Get Ready World....Taylor Kent!
Author: John Cranford | Photographer: Krizstian Lonyai
There is something outstanding about watching a musician truly come into their own space and sound. Taylor Kent has come a long way since I first met her at Greg Critchley’s recording studio a few years back.
Not only did she put out an excellent record with Critchley, she also became a staple of the Hilton Head Music Scene.
In early May, Kent dominated the CH2/Swampfire Records Rock The Triangle competition, pulling in a ton of digital plays during the preliminary round and basically having the entire student body from Hilton Head Prep cheering her on during her performance on May 8. It was a moment that really made me smile and reminded me why music is one of the most powerful forms of art out there. Kent had over 100 friends, classmates, family and fans packed into the small courtyard between One Hot Mama’s and The Lodge. From the side of the stage, all I could see were signs that said “We love you Taylor” and mouths signing along to all her songs.
Kent took home first place that evening, winning herself a cover story (which you are currently reading), two thousand dollars in cash, a concert at the Tiki Hut and some studio time at Swampfire Records. She won the contest with her fan turnout and strong social media presence, but she also earned some respect from her contemporaries for her talent, songwriting, and confidence in front of the mic. Kent has come a long way in the past few years, and as she moves to Nashville this fall to study at Belmont University, she has a community rooting for her and hoping she hits a home run in Music City USA.
Kent has come a long way in the past few years, and as she moves to Nashville this fall to study at Belmont University, she has a community rooting for her and hoping she hits a home run in Music City USA.
But before she takes off in the fall, Kent has a full schedule this summer, playing locally both solo and in her new duo project with Sara Burns, The Gypsy Bleu’s. Kent had a big month this May with taking home the Rock The Triangle victory and graduating high school, but she also had some time to answer a few questions about being a young woman in the music business, her future and the state of the music scene here on Hilton Head Island.
John Cranford/CH2: What was that singular moment in your life when you realized you wanted to be a songwriter and musician?
Taylor Kent: It may sound weird, but I don’t think I had a singular moment. Becoming a musician has been what I have wanted for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of singing and putting on little shows after dinner in the living room. I started writing songs when I was five, and I had a journal that I would put all of my lyrics in. (Thank God that has since been lost).
JC: As a musician who has grown up with Facebook and social media as a viable tool, do you feel like it’s beneficial to your music career?
TK: Social media is actually something that I struggle with in terms of promotion as an artist. I have to remind myself that it’s necessary to get information out to the public on upcoming shows and events. I usually just feel obnoxious when I post, probably because I’m a teenage girl and not a lot of teenage girl singers are taken very seriously. Girls are hard on each other, especially when it has to do with social media. You can easily be judged or ridiculed by what you post. I’m trying to get better though! Hopefully I’ll be able to grow out of this little fear of mine.
JC: As a young woman in an industry dominated by men (at least locally), what challenges have you faced and how have you dealt with them?
TK: I really don’t mind being one of the only girls. It gives me a little extra push to do all that I can to try to be one of the best (I’m a little too competitive sometimes…) I think that I’m lucky, because with the music scene here, everyone is very supportive of one another, so it hasn’t really mattered that I’m a girl, or that I’m a little younger than everyone else.
JC: Who are some of your biggest influences?
TK: I like a lot of the artists from the ’60s and ’70s, the ones like
Stevie Nicks and John Denver who have an honest, pure way of writing. I really respect that. I also love the Eagles. Then of course I feel like I’ve been influenced by a lot of the country singers from the ’90s like Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks.
JC: You have a dedicated and strong local following. How have you obtained such a great fan base?
TK: I’ve been so fortunate with my friends here; they are so supportive and so eager to spread the word to others as well. My school has helped a lot with that, too. A lot of great people have given up a good bit of their time to come hear me play at various places. I’ve been doing gigs here on the island for four years now, and over those four years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet people who really want to see me succeed. They know that music is such a big part of me and how big my dreams are, and they are willing to do whatever they can to help me achieve those dreams.
JC: What’s the best part about being a musician on Hilton Head?
TK: I love how much music the island has to offer. After a while, you all sort to get to know each other, and then you have options almost every night, like “Oh tonight we can go listen to Nick (Poulin) at Aunt Chiladas and then Friday Sara (Burns) is playing at Beach Club, and then Saturday Cranford Hollow is out at Tiki Hut.” For someone who loves music as much as I do, it’s a pretty cool thing to be able to go listen to all of my talented friends whenever.
JC: What are your future plans now that you are out of high school?
TK: In August, I’ll be moving out to Nashville to start school at Belmont University and major in songwriting. I’m really excited to get over there and learn about the industry as much as I can while trying to network and make connections. It’s going to be crazy being in a place where everybody wants to do the same thing that I do, but I think it will be good for me.
JC: Is there a particular artist or producer out there you would like to work with?
TK: This is hard, I don’t know if I can choose. I’ll take whatever I can get, really. I’d love the chance to get to observe different artists when they are writing though, so that I can see the different methods and tactics they use. Writing can be so individualized, I feel like there are so many ways to go about it.
JC: Are you nervous or excited to leave Hilton Head?
TK: A little of both, of course. Hilton Head has been really good to me, and I’ve been given great opportunities here that have allowed me to really get a better sense of who I am as an artist and what I would like to accomplish. It’s hard for me to let go of things, so it’ll be difficult. I think it’s about time to move on, though.
JC: Do you have any advice for young women out there pursuing a path in music or songwriting?
TK: Hmm. I’m not sure if there’s a way for me to say what I want to say without sounding cliché. I’ve always been a little too much of a dreamer for my own good, but in a way I guess that’s not a terrible problem to have. I think it’s very important to have big dreams. Set high standards for yourself, and if you’re going after what you really want, then don’t stop no matter what.
For more information on Taylor Kent, please visit facebook.com/TaylorKentMusic.