Taylor Dayne

February 2023 View more

Pop star takes stage for retro benefit prom

Taylor Dayne
Love Will Lead You Back: ’80s Prom Gala February 10 at Naperville’s Yellow Box Theater

If you grew up in the ’80s or ’90s, chances are you’ve heard a Taylor Dayne hit. The Grammy-nominated singer has sold more than 75 million albums in her nearly four-decade career, which took off in 1987 with “Tell It to My Heart.”

A supporter of arts education, Dayne will be headlining the Love Will Lead You Back: ’80s Prom Gala, benefiting the Academy of the Arts, February 10 at Naperville’s Yellow Box Theater, 1635 Emerson Lane. Founded in November 2020, the nonprofit organization has a mission to create a K-12 private school where high-level arts meets high-achieving academics. Recently completing its first full year in operation, the academy offers after-school and summer programming for young artists, reaching more than 100 students in the western suburbs. For more information and to order tickets, visit illinoisartsacademy.org.

Dayne chatted with us recently about her career.

Q: How did you get into the music business?

A: For me, there was no other choice. This is where my heart was. I grew up in New York, and I was very exposed to some of the greatest clubs, some of the greatest experiences you could have—it was in my backyard, so to speak. The things you aspire to—the CBGBs, the 54s, all these clubs—and that was all glowing and going in the mid-’80s. I was just a kid hitting the clubs, and I was already working in one band to another. That was my The Voice, my American Idol. We didn’t have Wi-Fi, we didn’t have Instagram, we didn’t have internet, we didn’t have cellphones. So you have such an easier way now to have direct relationships with fans. You have YouTube; you have all these social media platforms that never existed. We had the Village Voice. As limited as it was, if you weren’t breaking through a record company, you weren’t breaking. Even then I had to figure it out. You did it through a 12-inch [record], you did it through the clubs, very grassroots.

Q: Who were some of your musical influences growing up?

A: It’s always been the radio—radio in the ’70s. It was Bill Withers and Billy Preston to Karen Carpenter, Three Dog Night. Then you had Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Gladys Knight, and this soulfulness really took ahold of me. But I wouldn’t ever give up my Pink Floyds, and my Led Zeppelins, and my Bad Companys.

Q: When did you figure out music was your passion?

A: When I was 4, I said I’m going to be a rock ’n’ roll star—I want to be a singer. I was not quite preschool, but the radio saved my life. This is really the story of that little girl who felt so lost but also felt so found. My voices were coming to me through the Stevie Wonders, the voices through the radio. It helped me survive, it gave me a reason to live, a place that I could live in, sort of a fantasy, but it sharpened my ear. I just leaned into it and said, “I’m going to sing like him, I’m going to sing like that.”

Q: Any advice for young performers?

A: Just like any athlete, you train like that. It’s always those 10,000 hours. It’s that mindlessness—never giving up on one level—and the tenaciousness, and then finding another door. These are portals, you know—one door closes, another opens.


Photo courtesy of Peter Barat