In the late 80’s Taylor Dayne took the world by storm with a strong, outspoken image: aggressive looks, passionate lyrics, big lips, massive hairdo and a powerful voice. Over the years she toned down her image with continued chart success, while also taking up acting.
Born Leslie Joy Wunderman March 7, 1962, Taylor grew up in Baldwin, Long Island, listening to everything from R&B to Rock ‘n Roll. Influences came from the likes of Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The O’Jays and Bill Withers to Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Taylor allegedly made her stage debut in the fourth grade performing a stunning rendition of Jacques Brel’s 'Carousel’.
Attending Baldwin High School, Taylor took voice lessons and classical training.
She went on to study music theory and composition at Nassau Community College and also earned a degree of philosophy graduating at CW Post.
Taylor joined her first band, Long Island based ‘Felony’, after graduating high school. This is where she got her first taste of recording studios. She spent two years with the band before joining new wave group ‘The Next’ for another two years.
Taylor earned her wages singing Russian folk songs at a nightclub on Brighton Beach, where she first met English producer Ric Wake. He was handed a tape by one of his friends. Wake liked what he heard and agreed to produce a couple of songs for Taylor.
While working with Wake, who produced dance hits for acts such as Hunter Hayes, Taylor spent time in the studio singing background vocals. Check out 'Are You Wid It’ by Private Possession, a single released in 1986, or Rhonda Parris' 'No No Love’, released a year later. NY-based all female rock band Envy released their debut - and only - album ‘Ain't It A Sin’, with Taylor providing background vocals, in 1987. The album was produced by Twisted Sister's Dee Snider.
Taylor recorded two tracks with Ric Wake under the name Les Lee, an adaptation of her real name. 'I'm The One You Want’, an underground hit, and ‘Tell Me You Can Love Me’ were recorded on a small independent label, Megabolt. Soon after the label dissolved.
The next collaboration with Wake became the smash hit ‘Tell It To My Heart’, which started Taylor off on a wave of success. It was actually Taylor herself who came up with the track by calling Chappell Music, asking for some rejected songs. At first it was recorded on another independent label, until Clive Davis (Arista Records) heard it. Dee Snider of Twisted Sister dubbed the singer Taylor. Dayne was picked from a name book for babies. The rest is history.
Taylor’s debut album was wrapped up in a mere six weeks. It showed Taylor’s diversity as an artist yielding her another three top ten hits and going double platinum. The success of the album opened a lot of doors for Taylor. In the summer of 1988 she was invited by Michael Jackson to open for the European leg of his ‘Bad’ tour. Kim Wilde had to leave the tour for a number of weeks and as Taylor was enjoying chart success world wide she was asked to join.
Where other artists often go wrong, Taylor proved she had staying power with the release of her sophomore album ‘Can’t Fight Fate’, also going double platinum. Its four Top 40 singles include her first Billboard number one ‘Love Will Lead You Back’.
Taylor’s 1993 release ‘Soul Dancing’ set off to a perfect start as the lead single ‘Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love’ made it to the top 10 in most countries. On the downside however, Stateside the single only made top 20. Though album sales were not disappointing, music industry was edging more towards Hip-Hop and alternative sounds. The partnership with Arista froze and came to an end, due to ‘creative differences’.
Before venturing on new projects musically, Taylor pursued an acting career both on the big screen as on television and on theatre stages.
She made her acting debut in the Warren Beatty/Annette Benning film ‘Love Affair’.
Though a small part, the role was significant enough to launch Taylor into several other interesting projects. At Town Hall in New York City she performed the lead role Mehitabel in the stage production ‘Archy and Mehitabel’, an adaptation of the 1950’s Broadway play. In 1997 Taylor had a successful run on Broadway as Princess Amneris in the Disney musical ‘Aida’.
Moving to Los Angeles, Taylor starred in the independent film ‘Fool’s Paradise’ and in the HBO film ‘Stag’.
Expanding her acting resume, Taylor appeared in television series such as ‘Nightman’, ‘Martial Law’ and ‘Rude Awakening’.
No longer tied to the Arista contract, Taylor released a fourth full length album ‘Naked Without You’ on her own Neptune label, distributed through River North Records. The album got the deserved attention and credits, however the craftsmanship of Thunderpuss duo Barry Harris and Chris Cox turned the title track into a worthy club anthem.
In the following years Taylor contributed a couple of tracks to motion picture soundtracks, including her contribution to the soundtrack to the movie ‘Flawless’, ‘Planet Love’, which also made its way to the top slot of Billboard’s Dance Music/Club Play chart.
In 2005 she participated in VH1’s series ‘Re-making’, giving her the opportunity to work with top producer Rodney Jerkins, aka Darkchild, the man behind ‘The Boy Is Mine’ (Brandy & Monica), ‘You Rock My World’ (Michael Jackson), and a string of other smash hits. Result of this collaboration is the vibrant song ‘Right Now’.
The following year Taylor was back on television in Celebrity Duets, where professional singers team up with non-singing celebrities to perform duets infront of a live studio audience and a panel of judges. In episodes 4 & 5 - out of 9 - Jai Rodriguez was Taylor's match.
2007 saw Taylor back on Top 10 territory collaborating with dj Manny Lehman on ‘I'm Not Featuring You’.
‘Beautiful’, the first single release of the eagerly awaited 5th studio album was distributed to radio November 2007, with the full set ‘Satisfied’ dropping 5 February 2008, on Taylor's own Intention Music label, distributed by Warner Music Group’s Adrenaline/ADA.
