Friday, August 13, 2010

Tell It To Her Heart: Taylor Dayne

She'll always love singing

Dance diva Taylor Dayne celebrates more than 20 years in the music biz with a free show at Americana at Brand

By Carl Kozlowski

Most dance-music divas come and go like the wind. Anyone remember Expose? How about the Spice Girls? Even the Pussycat Dolls have managed to implode after one hit CD. Yet Taylor Dayne is one of the smart and lucky ones, having parlayed a fervent gay following and continued overseas popularity to keep touring worldwide more than 20 years after bursting onto the pop charts with her hit song “Tell It To My Heart.”

In fact, the New York native just returned from performing in a packed stadium of 25,000 fans at the Gay Games international sports exhibition in Cologne, Germany. Amid working on a greatest-hits collection in which she’ll re-record 10 of her biggest hits and four new songs, Dayne is continuing to tour stateside, including a free show at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Americana at Brand in Glendale. Dayne spoke with PW by phone from her home in New York about the keys to her success and the joy she’s received from being a mother for the past few years.

“What drew me to singing is that, like anything someone loves, I turned on the radio as a child and I could sing along with any artist, and I got good at it,” says Dayne. “Your life’s dream always starts with something you’re good at, and then you excel and have pride in it. As a child, I held on to singing with two hands and never looked back.”

Dayne began singing professionally with bands after graduating high school, but established herself as a solo artist after finishing college. By the time she was 25 in 1987, she had released her debut CD for Arista Records and managed to score four Top 10 hits off of it: “Tell It To My Heart,” “Prove Your Love,” “I’ll Always Love You” and “I’ll Be Your Shelter.”

By the time her initial hot streak of singles ended, Dayne had managed to land seven Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Yet it’s her base of club fans, rooted strongly in the gay community, whom Dayne is particularly thankful for, as evidenced by not only her Gay Games concert but her performances in nine Pride Festivals across the US this summer.

“You take a powerful female voice with a couple of hits and you’re moving in that territory [of gay fans],” says Dayne. “There’s an identification they have with female artists of that nature. Mix classic dance-pop with a big voice, and I certainly have a hell of a hairdo, plus I’ve worked this relationship and put out music consistently for 22 years — that all speaks to that audience. And in the artistic community, that’s the most loyal audience outside the one for the Grateful Dead.”

Dayne has also made time for a side career as an actress, having performed on Broadway in Elton John’s “Aida” stage musical in 2001 and acted in independent films such as “Fool’s Paradise,” “Stag” and “Jesus the Driver” in addition to Warren Beatty’s big-budget film “Love Affair.”

She is actively involved in charitable work and serves as a representative of the Dream Foundation, which grants special life wishes to terminally ill adults in the same fashion that the Make-a-Wish Foundation helps dying children. She also has testified to members of Congress on the importance of public-school music education on behalf of the National Association of Music Merchants.

But it’s motherhood that is the most important aspect of her life these days, since she had a surrogate mother deliver twins eight years ago.
“Motherhood is a complete joy, and it’s filled out my life in such a way that there ain’t a dull moment,” she laughs. “I went for one and I got two, and I’m a single parent. I come out and speak when asked for a lot of gay groups with the movement and gay couples trying to parent. As an ally in the heterosexual community, here I was having a surrogate just like they often do, and that was ahead of its time. But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to be a mom, and that’s the best thing in the world to me.”

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