‘Beautiful music’ as Dione Taylor plays the Stage

MORRISBURG – She’s been nominated for Juno and Gemini awards: her albums Open Your Eyes and Born Free (2015) have won both critical and popular acclaim.

She sang at the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards 25th Anniversary as part of Ottawa’s Canada Day 150 celebration this summer.

She performed at the White House for President Bush and for Queen Elizabeth II at the 2005 Saskatchewan Centennial.

She has staged extraordinary concerts at venues throughout Europe and across North America.

And if that’s not enough, this preacher’s daughter from the heart of the prairies was part of the National Arts Centre grand re-opening in 2017, when she sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with the NACO.

On Saturday, January 20, Dione Taylor, an incredible blues/jazz/gospel vocal powerhouse, backed by her group the Backsliderz, will be at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, Upper Canada Playhouse, 7 p.m. for one concert only.

In spite of a crowded professional schedule, and the demands of releasing a new CD in the fall of 2018, Dione Taylor is upbeat and outgoing. A conversation with this multi-gifted artist is filled with laughter.

She’s been a professional musician for about 15 years now, and is well aware of the challenges of a life constantly spent on the road, in the studio, on the concert stage. However, her passion for singing has never wavered.

“I love singing. It is the safest and most beautiful way I know to express myself and to connect with others,” Dione explained. “Yes it can be tough, but I think this life chooses you. I mean, if you knew about the heartaches and difficulties in advance, who in their right mind would choose to be an entertainer?” she added laughing.

“But mine has been a beautiful journey. It’s a joy to be an artist and to share my gift with others along the way.”

Meeting with different people at her concerts, talking to fans, simply writing and singing are what inspires this artist. She does choose, she said, “to NOT watch news” and media sites. “I take what I need to be informed, but many sites focus only on what is ugly. I feel my time is far better served making music.

Music is a joyous place to be. Singing and music really do keep me sane and on the right side of the law,” Dione laughed.

Concert goers and critics alike love how this artist delivers a song. Sandra Whitworth, president of the SLAS, described her vocals as a style that “blends jazz, R&B and gospel…with soul. One of my favourite songs of Dione’s is called ‘Love Is’.”

Dione herself explains that she actually doesn’t like to separate out the genres.

“Blues, jazz, gospel, they’re really all the same, just with different labels. They’re all the truth. One style may just suit the nature of the song better than another. They are all an extension of myself.”

Reared in a musical family in Regina, singing in church as a child, Dione draws on her life experiences when she composes her original works. Blues seem to come out of the prairies themselves.

Gospel is “open and inviting as it is based on unconditional love. “

Frankly I sing in church, out of church, anywhere that people want to gather to listen,” she said.

She has been highly praised for her rendition of Oscar Peterson’s ‘Hymn to Freedom’. And, as part of a Governor General’s Awards program, she worked with the great Oliver Jones, who has become one of her mentors.

Her new CD, still untitled, scheduled for release in the fall, will feature many of Dione Taylor’s original works. She plans to sing some of them, as well as selections from Born Free at her Morrisburg concert, with the talented musicians of Backsliderz backing her up.

With a voice that’s rich and powerful, her vocals shaped by her prairie heritage and the spirituality she grew up with, Dione Taylor in concert will be a true experience for the audience on January 20 at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage.

“Music,” said Dione Taylor, “is the source of everything that is good.”

Tickets for this concert are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. There are still passes available for the second half of the Stage season featuring the East Pointers, Rose Cousins, Rik Emmett and Harry Manx.