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  “People often ask me, if you had to choose between acting and music what do you like better.  Of course my answer is always ‘the music is my passion, but when I’m on stage performing I am acting’, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds.  The acting is also a nice mental change, to use the different side of your brain – developing characters and breaking down scenes.  When you’ve been on the road and with music for so long, it’s nice to mix it up and get inspiration from different things.  It brings out a lot of your emotional stuff and it’s really therapeutic... and I like that about it.”

  Music certainly was the dominating element in Tasha Taylor’s concert on April the 12th at in Espoo, Finland.  It was a magnificent evening filled with vibrant, rhythmic music and soulful sounds.  The playlist consisted of both old soul classics, and Tasha’s own material from her two latest albums.  During the hour and a half we could enjoy such uptempo and funky numbers like Who’s Making Love (Johnnie Taylor) and Tell Mama (Etta James) as well as such deep ballads as These Arms of Mine (Otis Redding) and Tasha’s own Wedding Bells and Queen.  On this well-balanced and skilfully constructed set Tasha was backed by Davide Floreno on guitar, Roger Inniss on bass and Olli Ontronen on drums.  “When I’m in Europe, I have a European band.  A lot of the shows I do in the States are one-offs.  I will fly in a day before, the promoter will put a band together for me, they will rehearse before I get there, I send them the charts and MP3s and pray the God they will do their homework.”

  At one point in the show Tasha picked up the guitar herself.  “I’m sort of self-taught.  I’ve been playing for about 10-11 years, and it was something I picked up really for myself – just to have some sort of creative outlet.  If I could play three chords and then write a song, it would inspire me to practice so that I could perform that song in a show.  It was also an opportunity to find my own blues side.  I felt like my little ditties that I had on my guitar could be produced in the blues fashion, so that’s where my latest CD Honey for the Biscuit came from.”

  Tasha’s Espoo gig was one of the five shows she did in Finland this month.  This was her third visit to Finland, her previous concerts here took place in April and December of 2016.  “The Blues Caravan tours were the two first ones, and this time it’s my own tour.  Incidentally, I found a great record shop here in Helsinki, where they sell Johnnie Taylor’s records.  I love the fact that he never came here, but his music is here.”


  “My father’s mother was very sick and had slipped into a coma.  My parents had to go and visit her in Kansas City, Missouri.  My mother was nine months pregnant and she asked the doctors specifically ‘if I fly, will I have the baby’, and the doctors said ‘don’t worry about it’, and - sure enough - I was ready to go and was born there in Kansas City.”  Latasha I-da Harrison Taylor was born on August the 25th and three days later moved to Dallas, Texas, where she grew up.  “Ida is my grandmother’s name, but they wanted to put up hyphen there, and my father’s middle name is Harrison.”  Currently Tasha lives in Los Angeles.

  Tasha has inherited her talent not only from her father, the legendary Johnnie Taylor, but also from her mother, Gerlean Rockett.  “She lives in Los Angeles now, and she’s very supportive.  She comes from a family of thirteen kids.  They are all gospel singers, and some of them are ministers and preachers.  She’s sort of the second biggest influence musically that I had other than my father, because the revivals and the singing in the church was a very big part of her family tradition.  So every other summer we go down to my grandparents in Mississippi and we will have a revival at the church and everyone would sing.”

  “My mother was an entrepreneur and she was a model and an aspiring actress.  She was actually ‘Miss Watts 1976.’  She owned her own record shop in Los Angeles, when she was 24 years old.  She and my father met, and she said she would never marry him, because he had been married before.  She swears that she must have been woodooed by his mother, because she doesn’t know what happened” (laughing).  She was his second wife, and he had two children before from his previous marriage to a woman named Harriet, and two children with my mother.  They ended up in Dallas, and my mother got into the real estate business.” 


  “My dad read a lot.  He was very funny and he had a great sense of humour.  He liked to watch westerns, play pool and barbeque, relax at home and he liked to go fishing.  Of his recordings I love Stop Doggin’ Me, I Believe in You (You Believe in Me), It’s September and of course Who’s Making Love and Disco Lady.  I also like the earlier blues stuff like Little Bluebird and Steal Away.”

  “In my case growing up was different from the other kids that I knew.  I went to a Jewish private school - Greenhill School in Addison, Texas – and most of the fathers of the other kids were doctors and lawyers... and the lifestyle of a musician is not one that is very conventional.  So I think as a kid I felt kind of isolated in my home life perspective, but I was also very fortunate.  I had a fantastic education, and I went to Boston University for college.”

  “I grew up in the wings.  I went to work with dad, and his job happened to be music. I was four years old, when I started performing, but it was in my teens, when I really started to listen to his music, his records, and became a fan   He asked me to pick a song so that we could do a duet, and I chose a song that was on his Good Love CD.” 

