The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke, Dennis Taylor…just a few of Motown music’s most talented acts. But wait -- who’s Dennis Taylor? You must not live in Charlestown if you’re asking that question. Dennis Taylor happens to be the 15-year-old singing sensation that has the ladies swooning and the guys thinking back to the good ole’ days. The high school freshman is a self-taught musician, but his most valuable instrument is his voice. From City Hall Plaza to the Boston Garden, Taylor has graced his share of respectable venues. Recently, Charlestown’s crooner took some time out of his music-making schedule to let Patch meet the (young) man behind the music.
Q: How long have you been singing?
A: Since I can remember.
Q: Did you inherit your musical talents from anyone in your family?
A: I play piano, bass, guitar and drums all from ear – I’m completely self-taught. (Michelle, Dennis’ mom chimes in… “Dennis has a God-gifted talent, there was always music playing at our house, but I’m not musical at all.”)
Q: Who would you say are some of your biggest influences in music?
A: Elvis, or anything Motown. Smokey Robinson, Sam Cooke, The Temptations, Philly soul-sound DJ’s, Melvin & the Blue Notes - there is so much music! I have thousands of songs on my IPod – all the music is from the '50s – 70s. I know so much of the music and yet I’m still finding old B-sides I’ve never heard before.
Q: What’s your all time favorite song to sing?
A: That’s easy – Elvis Presley’s “Hurt”. It’s my great-grandmother’s all-time favorite song, and I sing it for her whenever she asks.
Q: What was your most memorable performance to date?
A: For the past two years I’ve played the First Night for seniors down in Boston’s seaport. I performed the first year and they loved me so much I was invited back to emcee the event this past year. All the elderly remembered me from the year before and were so excited.
Q: How has your family and the Charlestown community supported your career?
A: They have been so supportive. My family loves listening to me sing. While I’m practicing at home during the summer, they’ll come over and set their chairs up on our back deck and just listen. The Charlestown community has been so supportive -- they buy my CD’s, they come to my shows, they even make signs! When I performed on City Hall Plaza for Disco Night, Charlestown came out in droves, they were loudest ones in the crowd. Everything I’ve done, the town has been right behind me. When I’m walking down the street or stopping into CVS, anyone who recognizes me always has something positive to say.
Q: I hear you have a new album out this month – what’s it all about?
A: They’re all songs I’ve written and recorded over the past year. It took about three months to put together: in the end I chose 13 songs. I edit and record everything myself, here at home. The CD is $10 and went on sale the first of the month – visit www.dennistaylor.co.nr to obtain a copy.
Q: Ever get stage fright?
A: Always! The anticipation always makes me nervous. But once I pick up the microphone and hit the stage, all the nerves disappear.
Q: When did you start performing professionally?
A: My first gig was at the Zelma Lacey House when I was 13; I now have a monthly gig there.
Q: I hear you got the attention of some pretty well-known names in the music biz. Tell me more.
A: In May, I’m heading down to Philly to record a few songs with the legendary producer Bobby Eli. He wrote 15 No. 1 hits in the '70s. He’s currently working on new material that he wants me to record – he thinks they’ll be perfect for my voice. Also, Otis Williams, one of the original members of the Temptations, contacted me after he had seen my cover of “Since I Lost My Baby." He told me he had never heard it done so well, and told me to keep following my dreams.
Interested in seeing Dennis live? You’re in luck; he has a few local gigs lined up.
- Friday, April 8 – Salvatore’s, Medford, 8 – 11 p.m. For more, visit the event’s Facebook page
- Friday, May 6 - REWIND Disco Group Opening Show, Kowloon Restaurant - Saugus