The Mississippi artist Taylor James is promoting his newest release entitled “Insane”, a fusion of pop, hip-hop, R&B, gospel and adult contemporary. The tracks on the album are up-beat, catchy, and flavored with fun.
Taylor has performed professionally with the band Wynd Chymes throughout the South, but has now gone solo. He grew up wanting to be a jazz pianist and began writing songs in high school. He couldn’t afford music lessons as a child, but is now a multi- instrumentalist producing, writing and singing his own songs. He likes to create music as opposed to doing covers.
I spoke to Taylor and found him to be almost prophetic in his lyrics and conversation. He had a great sense of humor and a positive attitude. He writes music, “Because there is an ever growing need for love, peace, and happiness”…. from the artist.
When did you start doing music?
Back in high school I just started writing lyrics. I wanted to play piano but I couldn’t. I couldn’t get lessons when I was a kid. I wrote to a record company when I was in high school and they wrote me back. Unfortunately they said they weren’t interested at that time. So I just kept writing lyrics until I went to Jackson State. I really wanted to be a pianist to be honest. At the time there was no money to go to Juilliard. I had to settle for Jackson State. So I took music there. Percussion was my main instrument but piano was on my mind. I slowly learned how to do chord changes, enough to put music to my lyrics. That’s how it started and then it got to the point where I just enjoyed it. I don’t like to copy people, I like to create.
So all the songs on the album were written by you?
Just about all the songs on the album I wrote. I also did an old school CD. Well I did all the songs on that one. I wrote about six of them on this CD.
Do you perform live?
I haven’t done live performances in a while. I’ve been concentrating on just doing music. If you just play live without people knowing the songs it doesn’t have an impact. You’ve got to get the music out there.
When you were growing up who did you listen to on the radio?
I started listening to James Brown, Sly and the Family Stones, The Temptations. I really liked James Brown. I listened to Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. Then I listened to people like Etta James, Quincy Jones, and guys like that. That’s what made me want to be a jazz pianist. That’s when I started to listen to jazz a lot. I was with a band called Wynd Chymes for a long time, and we played throughout the south. That was probably about ten years ago. Then I had a studio for many years, but then I got tired and I sold all the equipment and I rested.
If you could say anything to your friends and followers what would you say?
I don’t try to sound like anybody. I try to put that thread of character that matches the music. I try to write lyrics that are a reality. I try to write songs that tell the truth about society.. I wrote some of that stuff 30 years ago and all of that stuff that I talked about has come to pass. I talk about politics a lot and keep abreast of what’s happening in the world and society. I have kids and I’m concerned.
We are all concerned.
Yeah, we are all concerned. I said all of this 30 years ago. What’s happening in the country, racial tension, ….what I said then is coming to fruition. I’m Christian, I’ve been in church a long time and I believe in God and I believe in faith, but I never thought I’d be a gospel singer. I mean you really have to be a great musician to be a gospel musician. I love gospel music. Growing up I listened to a lot of gospel music. Soul and R&B, that’s where I want to stay.