was kind and appreciative to every fan who approached him. After his passing, I wanted to appropriately honor him as the incredible and inspiring person he was, so I wrote “Unstoppable” on my Happily Ever After album as a tribute to Joe.
Here is a link to the official music video: https://youtu.be/TkkWkseHaoU
Rachel: What are your “3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Doreen: I was really lucky that I studied with awesome teachers and had a number of mentors along the way that were very honest. I knew a lot going into this industry, but I can share the top things that I think newer artists should know if they want to pursue this career.
1. Nothing will be easy. Unless you have a bank account with 6 or 7 zeros at the end of it or are born with a famous last name, there are not going to be any “easy” breaks. The days of being discovered in a club or in a coffee shop are gone. Typically you have to hustle and make an established career on your own dime WELL before a label will even look at you. In the current financial climate with labels suffering the way they are, the days of A&R pumping money into artists are also gone. They want you to do almost all of the work PRIOR to coming to them.
2. Fame is not guaranteed. If you want to become a performer so you can become “rich and famous”, pick a different career. The odds of that happening are about as good as getting hit by lighting 20 times in a row. People who should pursue a career in the music industry should do so because they absolutely love to make music and are willing to sacrifice a lot for a modest living, at best. Most musicians are rewarded in other ways- mostly by being able to do what they love to do and make a living at it.
3. Know your voice. This pertains mostly to singers; understand how and why your voice works. Study with a teacher that understands your voice and doesn’t push your vocal boundaries. Learn your vocal limitations and don’t over sing EVER! Most singers burn themselves out because they do not learn how to sing properly and don’t respect their limitations. Labels are notorious for pushing singers so they can make the most amount of money from their artists in the quickest amount of time. They don’t care about their artist’s vocal health. If you follow these simple rules, you can have a long and prosperous career performing.
Rachel: Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Doreen: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It seems pretty self-explanatory. If you really are able to empathize and put yourself in others’ shoes, life can be a much more rewarding experience.
Rachel: Who do you consider to be your role model for the way in which you have molded your career? What can you share about that person?
Doreen: My answer is actually two people — — my parents. Both of them taught me about life, people, etiquette and what is really important in life. Neither are musicians so they never could share much in that way, but they were huge role models in teaching me how to be kind to others, to be helpful, charitable, thoughtful, and respectful. My list could go on forever. I owe most of who I am as a person to both of them.
Rachel: Where were you in your career 5 years ago? What do you believe has changed in that time frame (personal, with the world, and/or with your profession)?
Doreen: I had just released my debut solo album “MAGIC” a few months earlier and I was riding the great success of that release. I was bicoastal splitting my time on the east coast (NJ/NY) and west coast (LA). Since then, I have really been able to hone in on my greatest strengths as not only a songwriter, but as a performer as well. I have continually tweaked my career to keep it relevant and fresh and crossing over to Off Broadway last year. While being a big risk, it was the best decision I have made professionally so far.
Rachel: We always hear about the best advice we have been given. Tell our readers the worst advice you ever received.
Doreen: The most important thing to remember for anyone in the arts is that there will ALWAYS be people who have opinions and ultimately want to offer them to you as fact. One of the best things to learn early on is to get people on your team whose advice and opinions mean something. You don’t want to surround yourself with “yes men”, but you definitely want people who have your best interest in mind. Authenticity has been a big thing from me in my career. I cultivated a brand and image early on and I have always kept in line with that as my career has risen. Throughout the years, many “industry professionals” have tried to convince me to sex it up, make my image dirty.. They have that notion that “sex sells” and always want to push the envelope. This infuriates me! When you have true talent, you don’t need that extra crap. Don’t get me wrong: you can be sexy, but there is a fine line between classy and just trashy. The moral of the story is to stay true to who you are and let the talent speak for itself.
Rachel: When you have the time, what do you binge watch?
Doreen: I am not really a big TV person, but I just recently learned about “Stranger Things” on Netflix and I binged both seasons. I was blown away by how well that show is made (especially Season One on a very small budget). As an 80’s baby, I love all the times they “tip their hat” to that decade. I can’t wait for Season Three.
Rachel: Where have you travelled that has given you inspiration personally or professionally?
Doreen: I try to take away things from everywhere I roam. Whether it be Vegas, Miami, LA (three of my top favorite places to escape) or even overseas — as a songwriter and artist, I am always trying to pull in inspiration from everything around me. I am like a little sponge and try to soak up everything I can. Some of my best ideas have come from something I have seen while I was vacationing. I really think that when your mind is able to just rest and cleanse, it is open to receive some of the most profound things.
Rachel: What would you say we need to know as a society to “move forward”?
Doreen: I honestly have no idea what can make things better. I try to see the good in the world and find beauty even in the ugliest of times. I am not oblivious to the terrible things that are going on each and every day on this planet, but I try to make my difference by paying it forward and bringing recognition to various causes through my music. This might be the song I created for the National Parks or the concerts where I donated all the proceeds to various charities I believe in strongly. Maybe that is what the world needs — people thinking more about others and not just about themselves. We have changed from a society of “we” to a society of “me”. However, there will always be good people out there and we need to always remember that. They may not always get the headlines, but there are wonderful people out there making a difference and that is what we all need to “move forward”.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
Doreen: There are so many people in my life and career that have impacted me in a huge way that I don’t even think I could thank each one adequately. I have been blessed with a wonderful team around me and I am thankful for every one of them. Each plays an integral part in my life and they have become like family to me.