CAPA student sings at Grammys

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Awesome is the word that comes to mind when Angelea Erin Taylor recalls her recent trip to Los Angeles to perform as part of an eight-person Grammy Jazz Ensemble during this year’s Grammy Awards.

“I was excited to go to California and perform at the Grammys. That really excited me,” said Angelea, a 16-year-old CAPA High School classically trained junior that resides in Overbook. “We performed at events leading up to the Grammys, including the MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute, which honored Barbara Streisand, and the Grammy celebration after-party. We also recorded at Capitol Studios.”

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DREAM COME TRUE—Angelea Taylor, right, performed with singers from all over the country at the Grammy Awards this year.

Students representing 30 cities in the United States were selected for a week-long unique musical experience under the direction of Justin DiCioccio from the Manhattan School of Music, Ron McCurdy, Ph.D., from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and Leila Heil, Ph.D., of Colorado State University. The Grammy Jazz Ensemble Program has been in existence since 1993.

CAPA’s Vocal Department, where Taylor studies voice, has placed singers in the Grammy Jazz Ensemble Choir four times. CAPA’s Instrumental Department has also placed two instrumentalists in the competition in past years. So it was no stretch to have Taylor add her unique voice to the list of accomplished singers.

“Angelea has always shown a talent for singing at CAPA. She is a good interpreter of songs and shows a good interest in mastering her craft. She is well liked by both faculty and the student body,” explained CAPA Jazz Choir Director, Tim Tucker. “Angelea wasn’t too familiar with jazz. She was able by listening and practice to gain a better insight into jazz as an art form and jazz singing as a performance outlet.”

“I think the quality that makes her stand out is her ability to interpret and do something different with pop, jazz and gospel songs. She also found a new more intense work ethic in the learning process of the Grammy music,” Tucker said. “As a singer of jazz, and gospel, Angelea has to interpret songs as she sings them. One needs to be open and willing to let go and try to embellish while singing. These qualities and the work ethic needed to muster will help her in any career she chooses.”

Angelea said the participants in the choir did not get to meet one another until they reached Los Angeles, but the members of the choir had to sound cohesive once they made it to Hollywood.

“Everyone had their own parts and me and the other Soprano sang together on the phone. During the audition process I had to sing a chorus part and then a jazz tune a cappella. When we got there, we had three days to perform together. It was a lot of hard work,” she said.

Angelea’s Solfeggio teacher at CAPA knew her student was capable of competing in the Grammy Jazz Ensemble.

“Vocally I hear more confidence and maturity. Angelea has come out of her comfort zone and that is always a stretch for any vocalist. She is poised beyond her years and that helps when you are tackling difficult material in jazz like she faced at the Grammy’s,” Etta Cox said.

Angelea began singing gospel music at church when she was three years old.

“She could always hit the note and follow the music,” explained her mother, Robyn Taylor. “She’s been naturally gifted and even though the Grammy’s really stretched her abilities, she really poured herself into it.”

Putting her heart and soul into a song is something Angelea has always done.

“I think it’s great to put your heart into a song. If you execute it well, getting a response from the audience is like a job well done,” she said.

Due to her participation in the Grammy Jazz Ensemble, Angelea and the other participants are eligible for more than $2 million in college scholarships made possible through the Grammy Foundation’s College Partners, which include Berklee College of Music and Manhattan School of Music. In addition, each student’s school received a professional cymbal courtesy of the Zildjian Company.

“I can’t put into words how proud I am of her. We were like groupie parents in Los Angeles. It was great. Give her a natural venue and let her perform and she’s happy,” said her father, Malcolm.

When she isn’t singing, Angelea works at Eat-n-Park and is an active member at Allegheny Alliance Church on the North Side. In her spare time she enjoys watching old movies. She looks up to the classic stars of old Hollywood like Julie Andrews, Montgomery Cliff, Lauren Bacall and Elizabeth Taylor.

“I like the glamour of old Hollywood and the class the actors had back in the day. They were all classy and they carried themselves well,” she said.

She hopes to study language in college and minor in music. She would like to attend the Juilliard School of Music.

“Through all of this, I’ve learned that if you have fun on stage, you’re allowing the audience to have fun,” she said.

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