by Brian M. Owens for Metronome Magazine • December 4, 2020
(Read the whole issue of Metronome HERE)
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Dulcie Taylor grew up in South Carolina. Influenced by her mother’s love for Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra along with her sister’s rock & roll records while singing in a Baptist church, Dulcie’s musical education was broad and multi-faceted. Her education didn’t end there though. When she was old enough to travel abroad, she found her way to California seeking a better way of life for herself. There, Dulcie began to find her voice. She launched her recording career with a self released CD called, Other Side of The Bed, which received accolades from friends and fans alike. That attracted the attention of record producer George Nauful. Her first album for Nauful’s Mesa Bluemoon label, Diamond & Glass, landed in 2002 and garnered her a WAMMIE (Washington DC Area Music Award) as she received national airplay, charting on the Album Network’s non-commercial AAA format for the release. Since then, Dulcie has been busy making music. With 2.7 million views on her YouTube channel and 193,000 likes on her Facebook page, Taylor’s hard work has paid off. I had a chance to spend an October afternoon talking with her about her extraordinary life as well as her latest 6-song offering, Reimagined. With typical southern grace, class and hospitality, Dulcie guided me through her musical journey…
METRONOME: What made you fall in love with music when you were young?
DT: My family always had something going on. I was raised in a Baptist church and music is a big part of it. I loved the organ player and watching him play. I loved the piano and I sang in the choir. I had an aunt that was a music teacher. My mother always bought all the
Broadway sheet music. We all took piano and stuff. That was fun. We would all sit around the piano and sing. My mother loved Elvis Presley and she loved Frank Sinatra too. I heard everything. Something was always playing.
METRONOME: Did mom and dad play?
DT: No, they didn’t. They tell me that mygrandmother Dulcie had a beautiful voice though. She passed away when I was five.
METRONOME: Did you start singing in a band during your teenage years?
DT: I played the ukulele when I was a little thing. I used to play at Girl Scout camp for everybody (laughs). Then my mother bought me a guitar after a boy sat on my ukulele on the front porch of a cottage we were renting when we were on vacation.
METRONOME: How old were you?
DT: I must have been around ten when the kid broke my ukulele.
METRONOME: Were there any bands or artists that moved you musically as a kid?
DT: God, we had so much different stuff. As I said, my mother was a big Elvis fan so that was always playing. My older sister liked everything: Rock & Roll and Soul music. I liked so much stuff. How about Bluegrass? I could listen to Bluegrass all day long. You either like that stuff or you don’t. It can’t be taught.
METRONOME: What was the first band you played with?
DT: Well, I was solo for quite a while, but the first band I was in was a trio. Guitars and I played dulcimer and harmonica.
METRONOME: It sounds like you were a multi-instrumentalist?
DT: Well, I started on the piano. Nice Southern girls take piano. Of course I played the ukulele and then I got a guitar. After I got the guitar, it seemed so cool to just hold the thing. I played keyboards in some rock bands, but keyboards are a lot of trouble to haul around (laughs). My hat’s off to those people who do it. I did it for a while and I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t stand in line to have to carry that thing around again. Sometimes my producer, George Nauful, and I do a duo show and that van of mine is packed. It’s amazing how much amplification you need for just two acoustic people playing. How much stuff you actually haul.
METRONOME: You moved from South Carolina to California. What prompted the move?
DT: It was a little it of everything. When you’re born in the South, how to eat, how to dress, how to think and how to worship… everything is laid out for you. You don’t even have to have an original thought. It is so tradition bound. I was suffocating. I said, I have to get out of here. So I got in my car and drove to California. I thought it would be cool to move to L.A. so I did. It was like going to the moon.
I remember going in to La Brea Market in Hollywood. It must have been 2 o’clock in the morning. I was standing in line and some woman in front of me had a full length mink coat and bikini on. I thought, This is the coolest thing I ever saw in my life. Thank you God, I’m home.
METRONOME: You spent a long time living in California too…
DT: Oh yeah. Then my husband took a job in D.C. He did his undergraduate at Georgetown. When we moved back, all his friends were still there. It’s a great town. It was old home week for him.
METRONOME: Did you meet him in California?
DT: Oh yeah. I married him in Pasadena.
METRONOME: How did your music career do in California?
DT: I started playing with people and being who I wanted to be as a person.
METRONOME: When did you record your first album?
DT: In 2002.
METRONOME: Was it a solo project or a band effort?
DT: That was on Mesa Blue Moon records and it had a lot of players on it. At that point, I didn’t have a band, but George Nauful, the guy that’s the head of Mesa Bluemoon Recordings, produced it and brought in the players.
METRONOME: Were the songs all original?
DT: I’ve only done one cover in my entire recording career. Everything else has been original.
METRONOME: Does your musical relationship with George continue to this day?
DT: Oh yeah. We play live together. He and his wife came over yesterday and we sat outside and talked. They’re the only people I’ve seen socially in seven months.
