It was almost exactly three years ago that I recorded my debut album Awake Again, which much to my delight and surprise reached #15 on the Folk DJ chart in January 2017. Last week I was back in the studio with FJ Ventre and Jon Shain, the same dynamic duo that recorded and produced that first album. This new project features nine original songs, some written just after that first release, and some very recent. I can hardly express the joy I felt in the studio, and immediately following — I was on quite an emotional high! A lot has happened in the last three years, and all those experiences added up to more comfortable and confident recording sessions. I’m very fortunate to have several talented friends and my dear sister contributing to this album — Barry Gray, Leah Kaufman, and Laurelyn Dossett lent their beautiful voices, and my sister added her expressive and lovely violin. I wish I had more photos to share — I was so engrossed in what was happening in the studio I completely forgot to take them! A few more talented instrumentalists (including FJ on bass) will add their touches before we head into the mixing phase.
If all goes according to plan, the album will be released in early spring. Here’s a peek at one of the songs on the album, “Midnight Prayer,” with Jon Shain on the cuatro. Thanks to Kevin Keister for the video!
Many thanks to Mary Shapiro and Jeff Wolf at Stillwaters Supper and Songs in Marshall, Virginia for having me perform at their beautiful home on September 1 — the outdoor covered stage setup was exceptional. Mary and Jeff were the consummate hosts. Jeff did a beautiful job with the sound — his attention to detail put me blissfully at ease. (Jeff recorded the concert, so a live CD may be in the works!) His drum accompaniment on several of my songs was the perfect touch — and unrehearsed! Mary took care of promotion with her warmth and heartfelt commitment to building their community though music. If you have an opportunity to go to one of their shows, I hope you will.
My experience as a performer was possibly the best I’ve ever had. I had an opportunity to meet almost everyone in the audience before the show started, during the potluck supper beforehand. During the break and after the show, so many came up to me to express their connection to my songs, buy my CD, and share their gratitude for my being there. I felt so welcome, so validated, and so encouraged to keep doing what I love. I plan to book more house concerts in 2019, and am more than happy to travel — if you or someone you know is interested in hosting, please let me know.
On May 25, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to appear on The State of Things, a program on our local public radio station WUNC, that features North Carolina people and issues. Award-winning guitarist and producer Jon Shain joined me for a live interview and a few songs. Listen to the interview.Many thanks to host Frank Stasio and State of Things producer Laura Pellicer, who reached out to me after watching a video of my performance on Hillsborough’s WHUP FM. It was an honor to be in the WUNC studio!
Last August, I met Leah Kaufman at Danny Gotham‘s Pick-n-bow folk music retreat weekend in Durham, NC. We quickly developed a mutual admiration for each others’ songs, and shortly after, began “working” together – getting together to play, share song ideas, and discuss music in general. Leah has been writing much longer than I have — she released her Five Fingers album in 1999, at a time when she’d been performing frequently with a band. After a hiatus, she’s back at it, not only writing but releasing another CD later this year, produced and engineered by the same team I worked with on mine: Jon Shain and FJ Ventre. You’ll hear me on backing vocals, which were pure joy to sing. The CD is flush with talent on a wide variety of instruments — I can’t wait to hear it!
Leah’s songs are sweet, smart, and funny. She can play (guitar and uke!). She can harmonize. She’s a joy to be around. We started performing together recently and have a lot of gigs coming up. We encourage each other to sing better, play better, and perform better. We plan on doing some co-writing, too. If you come out to see us, I think you’ll experience the joy, too.
The next couple of months will be less busy, by design. I like to focus on my family and friends during the holiday season, and I’m also making time to do more songwriting. I have just a couple of performances before the New Year arrives, and am working on 2017 bookings. Please subscribe to my mailing list if you’re interested in getting updates. Remember: music heals!
The CD release party on June 11 was a huge success! Playing to a standing room only crowd, Isabel was joined by producer and guitarist Jon Shain, sound engineer and bassist FJ Ventre, Ed Butler (drums), Lynn Blakey (backing vocals), Tim Stambaugh (banjo and dobro) and Kaye Saunders (piano). The party included a debut of a video for ‘Take Me Flying,’ produced by Parker Bruer.
