Doreen Taylor Part 1 of 2

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Cover Photo: Bobby Quillard

Doreen Taylor can’t wait to see what happens next. And who could blame her? The country-rocker is headlining a larger-than-life tour at sold-out theaters on the heels of a successful album release. And from all appearances, she’s just getting started.

“Every day I wake up and I have to pinch myself because this has happened,” Doreen told us recently. “I mean, that’s relatively very new for me, and it still hasn’t sunk in yet. Every day I say a little prayer and say ‘thank you for this, and wherever you want it to go is where it’s going to go.’”

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Currently, that career path is leading her down a familiar road. Despite a Master’s degree in opera performance, and numerous on- and off-Broadway roles including Christine in “Phantom of the Opera,” Doreen has stayed true to her roots.

Doreen Taylor performing 1“When I started really going through my journey and my path, yeah I had a really crazy start,” she said. “I did a lot of different things. I did Broadway, I did opera and stuff, but in my heart I just wanted to be an original artist and find my voice. Once I started writing my own songs and doing my own kind of original sound that was exactly what came out of me, and it’s been wanting to come out just my whole life, really.”

Doreen was born in rural Alden, New York, 20 miles outside Buffalo. “Country is very popular out there,” she said. “I mean everybody drives a pickup truck. If you took a camera and didn’t say where you were, you would really think that you were down in the south. I just came home about 3 weeks ago, and I hadn’t been out there in a while… and I’m thinking, ‘this is what I think of when I think of country.’ I mean you’ve got the farms, you’ve got the rolling land, you’ve got people who are laid back – it’s definitely not what you think of in quote-unquote New York.”

“Magic,” is her first full-length album of original songs, which she released in 2012. Doreen wrote all the songs on the album.

“I’ve always written,” she said. “It’s kind of been like a secret little skill I could do. Nobody really knew I could do it. Very few people… knew that was something I enjoyed. But to actually go out and put myself out there for the world to hear it, this was the first time I really did that. I just kind of came to the conclusion that my voice needed to get out there. It’s been sitting in there way too long, and I needed to get it out there so it was like the perfect storm,” she said.

“Really I never anticipated this album to have the success that it has. I really just went in to record these songs that were in my head, and I needed to get them out in case I wanted to pass them down to my grandchildren someday, or who knows.”

Teaming up with musicians nearby in Pennsylvania created the perfect environment, and the project “just took off,” she explained. “It was an amazing thing, like I came in with all these songs that had been already written throughout my life, and I never used any of them. “

The songs that ended up on the record didn’t get there by accident. “I wrote the songs for the album. I just was so inspired and it was just flowing out of me that I couldn’t stop it. It was like I was possessed in a weird way,” she said, laughing. “And every day I was writing a new song, and I had to stop myself because it was getting overwhelming. (Follow the Beaver Dam on Facebook and twitter for chances to win a free copy of the CD!)

Doreen Taylor

Photo: Bobby Quillard

“I really worked closely with a guy named Joe Mass — and he’s played with Bon Jovi, John Mayer. He’s toured with a lot of people and he’s actually in my tour now. He’s incredible. When we got together, and I came in with the melody and the words; he just took what I had and made “Magic” quote-unquote. And it was really just a perfect marriage. He was definitely rock-n-roll, I was definitely country; and together we made this amazing sound.” Buy the CD here. Purchase downloads here.

She’s taken that sound to the stage in a big way. “I really wanted to translate that vision onto the stage. And plus I have the Broadway background. I have the Vegas background. And I said, ‘Why am I running away from that? Why am I not embracing it and bringing the best qualities into my own show?’”

She continued, “So I teamed up with this great guy, David Pedemonte. He kind of fell out of the sky like an affirmation. I don’t know how he came into my world but he did. And we sat down and we created this amazing vision. He listened to what I said and he made it come out on the stage. We have actors, we have dancers, we have special effects. We even make it snow at one point. It’s a very amazing visually stunning show. You have the music behind it, so it’s really like a story.”

In November, she takes an acoustic version of the same show to Don’t Tell Mama NYC (343 West 46th St., if you’re in the area). As much as she likes the glitzy full-blown production, she loves doing the acoustic show — “Doreen Taylor Stripped” — even more. “I’m singing and I’m kind of showing you my soul and I like it better because it really is able to translate the songs the way I wanted them to be.”

“Actually we (first) did it on the Strip in Los Angeles. We did it at the House of Blues. So that’s where it got its name kind of. And it’s very different – it’s my show, it’s the exact same show only completely unplugged. And it’s really, very cool.

Doreen’s next full production show, however, is coming up Oct. 20 in Buffalo at Asbury Hall (Buy tickets here $22.50-$77.50). The singer plans to donate all the profits to Andrew’s Army, a non-profit organization she feels a special kinship with.

“Actually, it’s a beautiful story,” she said. “It was a past high school teacher of mine, her son tragically passed away in a car accident about 3 years ago. And ever since I heard that I said, ‘I have to do something.’ And it took 3 years but I finally found something to do to help.”

Andrew’s Army raises money to promote awareness for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. “They did donate his tissue and it saved two other people’s lives – two children. So his story is really inspiring. The crazy part is I’m asking (the former teacher) if I can do this, and we were talking back and forth, and she asked the day of the show and I said October 20th. And she just said, ‘I’m speechless. That’s the anniversary of his accident.”

Doreen said, “It’s like the angel looking down. I wanted to do it the week prior. I was forcing for the weekend of the 12th and really trying to make that happen and nobody could do it, not the venue, not my band, not my tour manager. Nobody could make it happen. It was like everything was forcing us to (the 20th). I never do a show on a Sunday, and that’s a Sunday. Those are the affirmations and the things that happened that you can’t deny.”

Doreen’s other charity work is admirable as well. Most recently, she was named honorary chairperson for the Big Brother Big Sisters gala in Pennsylvania in November. “I was so honored they picked me,” she said, “because they’ve picked some amazing people in the past and they wanted me to do it this year and that alone – that’s why I do what I do.

“The fact that I can use my name and my music to help a cause like that is just outstanding. That’s the biggest blessing of them all.”

Spoken like a true country girl.

Watch Doreen Taylor’s video for “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.

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