STORY WRITTEN BY BRIANG BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
The truth can be way stranger than fiction.
This year’s Berks Jazz Fest will feature the big, sassy voice behind late ‘80s/early ‘90s pop hits like “Tell It to My Heart,” “Prove Your Love,” “With Every Beat of My Heart” and “Don’t Rush Me.” Among Taylor Dane’s most popular songs during her chart run of that period were the ballads “Love Will Lead You Back” and “I’ll Always Love You.”
Dayne, who celebrated her 54th birthday in March, is promoting a new single, “Dreaming,” and a “Greatest Hits Live” album. CLICK HERE FOR A QUICK LOOK AT THE FESTIVAL
When asked what her reaction would be if someone told her back in 1987 — when “Tell It to My Heart” ruled at the dance clubs — that she’d be part of a jazz festival lineup in 2016, she replied: “I would say: ‘Am I guest vocals with some stellar musicians?’”
“I always enjoy the idea of being a collaborator, as well as an interpreter of music,” she added.
As part of Smooth Jazz WJJZ Day April 2, Dayne will join saxophonist Michael Lington on stage for a matinee concert in the Crowne Plaza Reading Ballroom, which will also include The Brian Bromberg Band and The Berks Horns.
She shared that her performance will be of “Great American Songbook” selections — quite a departure from the dance music she’s associated with. It turns out that her diverse musical influences include Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Hints of Dayne’s inner jazz torch singer show on her 2008 single “Beautiful.”
If you still have a hard time imagining Taylor Dayne singing songs from the ‘40s or ‘50s — such as “Midnight Sun” or “Love is Here to Stay” — imagine her singing a duet with Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider as part of the stage show “Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale.” Video of a stirring Taylor Dayne/Dee Snider live performance of “Silent Night” on a Toronto TV morning show is under the news section at www.taylordayne.com.
Dayne, who was part of the 2001 Broadway cast of “Aida,” described Snider’s show, and her participation, as a kind of “giving back.” “That was the comedy,” Dayne said of the pairing of singers you’d never expect to see sing together.
Among Dayne’s memorable TV appearances over the years are Season 3 of CMT’s “Gone Country” in 2006 — with cast members George Clinton, The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz, Bucks County’s Justin Guarini and winner Sheila E. — and the first season of Food Network’s “Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off” in 2012 — along with Aaron Carter, Cheech Marin, N-Sync’s Joey Fatone, Coolio, Olympic gold medal swimmer Summer Sanders and winner Lou Diamond Phillips.
“Under pressure, I’m better than I thought I was,” she said of competing for Rachael Ray’s team.
Guy Fieri she had previously met at the Kentucky Derby. “He was a real mensch,” she said, noting that the restaurateur and ubiquitous Food Network personality brought his family along to the annual horse racing spectacle.
Dayne said her culinary specialties are miso soup with oolong noodles and pasta with red sauce. She continually freezes any leftover sauce/broth and uses it to start the next batch she makes. “Believe it or not, a little Jew from New York … I make a mean-ass meat sauce,” she said.
Born Leslie Wunderman, she recorded her first dance singles under the stage name Les Lee. But getting caught in a tug-of-war between record labels and production companies, she was prohibited from using the Les Lee name for the “Tell It to My Heart” single. “Taylor Dayne” was chosen, she said, over “baby book names and a couple of drinks.”
“Surviving this beast over the years has been interesting,” she said of the music business.
Follow www.facebook.com/TheRealTaylorDayne, @taylor_dayne on Twitter and @taylordayne7 on Instagram.