Western New York singer does it her way
by Joshua Maloni
An opera singer, a model, a showgirl and a cow-tipper.
No, it's not the start of a bad bar joke, but the resumé of an up-and-coming music star.
Doreen Taylor is all of the above - and a pioneer of country funk, to boot. She is a singer, songwriter, actress and advocate; a small-town girl from Alden who lives just outside of New York City and works in Los Angeles. She is a musician with two popular yet wildly opposite videos - "Judgment Day," a philosophical commentary on the world, and "Last Call (for Alcohol)," which is essentially about "beer goggles."
It's a mishmash, for sure, but it works for Doreen. Her free-spirit and creativity is every music lover's fantasy, and every rock reporter and label maker's nightmare.
After 45 minutes of small talk, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't want it any other way.
This desire to be different - to buck any sort of easy tag - began right about the time Doreen finished high school.
"As I got older, I felt like there was something more for me," she said. "I knew that there was something. I needed to go away to school. A lot of my friends stayed in the area. I had to go. I said, 'Something else is out there for me.' I didn't know what at the time, but I always felt that there was something calling me - some place bigger."
After stints in Connecticut and Philadelphia, Doreen, a hard rock and electronic fan, found herself with a master's degree in (of all things) opera.
"I think that I was almost drawn into opera," she said. "My voice - when a teacher will hear you when you go in, and you have this range, you have this ability and this sound, it's more about the flexibility of the voice. A lot of the little bells and whistles that maybe normal singers can't do in other genres.
"So they stuck me in opera because I sounded like it. But they didn't realize that I could sound like almost anything at that time. That's the weird thing about my voice. You know, jack of all trades, master of none, kind of thing. Somebody will hear me and say, 'Oh, you should be the next rock singer.' 'Oh, no, no, no, dance music is your thing,' and then country.
"So, finally I just said, 'I've got to do what I want to do. Where's my heart and what's my voice?' "
While Doreen had the pipes for opera and musical theater, she didn't have the heart for either genre.
"It really wasn't for me," she said. "I didn't know what it was; I think it was my voice. It was me that was missing. I was (singing) Don Giovanni and all these things that wonderful people had written. But I knew something was in me that needed to get out - my music; my voice."
Doreen took her show on the road to Atlantic City and Las Vegas (remember: model, showgirl ... cow-tipper). It was then, while doing a one-woman act, that she found her true musical calling.
"I started seeing that when I would throw in a Shania Twain song or a Martina McBride song or one of the real great country songs from the era, people would sit up all of a sudden," Doreen said. "They love all the rest, but something about that - there was like a spark. ... I started writing some songs, and the rest is history."
"It took me a while to get to where I am now, but I'm so happy. I said, 'Finally I'm home, doing what I'm meant to be,' " she explained.
Of course, this is Doreen Taylor we're talking about. So, her version of country is, well, her version of country.
"When you listen to my music, I'm country, but I'm not country," she said. "I'm country for everyone."
"I wanted to make country for someone like me, who likes the genre, but maybe isn't (into) that real deep south kind of a sound," Doreen noted. "Traditional country people may not like me. But that's OK. As long as I kind of stay true to myself and keep putting out good music ... sorry!"
Doreen is set to embark upon a headlining tour this spring (with an expected stop in Buffalo). Her plan is to take on a local act to open for her at each show. Beyond that, she's continuing to promote her album "Magic," which may also get a remix.
"My personal goal is to really start working with some amazing people in Nashville, and cut some singles down there and release those as well, and start doing some other things that are little heavier hitters," she said.
"(But) I'll still do it my way, like Sinatra said," Doreen pointed out, laughing.
... And for the record, no cows were actually harmed in the making of this career.