The first single ‘Beautiful’, a return to Billboard's Dance Music/Club Play #1, was inspired by a particular individual, according to Taylor. If you listen carefully his name can be detected in the lyrics.
Tony Duran, who shot the album artwork for ‘Satisfied’, has also directed the video for ‘Beautiful’. This is the first music video he has cut.
Call it what you want ‘Satisfied’ is not a comeback because Taylor Dayne has never really been away, even if the past few years she has concentrated on being a single mother to her twins Astaria & Levi.
On the third season of CMT's Gone Country, Taylor collaborated with Leslie Satcher and Billy Lawson to write her first ever country inspired song ‘Over It Now’.
Since taking part, Taylor has been back in Nashville writing new material, which she would like Country Greats to record. Catch sample snippets streamed of ‘Born To Sing’, recorded in Nashville, and ‘Unchangeable’, recorded in NYC. Look out for Taylor performing these in future Live shows.
2009 brought Taylor back to European stages, performing live in Germany on RTL's Ultimative Chart Show and in Sweden as part of OnStage Goes 80's. Be sure to catch some of the highlights from the Stockholm show and watch the exclusive interview for TaylorDayne.be on the YouTube playlists.
Summer 2010 she performed the single ‘Facing A Miracle’, the Official Anthem for the Gay Games, live at the Opening Ceremonies in Cologne. Check the YouTube channel for clips.
That year RuPaul invited his longtime friend Taylor Dayne to be a guest judge on the very first season of RuPaul's Drag U. The episode is happily titled 'Dateless Divas'…
The Wild West Music single ‘Change The World’ featured in the trailer for the movie The Help. The track was crowned Best Original Song/Score for a Movie Trailer at the 2011 Hollywood Music in Media Awards.
In 2012, Taylor was one of the contestants on the first season of Celebrity Cook-Off, aired on Food Network. Other cook-offs included Aaron Carter, Coolio and Lou Diamond Phillips.
2013 saw Taylor return to Australia for an extensive tour, and to Montreux Jazz to perform at the FREAK OUT! Montreux Dance Party, co-produced by Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson.Other acts included Alison Moyet, Groove Armada, Martha Wash, and Ultra Naté.
That same year, Taylor was inducted into The Long Island Music Hall of Fame, being a Baldwin native. Other inductees included Salt-n-Pepa and Ron Alexenburg, former president of Epic Records.
In Season 8 of Cupcake Wars, Food Network invited Taylor to judge on an epidose (13) entitled 'Taylor Dayne's 80's Party', when bakers battled to serve cupcakes at a VIP kid's birthday do.
Taylor took to Broadway once more in the Summer of 2013, playing Grizabella in the musical Cats at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn, NY, as part of the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, in a production directed and choreographed by Jacob Brent. Based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, the musical features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Eliot, Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe. The power vocalist got rave reviews taking on the sizzling show anthem ‘Memory’, originally sang by Elaine Page and recorded by Barbra Streisand.
Musically a new song ‘Floor On Fire’ became Taylor's 18th Top 10 chart single, which peaked at number 7 on Billboard's Dance/Club Play Songs.
Taylor co-wrote the song with Australian artist Tania Doko and Swedish songwriters Niclas Kings and Ivar Lisinski. A total of eight different mixes (including The Thin Red Men, Zoned Out and Marc Lime & K-Bastian ao) are available.
In 2015 singer-celebrity and social activist Sir Ivan - aka Peaceman - has teamed up with Paul Oakenfold who produced his latest single ‘Kiss All The Bullies Goodbye’, which features vocals by Taylor Dayne. Remixes come courtesy of Tracy Young, FORD productions, Paul Oakenfold, Tony Moran and Ralphi Rosario ao.
Following the single ‘Dreaming’, and the Sott Alan colabo ‘I'm Coming Home to You’, comes more new music. The new anthem is an anti-bullying effort and raises awareness for LGBT youth.
On the little screen, episode 14 of the eighth season of The Millionaire Matchmaker starred Taylor alongside Kenya Moore. Patti Stanger tries to find Taylor her true and everlasting love.
After touring extensively in support of ‘Greatest Hits Live’ and starring in Dee Snider's very first musical Rock & Roll Christmas Tale in Torronto, Canada, Taylor recorded a song with long time pal RuPaul. The start of RuPaul's Drag Race 2016, March 7th (Taylor's birthday), set a release date for Ru's album ‘Butch Queen’. Taylor features on the track ‘Be Someone’.
Remember Action Bronson? In episode 10 of The Untitled Action Bronson Show Taylor gets her hands dirty in the kitchen once more. This episode also stars Andrew Zimmern.
2018 marked the 30th Anniversary of Taylor's debut. A ‘Deluxe Anniversary Edition’ is now available. The track list includes a mix of older hits and more recent tracks such as ‘Dreaming’, as well as a new remix - Tommorowland style - of ‘Tell It To My Heart’ and a laid back R&B version of ‘Love Will Lead You Back’.
Valentine's Day 2019 saw the release of Taylor's first book publication ‘Tell It To My Heart: How I Lost My S#*t, Conquered My Fear, and Found My Voice’. At the 2016 TEDWoman conference Taylor first talked about her struggles, inspiration, and finding her voice. The Memoir, with Dave Smitherman, looks at Taylor's musical journey, both as an artist and a professional business woman. Out now.
And according to Billboard, the current single ‘Live Without’ - a contemporary electro dance track featuring DJ Avedon - "gives an exciting peek into the future of the unstoppable force of Taylor Dayne. Available to stream or download now.