  The CD was released on Malaco Records in 1996, and the song in question is Ain’t That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One).  “I chose that song, because I had heard a version that he had done before and he agreed that would be a great song to do.  We went into the studio, recorded that song and from there on a regular basis I would get on a tour bus and - if they were doing the West Coast, or were doing Texas – I would be in the show.”  Johnnie’s original version of the song appeared on Stax Records in 1967.  You can enjoy this father & daughter duet also on a DVD titled Recorded Live at the Longhorn (Malaco, MAL9042901), released in 2004.  The performance derives from August 1997.

  “The only other sibling that was around was my brother Jon.  We grew up in the same house at the same time.  I toured with my dad on and off for about three years.  I was beginning to work on my own stuff, and he was always a great mentoring teacher – helping me, guiding me and advising me on the things I was working on.  After moving out to Los Angeles and getting into television and film, getting into different projects, I just focused on my own thing.”

  Besides her father, Tasha’s other big favourites in the music include, among others, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Bobby Womack, Bettye LaVette and Denise LaSalle.


  In the 1990s Tasha studied for a minute in a drama school, Shakespearean Theater at Boston University.  “I left early, because there was not enough music in my life and I wanted to do both, so I took a leave of absence and moved to Los Angeles, and I started acting and singing there.”  Tasha has become a household name in many TV series since the 1990s.  She has appeared in episodes of Living Single (1994), The Wayans Bros. (1995), The Naked Truth (1997), Family Matters (1994-98), Malcolm & Eddie (1997), Moesha (2000), Strip Mall (2000), One World (1998-2000), 7th Heaven (2001), Couples Therapy (2004), Ugly Betty (2006) and House (2007).

  In addition to TV series, she has acted in such indie films as Dimples in 2008 and Heaven Ain’t Hard to Find in 2010.  Her soundtrack music is featured on TV programs Men in Trees – a song called Stand in 2006 – and Lipstick Jungle.  “In Los Angeles I do television sitcoms, comedy and I’m also getting more and more into drama.  I’m doing a lot of guest star appearances.”


  Tasha is also the featured vocalist on the Blues Brothers’ live shows, with Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd  ( “We got together for the first time in 2004, and I still work with them.  We don’t have any set calendar.  Jim and Dan have many other projects they’re working on.  When they need me, they call me.  It just varies from year to year.  Sometimes it is six months out of the year, sometimes two months out of the year, sometimes it’s a month here and a month there – it just depends.”  Besides performing live, Tasha is on background vocals on a soundtrack called According to Jim by Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts on Hollywood Records (in 2005).

  Another more or less regular entourage for Tasha is Jack Mack and the Heart Attack (Horns) (  “They’re a rhythm & blues band out of Los Angeles, California.  They’ve been around for a very long time, and they have a ‘Rhythm & Blues Revue’ right now.  We did a couple of shows in Los Angeles in February.  It was myself, a harp player Jimmy Z and Arthur Adams” – remember It’s Private Tonight? (

  As already mentioned above, the very first released record that Tasha’s voice is on is the 1996 duet with her father on Ain’t That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One), but after that she has appeared as a guest vocalist on a few other recordings, prior and between her solo albums.  One noteworthy appearance was in Eddie Murphy’s claymation series called The PJs.  “I am the female vocalist on the song Get Involved with Q-Tip and Raphael Saadiq from the R&B group Tony Toni Toné.  This song was the theme song during the opening credits for the series.”


  Revival is the title of Tasha’s very first solo album.  With as many as 20 tracks and total playing time clocking in at 78 minutes, it was released on CD Baby in 2003, while other suppliers have it in their catalogue since 2005.  “It was released independently, and then through me to CD Baby.”

  The music varies from folk soul (There’s a Way) to blues (Stay, Circles), pop (Honey, Working Day, The Other Side, Love Letter), country (Older, Little Miss Suzie) and even rock (Hairdown, Wonder Woman, Diamonds).  In other words, musically it’s a varied set and moves in different directions.  There are some very delightful and memorable songs such as a soulful midtempo floater called Like a Child, a pleading ballad named If Tomorrow Never Comes and two more downtempo songs, the melancholic Slipping Away and the haunting Stand (which, as mentioned above, was chosen for the TV program Men in Trees).

  “I like Revival.  I wrote it.  It was the first record I made.  It was probably a little more unsophisticated back then, because I wasn’t as advanced as a producer and as an engineer working on Protools as I am now.  Those are really good songs and some great ideas.  The intention was to make it kind of futuristic Motown concept.”

  “There’s a man by the name of Brian Lapin, and he was the original producer for the very first version of the band the Black Eyed Peas, so he was sort of established, when I met him.  We produced the record together, and I actually learned all my engineering skills, technical part of Protools and all that stuff just basically watching over his shoulder, when we recorded that CD.  We recorded it basically at my house, so it was very grass roots” (laughing).

