Singing News - September 2010
They’re On A Mission
by barbara huffman
IT’S HARD TO beat family harmony. And when that family happens to be four young, energetic siblings who love Southern Gospel music and ministry, it’s easy to see why the Taylors are garnering much attention these days. Winning first place in the group division of the 2008 NQC Talent Competition has proved to be a great launching pad for this quartet, as the group is now a Top Ten Horizon Group nominee in the 2010 Singing News Fan Awards. With great vocal ability, youthful appeal, and an enthusiastic desire to sing and touch lives with the Gospel, there seems to be no stopping this young family.
Growing up, the Taylors attended a small country church where their father, James, was the pastor and their mother, Sandra, was the minister of music. It was around the church piano that they first learned four-part family harmony.
“Mom would put us in every choir she assembled,” recalls Jonathan Taylor, “and she’d have us sing special music if there wasn’t anyone else to do it. We learned harmonies around age 10 or so, and our parents and grandparents were very supportive of our love for music.
“Those days in the church became the foundation of our music today. We learned the basics there.”
Groups like the Crabb Family, Martins and Isaacs—all families with tight harmony—were big influences on the Taylors early on. Later, the Hoppers and Gaither Vocal Band would also influence the family’s music. But it would be a trip to the famous Steve Hurst School of Music that would forever change this family’s life.
“A group came to sing at our church and I fell in love with what they did,” explains Jonathan. “I remember asking them how I could learn more about Southern Gospel music, and they recommended I go to the Steve Hurst School of Music. So, five years ago, I went to the school by myself. I came back from that experience on fire and I told my brother and sisters, ‘We have to go back next year—all of us!’
“I told them that we were going to sing and have a group ministry and I had so many big ideas and dreams. But that’s where it all began, and this month, we are celebrating four years of full-time music ministry.”
Jonathan says that the school provided not only a great musical foundation and a learning experience about the music itself, but it also networked him with some wonderful mentors and friends that he will always treasure. “I’ve had incredible influence by such people as Mark Trammell, Debra Talley, Gary Casto, and the Pfeifers,” says Jonathan. “It’s more than just vocal training—it’s like a revival. AndI feel like I can call up people like Mark, Gary, and Tony Greene for advice, and they are so nice to talk to and so helpful. They sincerely want us to succeed, and I just want to be a sponge and learn as much from them as I can. And it’s so wonderful to know that they are willing to help young groups get started.”
The Taylors consist of Jonathan Taylor, who is 23 and sings lead. His brother/sister twins join him—Christopher, who sings bass, and Suzanne, who sings alto. They turn 21-years old next month. Youngest sister, Leslie, is 19 and sings soprano. The Taylors have two older brothers, Jim and Matthew, who do not sing, but are active in church and are a great support to the family quartet.
The Taylors have made it a point to surround themselves with people and events that are quality in the Southern Gospel business. Just like entering that 2008 NQC talent search and attending music school, they have made wise choices in making the most of every opportunity they’ve been given. They are no less diligent in their recording efforts. Having been courted by several labels in the industry, the Taylors are taking their time in making the right choice for their group situation.
One choice that was an easy one was to accept the invitation to be represented for bookings by Michael Davis’ Dominion Agency. For a relatively young group to be on one of the premier talent rosters says a lot for this young family. Another easy decision was to bring aboard Jeff Stice as producer for their latest recording that is currently in the works. By including both new songs and some classic remakes of songs that were popular 25 years ago, the Taylors hope to pay homage to the history of great Gospel music of the past, as well as to put their fresh spin on things.
One passion dear to this group’s heart is their side ministry called “Taylors On Mission,” which is an outreach that brings their message of the Gospel full-circle. They go into various areas and share the Gospel away from the stage. Their devotion to helping communities throughout the world through Christian service is admirable and speaks to this family’s passion for putting legs on their message.
An example of one successful trip is their recent missions effort to Vermont, which is the most un-churched state in the country, with only about 2% of the population professing to be Christians. The Taylors went there to witness to the folks of that state and 62 people made first-time professions of faith. You can find out more about this group’s mission work and their music ministry by visiting their website at thetaylorsmusic.com.
With so much happening so fast to such a young group of folks, it might be easy to get caught up in all the excitement and begin making careless choices about their future. Not so with the Taylors. It is with very specific goals and with a lot of seeking the Lord and Godly mentors that this group moves forward.
“It is our desire to sing music that honors the Lord and that people enjoy,” states Jonathan. “We are very cautious in making decisions and we pray a lot before we act on those decisions. We want our group to be what the Lord wants us to be. If it becomes anything other than that, then it’s wrong for us. We certainly want to be all we can be and do our best and achieve great things, but if God is not in it, it means nothing.”