METRONOME: When did you leave California and why?
DT: It’s because my husband got relocated with his job. His corporation was going through a lot of internal changes. He was in legislative affairs. The friction was going to be right where he was and he knew it. It was a great chance to move to D.C. and a good financial decision. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed D.C., but when he said he wanted to retire, I said, I don’t care if you quit working, but we’re not staying here. We were going back to California. I had some great experiences playing and touring out of D.C. I did three tours of Texas and went up to Maine. I played a lot and I enjoyed it. It was great, but I wanted to come back to California.
METRONOME: How long have you been back in Cali?
DT: Eight years.
METRONOME: Did you feel when you went back that you had never left?
DT: I didn’t even look back. There’s something about California that I’ve never found anywhere else.
METRONOME: Let’s talk about your new EP, Reimagined. Did the Covid event lead you to revisiting some of your older material?
DT: No, this started before the pandemic hit. I’ve put out six CDs on Mesa Bluemoon Recordings and George [Nauful] just wanted to go back and mess with some tracks. We have another one almost ready to roll. It was like time travel. We pulled up the tracks and listened to them in the studio and it was like time travel. You were right back where you were when you first did it. It was wonderful. It was a lot of fun.
METRONOME: I loved the opening track, “Easy For You.” You also made a video for the song. How did that song come together for you?
DT: When a couple splits up, usually one person has a much easier time of it and that’s just how it is. I remember a girlfriend
saying to me, “He told me he didn’t want children.” That’s why they split up. Within a short amount of time, the new woman he was with was pregnant. Of course you say, Well, he just didn’t want to have them with you, which is a painful thing. It just came out of that. Of course it was more fun to write it not being the person having the harder time.
METRONOME: What inspired the song, “Diamond and Glass?”
DT: I had a dream. You know when you wake up and you’ve just had a dream and you’re not quite sure where you are, cause you’re still in the dream? That was written straight out of a dream.
METRONOME: Did the writing of that song come quickly for you?
DT: Yeah, I got the bones of it very quickly.
METRONOME: How does the songwriting process work for you?
DT: I do it all different ways. Sometimes I write words first and sometimes I start playing something on the guitar and just like how it sounds. I do it all kinds of ways. Generally though, I’ll get a chorus first, then I write a verse to it.
METRONOME: Do you ever work things out on a piano?
DT: Oh yeah. Sometimes you write off of a riff. One of my best songs, “Woman I Used To Be” came from a guitar riff.
METRONOME: I loved your song, “To Be A Fool.” What inspired that tune?
DT: It’s about betrayal and what people go through. You see so much of it. I saw a friend go through that. That’s where that line came out of, “I love you too much for you to ask me to be a fool.” It makes sense to me. I can forgive a lot, but I cannot forgive that. Once you do that, it’s over with anyway. I had an older friend tell me once, “I’ve seen people break up because someone was unfaithful,” and she said, “Neither one are ever happy again.”
METRONOME: Your song “Rainy Day” has a Latin feel to it. How did that song come to life?
DT: I like that music. That’s a more recent tune. We had moved to California and it hadn’t rained in 4 years. We had moved to paradise, but it didn’t really rain. That’s what it came out of.
METRONOME: Are the fires in California effecting you?
DT: We have bad air quality from them, but they’re not close enough. In one week, California had the worse air quality in the world.
METRONOME: “Corazon Frio” is a wonderful tune. What made you write that?
DT: I had a line in my head, “Freezing water surrounds a frozen well.” I had that in my head for a long time. I think it built out from that. I took Spanish in high school and college. I was fluid at one point, but I haven’t used it enough. I have a song called Mal Amor… “Bad Love” on a recent CD. Spanish is such a beautiful language.
METRONOME: I heard Patsy Cline andReba McEntire in your voice. Do you appreciate what those gals have done in country music?
DT: Oh yeah. I can’t say I listen to a lot of Reba, but I listen to Patsy Cline. I don’t consider myself a country artist though. I would say Americana, although I like saying Adult Contemporary which is different. “You and Me” off my new EP is pretty much a jazz tune. Now don’t get me wrong, I like country music. I’ve got some songs that are stone country and I record them that way, but I don’t consider myself a country artist.
METRONOME: You deliver your songs in a very personal way. Do you work on that intentionally or does it just come out that way?
DT: It’s the way it comes out. I wouldn’t know how to work on that. I wouldn’t know any other way to be. I try to be a better singer obviously, but I just do what I do.
METRONOME: Do you have another EP in the works of ‘Reimagined” songs?
DT: Yes. We almost have the thing mixed. It will probably be six songs.
METRONOME: Do you have a working title for it?
DT: I don’t know. I have some new things that I want to cut, but I’m not eager to get back in to the studio. I’m just not ready to get in people’s faces yet. If that makes me a scaredy cat then put my name down on that list (laughs).