Arts & CultureCultural Affairs

Q&A: Gail Taylor on her musical career

Read Gail Taylor’s advice on reinventing yourself at any age

The transition of labour and employment to more informal avenues has been fast-forwarding due to lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions. Gail Taylor, an up-and-coming country musician, has not only advice to share, but samples of her music as a sign of better times to come, despite a new normal. 

After being covered by the CBC in a radio interview, Gail Taylor also wants to provide exposure for the music scene in Alberta — a place close to her heart. The fruits of her labour are clear in her piece “A Love For Country Music.” Written by Taylor and sung by Danny Hooper with help from the Beaird Music Group; her single is available here.

Other selections, such as “You Prob’ly Won’t Stay,” a tragic Dolly Parton-esque piece about human beings and their responsibilities to the planet, and “Staying Young,” about enjoying at the moment, are also stand out tracks. Taylor will also be going by the name of her musical alter ego, Gail T. As Charged. 

She not only boasts a successful career as a financial consultant but also a long education in contemporary music after having a passion for music reignited as a result of very mundane circumstances.

Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: How did your interest in contemporary music guide you to country music? 

Gail Taylor: I used to play this game all the time called Rock Band. I was always playing Rock Band, and one of my sisters said to me, “You spend so much time playing that pretend instrument, why don’t you learn how to play a real instrument?” A year or so after that, I bought myself a keyboard and then I started taking piano lessons. 

I did start with classical [music], and within the first couple of years, I realized that I really liked this. I really liked how learning to play is starting to reconnect with the music. This is because after 25 years in finance I had barely been listening to music, but I didn’t like the classical training I was getting. It just wasn’t what I was looking for. 

So, I switched over to a contemporary music program and started playing more rock songs than country songs. Then I started writing as a songwriter, so I had my first two years of just learning how to play the piano. I thought, “I’m really liking this. I’m going to retire and study.” 

Q: Why do you feel that your story could speak to some burnt-out youth this year, and people of all ages looking for a change in their career?

I was a bit of a workaholic; sometimes I [would] go at 6 a.m. in the morning and come home at night. I always had made a deal to myself: I would never walk in the house, tired or spat, because of my day. When I walked into the house I said, “Honey, I’m home and had a good day.” It was now time to be with my husband, my dog, and my family. 

We spend more than 50 per cent of our lives at work. Because you’re spending half your life working, you should find a job that you love. You have to like what you’re doing; you can come home from work completely drained and feel like “I’m working to have to pay my bills, and then live after work.” 

No, you have to enjoy your work. I’m a strong believer in that. If you are going to be really loving something that’s going to give you a low income, then just don’t be a material person. If you want a large income, find something that you love to do that’s going to give you a high income. Go after the dream. I really don’t believe we should live our life not enjoying it. 

You don’t go after the money — you go after the dream. I don’t think anything’s wrong with [chasing a dream].

Q: What is your advice for finding passion in your work, be it a traditional service position, professional work, or art forms like visual art and music?

I think it’s the part of the challenge is a combination of being intimidated to shift gears because you often have to step back. Change is not a bad thing. I really, really strongly believe that it’s important to live a life that works for you.

Q: What were some difficulties you encountered when pursuing music education and a career?

So far I haven’t come across any real difficulties or roadblocks because I’m designing it myself, and determining what direction I want to go in. The other thing is because I came out of a very very strong career, I wasn’t in a situation where I had to make money. 

I’m still in the startup section of my business. I’m still getting everything organized and getting it up and running. 

I guess the biggest challenge is the talent. So far I’ve developed enough talent that I can get on stage with a family band and play some old rock songs and when people come over to the house I can play songs on piano and entertain a little bit.  However, in the time that I’ve been working on it so far, I haven’t been able to develop my talent to a level where I’m ready to get on stage and actually charge people to hear a melody.

Q: Why did you feel that country music was an avenue to be explored for you, along with the province of Alberta?

We lived in Ottawa. I mean, literally, my husband and I put on our cowboy boots in place, and it was really interesting because Edmonton is a very blue-collar town. Calgary is the white-collar head office town and advocates the blue-collar [mindset] of getting the work done, and it’s an oil industry preference.

What I loved about [Alberta] was all the people were real. They were so real. You could agree to disagree. People didn’t dislike you because he didn’t have the same view as them. I found that people were so accepting of opposing opinions. People felt real and open to change, and country is a kind of music that thrives on openness.

Gail Taylor is just beginning her musical career, but her interest is in teaching, personal development, and country music. If you are interested in Taylor and her career, consider following her on Facebook or Instagram. Growing as an artist not only implies growth as an individual but also with other peers, something that country music from its inception has made a priority. Give Taylor a listen, and see if you’re sparked into new directions.

Alys Caswell

Alys Caswell is a second-year English Student with a Political Science minor. She enjoys salt and vinegar chips, English Romantic literature, and cozy places to read, in that order.

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