  “Basically the record led to a lot of opportunities, to a lot of bookings.  Some of the songs were licensed for television, so that was a really lucrative thing.  It opened doors and helped me to establish and develop my sound as an artist and Honey for the Biscuit is a sort of evolution from that.”


  By the end of 2011 on her own label Tasha released her second solo album, Taylormade, a masterpiece in terms of classic soul music.  It’s very organic music with such notable players as Nathan Watts on bass – he’s also the musical director -, Kerry Griffin on drums and Tasha’s brother, Jonathan, as one of the guitarists.  Four keyboard players are featured on different tracks and altogether there are six on horns.  Tasha herself plays guitar and keys on the set, too.

  Of the sixteen tracks (57 min.) on display, Who’s Making Love - Johnnie Taylor’s gold hit in 1968 – is the only cover, and there are four more funky tracks midway through.  Besides Who’s Making Love, two heartfelt ballads – Queen and Merry Christmas Baby – were shot for videos.  There are still four more slowies: the sweet and melodic Best Friend, the folk-soulful All This Time, the bluesoulful Somebody and the pretty, sentimental Daddy’s Girl.

  Wonder Woman appeared already on Tasha’s preceding album, but here we are treated to a different interpretation.  “It was interesting, because around this time I was really becoming a fan of John Mayer, and I noticed that he recorded songs from one album to the next... but only certain songs.  Those songs sort of became staples.  He kept them in repertoire and took a look at them from a different angle, as far as how they’re produced.  I thought that was a cool idea, because that way the music evolves still leaning on something from the original.  Those songs end up being the ones you perform live year after year.”

  Alongside Tasha, the other credited producers are Stuart Benjamin, Rob Arbittier and Gary Adante.  “Stuart is the person, who sort of financed the record.  He’s my business partner.  He’s first and foremost a film producer.  He produced Ray about Ray Charles’ life, La Bamba about Ritchie Valens and the movie White Nights.  He started out as an entertainment attorney, so he’s also my manager, because with that background he can look over my paperwork.  He’s a huge support.”

  “Rob and Gary were the engineers on Stevie Wonder’s record (A Time to Love) and they were friends of Stuart Benjamin.  They contributed to the actual recording and engineering of this record.  It all starts with me.  By the time I bring the material to them, I’ve done enough work at my own studio at home.  I do my background vocals and editing at home, so by the time I take it to them it still requires sound quality, mixing, mastering, recording my lead vocals and things like that.”

  “Taylormade still sells a lot.  At my shows I’m finding that people want both Taylormade and Honey for the Biscuit, because in the show I have songs from both of them.  Also Taylormade is mine, so I get 100 % of the profits” (laughing).

  Those days there was also talk about a musical called Unchain My Heart.  “That is a project that goes back to Stuart Benjamin.  It is a different script than the movie Ray, but it’s the same producer.  Stuart is basically trying to take that script to Broadway and I came in as a re-cast after the play had been running in the Pasadena Playhouse.  That was right before I met Stuart.  He had three Raelets and he was looking to replace one of the voices and I had just finished a play in Westwood, California.  The drummer in the house band in that play said ‘you need to meet this guy Stuart, because he can help you get a record deal on Stax Records.’  I said ‘STAX RECORDS, you don’t know what you’re saying right now.  I’m interested!’  When I met Stuart, he made a deal and I would be Margie Hendrix in his play.  They’re still trying to get the money together to take it from Pasadena to Broadway, which still is a process that is happening.”

  In 2014 Tasha sang a duet on J.B. Lenoir’s mid-tempo blues romp entitled The Whale Have Swallowed Me on Tommy Castro’s album The Devil You Know.  “There’s something called The Legendary Blues Cruise that happens every year, and Tommy Castro is pretty much a staple on that cruise and I’ve been doing that for about six years.  Tommy saw me there and asked me to come on the road with him and I’ve been doing that on and off for about two-three years now.”


  In March 2016 Ruf Records out of Germany released Tasha’s latest album, Honey for the Biscuit (13 tracks, 49 min.), and once more it features a live rhythm section consisting of such players as Nathan Watts on bass again, Jon Taylor and John Notto on guitars, Don Wyatt on piano and Wurlitzer, Munjungo Jackson on percussion and Gerry Brown, Donald Bruner and Stanley Rudolph on drums.  There’s also a 3-piece horn section consisting of Jamelle Williams, Matthew Demerrit and Lemar Buillary.  The set was recorded in Los Angeles, and Tasha produced and wrote all the songs with a little help from Tom Hambridge and Richard Flemming on three songs.  Tasha also plays guitar, keys and percussion and does the background vocals.

