Machan Taylor

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Teaching and Learning


Vocalist, Recording Artist, Performer, Composer, Educator

When Machan sings – whether as part of a finely tuned background ensemble, belting out a rock anthem or delivering a ballad in an intimate solo setting – listeners are moved by what Variety Magazine called her “seamless vocal style.”

Her compelling vocal talents have graced live performances and recordings by some of the world’s most celebrated musicians. While on tour with Sting, Machan sang with him at The GRAMMY® Awards and Royal Albert Hall and she’s dazzled audiences around the globe on big stadium concert tours with Pink Floyd, Foreigner and Pat Benatar. She’s
shared the stage with artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Bobby Caldwell, Gov’t Mule, Billy Joel and Natalie Merchant, and was front woman for the acclaimed jazz ensemble, Hiroshima, for three years. Her work has attracted the attention of millions of TV viewers via appearances on Saturday Night Live, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno/The Tonight Show, Arsenio Hall and other major network shows.

“Blessed with a powerful voice, astonishing range and physical beauty,
Taylor was spectacularly successful …”
Leonard Feather, Los Angeles Times, Playboy Jazz Festival

Machan started her career singing in coffeehouses and nightclubs at age 16 and, a year later, attracted a huge and loyal fan base in the NYC metro area as co-leader of a swing, bebop and jazz band, Za Zu Zaz. In 1979, she moved to NYC and landed a two-year gig as featured vocalist for the legendary Glenn Miller Orchestra. From there, her career took
off and she enjoyed touring and recording all over the world for a couple of decades.

Following her 2000 world tour with Sting, Machan was ready to finally record her own compositions. She recorded her first release, Machan (A440 Records, 2004), with the help of several musicians and producers such as GRAMMY Award winner Rick DePofi, renowned jazz bassist Brian Bromberg, and her husband, Danny Louis, keyboardist for Gov’t Mule. The CD – which reached #35 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Jazz Charts just one month after release – reflected her love of Brazilian music and her earliest influences (Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Judy Collins and her mother, who had a career as a jazz singer in Tokyo). Her second recording of originals, Motion of Love (NuGroove Records, 2007), featured performances with John Medeski, John Scofield, Randy Brecker and Danny Louis. In this recording, she revealed herself both musically and personally, offering lyrics with social commentary embedded into a range of diverse grooves. “As I’ve gotten older,” she says, “I can’t ignore what’s happening in the world or the way I feel about it. To develop as a songwriter, I want to speak my truth.”

“Miss Taylor, a striking-looking Eurasian, has an even more striking voice
that she warms up with some adept scat singing, and eventually explodes
in a display of vocalizing that takes off in the Yma Sumac manner.”
John S. Wilson, The New York Times

In 2011, she was executive producer for The Motherland Project, a CD featuring Jackie Greene, Rachael Yamagata and other musicians who united to raise funds for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. A year later, she participated in The Hudson Valley Artists Hurricane Relief Project (a CD compilation with Medeski, Martin & Wood; Amy Helm; Gov’t Mule and others) to help Hudson Valley victims of Hurricane Irene. And, she sang with Natalie Merchant to support the release of Jon Bowermaster’s 2012 anti-fracking documentary film, Dear Governor Cuomo. “I love to support causes that speak to my value system or for the environment,” Machan says, “and I look forward to writing more music for film and television.”

Her compositions in collaboration with keyboardist and producer Steve Gaboury have been featured on shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show, Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, the Oscar-winning film, American Beauty, starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening and the 2015 Golden Globe Award-winning, Oscar-nominated film Boyhood.

She sang on the soundtracks for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Natural Born Killers and other films. And, Machan has developed impressive credits as a vocalist or composer for corporate campaigns for Oil of Olay, Cottonelle, Toyota, Sears, and Duracell, among other clients.

But, despite her accomplishments, Machan says, “I felt like there was a hole. I’ve had a lifelong goal to go back to school and get my degree. In the next chapter of my life, I would love to get a faculty position teaching music.”
In 2013, Machan completed her undergraduate degree in Arts-Contemporary Vocal Performance at the State University of New York/Empire State College and received her master’s degree from New York University (NYU) in Theory and Composition- Songwriting/Film Composing in May 2016. She currently teaches at NYU’s Clive Davis School of Recorded Music, The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music and a private practice. She served as vocal coach for two major motion pictures – Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut, Higher Ground (2010), and Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding (Bruce Beresford, Director, 2011), starring Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener.

“It’s funny how circles in your life go around. I didn’t go to college when I was younger, because I was already singing professionally when I graduated from high school. Back then, I thought, ‘Why do I have to go to school? I’m already doing what I want to do! My recent big push to go back and get my undergraduate and master’s degrees accomplished a major goal for me.”

“I love teaching,” she continues. “And, of course, I have always loved to sing. Being a composer offers me yet another creative outlet. At one point, I remember feeling like I was ‘all over the place,’ but now I see my diversity of experience as my strength,” Machan says. “Choosing to live as a creative person is a tough road to travel, and it requires you to be a survivalist. You’ve got to learn to develop and draw upon various aspects of your talents, not just one.”

As an artist who embraces and excels in the creative life from all perspectives – teacher, performer, producer, composer, and entrepreneur – Machan offers aspiring singers and musicians a knowledgeable perspective, practical know-how, and inspiration … the full package of what’s needed to really make a difference in music students’ lives.

Along with teaching, Machan continues to work on new material for herself, collaborations with her husband Danny Louis and their project Gradus Corde, as well as with other artists.

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New York
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