Ask jazz vocalist, Dena Taylor, about turning 62 in October and the relevancy of her music in an age of youth and she'll first respond with one of the brightest smiles you could imagine then she'll shake her head and will, most likely, respond that she hadn't counted on making it to 62 no less still making music. A jovial spirit with a contagious robust laugh is what you will find if you're fortunate enough to spend any time with her.
Taylor spent twelve years abroad in the military, combining her years of service with a series of low-profile concert and event gigs. She also accepted invitations to sing with touring USO shows whenever it was compatible with her military schedule.
Taylor's road to success has been hard-won, even inspirational. Upon leaving the military, Taylor found herself in a violent car accident that left her with a severe brain injury requiring a full two years to regain her ability to speak and walk again. And, since that time, she has also waged her own personal battle against breast cancer.
Having relocated to Florida, she returned to the stage as one of the gold-star cast members of the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse. From there, she went on to establishing herself as a solid solo performer. Her pairings with some of the regions finest musicians resulted in her award winning CD, Round Midnight, made with Ron Teixeira, Ron Pirtle and Dave Dunscombe.
Besides her own bands, Dena & Company (with notables Ron Teixeira, Dave Dunscombe and John Fitzgerald) and Troika (with gifted Hammond B-3 artist, Kenny Clarke, and drummer Dave Dunscome), her reputation also made her a frequent guest vocalist of visiting national jazz and blues groups.
Taylor was named one of the Top Five Vocalists in the SingersUniverse "Best Vocalist Of The Month" Competition just prior to relocating to Austin, Texas in January of 2009.
Now based in Austin Texas, she went to work on her second award winning CD, Certitude, which was released in March of 2010 and includes notables Grammy winner Redd Volkaert and Ernie Durawa. One of the tracks from this effort, Song for My Father, was rewarded with an IAIRA Certification of "International Top 100 Hit" shortly after its release.
In addition to the donations that Taylor makes from all of her CDs to the charities of her choice, she also recorded and released several minis in 2013 specifically to support charities: Hymns for Hunger, a collection of 3 hymn standards with Grammy winning guitarist Redd Volkaert & Hello in There (the devastating John Prine song about the loneliness of the elderly) featuring Austin’s Jon Emery. Both of these minis benefit Feeding America's Give a Meal ($1 = 9 meals); It's Christmas, a collection of Christmas songs with notable guests Grammy winning guitarist Redd Volkaert and David Chao, pianist of the Central Time Jazz Collective. These tracks benefit The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund. Taylor lost her service dog, Sonny, to cancer several years back so this is a very personal cause; on 11/15/13.
As for the new standards CD, The Nearness of You, to be released February 14, 2014. When asked about it, that grin breaks across her face and she can barely contain her enthusiasm! Guest artists include Grammy winner Redd Volkaert, Rick McRae, Ernie Durawa, David Chao and others.
Taylor lends her personal support to a number of causes that support others who have endured adversity or are in the midst of their challenges and it is a testament to Taylor's talent, however, that her sound never seems "preachy." Rather, the adversity Taylor has faced personally lends her voice a hard, knowing edge - like that of a Gladys Knight at her prime - that gives her music a ripened maturity so many pop stars lack.
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