By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Sometimes, when 17-yearolds sing, it’s nice — but there’s only so much of it you can take. In the case of Tayla Grace, her voice is so strong, so powerful, so professional, one can’t help but wonder just how soon it will be before she makes it big in the music industry.
One can only imagine that it won’t be too long before her songs are on the radio — or she’s singing on “American Idol.”
And it’s all because she’s been involved in the arts since she was a young girl. And it’s all come full circle with her first-ever album.
The Observer was introduced to Grace last week at a groundbreaking ceremony in Harrison.
The 17-year-old high school senior says it was the choir she was involved with from an early age until she turned 15 that allowed her to realize she’s extremely talented musically.
“But even before that, I was the one, as a youngster, performing for the family,” Grace said. “I was the one singing at family events, things like ‘I’m a Little Tea Pot.’ It always gave me a spark to perform. And even though I was into all kinds of sports as a kid, nothing was as important as music.”
When she came to that realization, Grace says she gave up on sports.
“The real focus, then, was on music,” she said. “When I was 8 to 15, I learned so much from the choir I was in. It was a great experience, but then, at 15, I knew it was time to move on.”
At 15, Grace started taking voice lessons from a professional vocal director. She also took piano and guitar lessons.
“My vocal director told me I had a gift,” Grace said. “It was around that time I wrote my first song, and she told me I had to put music to it. That’s precisely what I did and I loved every second of that process.”
A few years later, after the tragic death of her best friend, Josh, Grace knew it was time for an album.
She wrote a song for Josh called “God Sent Love,” and from there, it all branched out into an entire album.
“I found a wonderful studio and the people there were great,” she said. “I had no nerves. No anxiety. I was just at peace and loved being in the studio.”
But that peace didn’t last too long, and that’s because the studio she was using to record abruptly shut down. Grace would have to restart the entire process.
“But as one door closed, another opened,” he said. “And in the time in between the two studios, my voice developed more and got stronger. So it all happened for a reason. In reality, I wasn’t ready really at the first studio, and by the time I went elsewhere, I really was ready. So it was all a blessing in the end.”
But then she got her real break — a chance to head down to Tampa, Fla., for a musical bootcamp called “The Broadway Theater Project.” Some call it the Harvard of musical bootcamps. And a bootcamp it was, indeed, Grace says.
“It helped me to develop who I was — my image,” she said. “When I tell you it was a bootcamp, I mean, it was a bootcamp. For three straight weeks, seven days a week, it was up at 8 a.m. and bed at 11:30 p.m., with no breaks. It’s the military of the Broadway world because we learned what the Broadway world is all about.”
It was so rough, at one point, Grace wasn’t sure she wanted to even complete the camp. She left for a day, and got a text message from the camp’s director.
“It said ‘I believe in you. So does the rest of the staff,’” Grace said. “So I went back and finished it all — and was much better off because of it.”
The soon-to-be high school graduate isn’t sure what lies ahead, but she did say she’s considering going to Carnegie Mellon University for its musical program. She might even apply to the Julliard School in New York. But it’s all in the hands of someone else now, she says.
“If it’s God’s will, I will make it big,” she said.
And with the kind of talent she has, something tells us that’s exactly what will happen.
Find out more about Grace and her new album by logging on to www.TaylaGrace.com.