A show to celebrate the release of Isabel Taylor’s debut CD Awake Again will be held at The Trails community clubhouse, 8920 Coachway (off of Dodson’s Crossroads) in Chapel Hill on Saturday, June 11 at 8pm.
Produced by award-winning songwriter and guitarist Jon Shain and engineered by FJ Ventre (longtime Shain collaborator and bassist for the Swang Brothers, Mary Johnson Rockers, and more), the CD features twelve original tracks on self-reflection, lessons learned, and the path forward. Along with Shain and Ventre, joining Taylor will be Ed Butler (drums), Lynn Blakey (of Tres Chicas; vocals), and Tim Stambaugh (banjo), all highly-respected and accomplished musicians who contributed to the tracks. Read the full press release.
Care to help spread the word? Download and print this 8 1/2″ x 11″ poster and tack it up on your community bulletin board or local telephone pole!
Well, this is it – the cover of my CD, which will be available very soon in all the usual ways: physical CD (with beautiful design by Mark Trinkaus, Pentad Design), CD Baby, etc.
These 12 songs reflect over three years of my songwriting efforts. The CD was produced by Jon Shain, engineered by FJ Ventre, and mastered by Jeff Carroll. Many local and gifted musicians contributed. I am very proud!
Recently, the theme of courage and confidence has come up for me more than once. Those were the words that came to me at a Pinnacle View women’s retreat in September, when I was asked “What is your intention for this weekend?” Courage and confidence were what I wanted to tap into, so I could carry them into the coming months. Courage to take a break from performing and confidence that I would get booked again. Courage to take on the biggest musical project of my life – recording a CD of my original songs – and the confidence to pursue it with the knowledge that I’m doing what I love and I’m ready. Just before Christmas, a friend asked me to write my wish for the coming year on a tag that she would hang on her “wish tree.” I chose to remind myself of those two words again. And then, my daily planner used the same two words in its weekly reminder, on the very week I’m to start recording. Clearly, “courage and confidence” is going to be my mantra for 2016!
In December, I was invited to appear on WHUP FM’sPass the Hat, hosted by Bob Johnson and with fellow guest Dean Driver. The show is archived, and there are a couple of videos: “Fear and Wanting,” and one of my latest, “Hold Her Like Sand,” inspired by a comment the mother of an old boyfriend of mine made to him when he and I dated back in high school. Songwriting inspiration is everywhere!
Leading up to Christmas, I was feeling a little melancholy, missing my family and especially my mother, who passed away almost 10 years ago. I found myself on Christmas morning writing and finishing a song in a couple of hours, something that does not often happen for me. “Christmas Morn” (or maybe “Christmas Sunrise”) will end up on my second CD (that’s confidence talking!).
I’ll announce some shows as soon as the details are worked out. Thanks as always for your generous support. With gratitude and eagerness for what this year will bring,
Carrboro Music Festival at Steel String Brewery, Sept. 27, 2015
Performing with guitarist Joshua Cohen
So…another year of performances is winding down. 2015 has been tremendous fun, with music- and friend-making, and growth in my songwriting, performance, and even guitar skills. I am so grateful to be part of our musician community and to share my passion for singing meaningful songs.
These photos were taken at the Carrboro Music Festival, where Joshua Cohen and I played an almost-all originals set (we perform a jazzy version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”). The beauty of playing the Festival is that the audience really listens – the schedule is packed with great acts all day, and there’s a lot of musical variety to choose from. We had a really nice turnout of friends and newcomers. We made some new friends!
I have a couple of bookings in October (see Dates), and then, as in the past, I will likely take November and December off from performing to focus on other things – family, songwriting, and…working up my songs for my first ever CD! More details on that as they develop – suffice it to say that I’m extremely excited to take this next step in my music career. Thanks for following along and supporting me on my journey!