  “I’ve known Thomas Ruf for a long time.  Fifteen years ago he offered me a record deal and it just wasn’t the right timing.  It was strange, how this happened.  I had finished recording Honey for the Biscuit, but it wasn’t mastered and mixed yet, and I got this call from Thomas saying he was looking for the third act for the Blues Caravan.  ‘Do you have something for me to listen to in terms of new music’, and I said ‘yes, I actually happened to finish the record.  I’ll let you hear it.’  He loved the record and worked out the business side of things.  What I really like about Ruf Records is the fact that there is this Blues Caravan tour.  When you sign a record deal, you also have a tour guaranteed, as opposed to 99,9 % of the other labels, where you have the record but you need a booking agent.  Having 150 shows available to you right after you release a record sounds like a good choice for me.”

  Similarly to Revival, Tasha again offers a wide range of different sounds covering various genres.  There are infectious dancers like a loosely running “fiesta” song named Feels So Good, and the groovy Same Old Thing.  She gets funkier on a re-recording of Little Miss Suzie and the fast and rolling How Long.  Poppy ditties this time include the happy-go-lucky Family Tree and the slightly bluesy Places I Miss, whereas on the pure blues front there are Weatherman and Leave that Dog Alone.  Tasha brings the tempo down on That Man and the melancholic and big-voiced Don’t Rush off.  For authentic soul music lovers there are the emotive One and Only and the pleading I Knew

  Wedding Bells has a nostalgic 1960s feel to it.  “As a little girl we’re all told that Prince Charming will show up one day and we all fantasize about that.  Wedding Bells is about being haunted by the idea that you’re supposed to get married and you’re supposed to settle down.”

  Tasha lists Wedding Bells, Family Tree, Weatherman, One and Only and I Knew as her favourites on the set.  “I’m also grateful to those friends , who were kind enough to donate their time on this record: Keb’ Mo on Family Tree, Samantha Fish on Leave that Dog Alone, Tommy Castro on Same Old Feeling and Robert Randolph on Little Miss Suzie.”  Honey for the Biscuit is a precious record and comes highly recommended.

  As has become obvious by now, Tasha is a prolific songwriter and writes her own material.  She actually started writing at the tender age of fourteen.  “These songs are like snapshots from my life; might as well be my diary (laughing).  It took me three and a half years to write this record from beginning to end and produce the record.  It seems to me that people’s attention span is so short now that already one year later you got to come out with some more music.  If I need to be in a certain timeline, it’s hard for me to capture what exactly I want to talk about my life right now.  It’s once you go through those things and you learn your lessons, then you have something to reflect upon.  That’s where the songs come from.”


  Together with two other ladies – Ina Forsman from Finland and Layla Zoe from Canada – Tasha toured all over Europe and the USA in a package called The Blues Caravan.  “That was Ruf Records.  They’ve been doing Blues Caravans for many years.  It’s Thomas’ business model for his label.  He signs a few acts and he puts them together to do shows to support the record.  Back in the soul days in the States – like in my dad’s days – they were doing just that and it was called the Revue.”  There’s also a CD/DVD entitled Blues Caravan 2016/Blue Sisters in Concert on Ruf Records.  That show was recorded on February 22 in 2016 at the Hirsch Club in Nuremberg.

  First I urge you to purchase Tasha’s CDs, and - if she is coming to perform near you - don’t miss her dynamic, energetic and soulful show.  “My future plans are to make more music, more touring and more television and filming.  Right now I’m producing a project about Stax Records with Stuart Benjamin.  I’m playing the lead, Deanie Parker, who actually used to work for my father.  She was sort of the first business head at Stax Records and was also an artist herself.  She was like my dad’s A&R.  She’s the reason why there’s Stax Museum and the Charter School.  I really admire how she has kept the Stax legacy alive.  Jonathan Taylor is actually playing my dad in the play.”

(Interview conducted on April the 11th in 2017; a big thank you to Tasha Taylor)

Tasha with Heikki


REVIVAL (2003)

Stay / Like A Child / Hairdown / Honey / If Tomorrow Never Comes / Southern Girl / There’s A Way / Wonder Woman / Circles / Working Day / The Other Side / Older / Diamonds / Slipping Away / Little Miss Suzie / I Begin / Gypsy / Only For You / Love Letter / Stand

TAYLORMADE (Sing Records/Tasha Taylor Music; 2011)

Intro / Who’s Making Love / Somebody / I Got Love / Queen / What Difference Does It Make / Middle / Wonder Woman / Badman / Refund / Merry Christmas Baby / All This Time / Best Friend / Sexylady / Daddy’s Girl / Outro


Feels So Good / Wedding Bells / Family Tree / Weatherman / One And Only / Little Miss Suzie / I Knew / How Long / That Man / Leave That Dog Alone / Places I Miss / Don’t Rush Off / Same Old Thing

© Heikki Suosalo

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