Name originally Lesley Wunderman, born March 7, 1963; daughter of a rare-coin dealer and an actress. Education: Attended Nassau Community College. Addresses: Home --Long Island, N.Y. Record company --Arista Records, 6. W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
Pop vocalist Taylor Dayne first came to many music fans' attention with her 1988 debut album on Arista, Tell It to My Heart. The title track rocketed to Top 10 status, and the album garnered her four New York Music Award nominations. Follow-up songs "Prove Your Love" and "I'll Always Love You" also received a fair amount of radio airplay, but Dayne's second album, Can't Fight Fate, has brought her another smash hit with the single, "With Every Beat of My Heart." Edwin Miller summed up the singer's powerful vocal style thus in Seventeen: "Personality she's got."
Born Lesley Wunderman on March 7, 1963, Dayne grew up in Long Island, New York. Her earliest ambition was to be a singer, and she was active in her elementary school choruses, often performing solos. She began listening to rock music when she was in junior high, and when she reached high school, Dayne sang with her boyfriend's band. She confided to Miller: "The other boys [in the band] didn't like me. They were intimidated because I sang better than they rocked." The group entertained at school dances, and performed songs made famous by the Allman Brothers, Joni Mitchell, and Joe Walsh.
When Dayne went to Nassau Community College to study philosophy, she hooked up with a band called Felony, where she sang duets with a male vocalist. Felony played its own compositions, and Dayne told Miller that she "loved getting away from singing somebody else's music.... That was my introduction to original music, learning how to write and interpret." Around the same time, she began taking classical vocal lessons. Though Dayne has made her mark in the pop genre, she offered this advice for aspiring singers, as quoted by Miller: "Never study with somebody who says they can teach you how to sing pop correctly. What's pop? Get to the fundamentals. Do the basics!"
After Felony broke up, Dayne had a stint with a pop group called the Next, and eventually decided to forsake philosophy, fearing that the only thing she could do in the field was teach. She started working harder on her music career, cutting a demo tape in Los Angeles, California, and sang in New York in front of record-company talent scouts, but with few results. Somewhere along the line she recorded two singles under the name Leslee; these also went nowhere. Dayne was performing in a Russian-American nightclub in Brighton Beach, New York, "belting bawdy Russian songs," in the words of People magazine, when she came to the attention of Arista Records. Anxious to distance herself from her previous unsuccessful recordings, she was aided in her search for a new stage name by friend Dee Snider of the rock group Twisted Sister, who suggested she use a male-sounding one and helped her come up with Taylor. Dayne found the last name in a baby book, according to Miller.
Once Dayne was under contract with Arista, things moved quickly. Tell It to My Heart was recorded in six weeks; as Miller reported, "songs were picked to spotlight [Dayne's] range and power, with its strong rhythm and blues influences." The title cut was described in People as a "catchy dance tune," and "Prove Your Love" is in a similar vein. "I'll Always Love You," according to People, "is an R & B-flavored ballad that Dayne hopes ... will establish her as the white soul singer she longs to be." Aside from the hit, "With Every Beat of My Heart," Can't Fight Fate also includes the ballad "Love Will Lead You Back."
by Elizabeth Thomas
Taylor Dayne's Career
Sang with rock bands since high school, including Felony and the Next; sang in a Russian-American nightclub in Brooklyn, N.Y., c. 1987; recording artist, 1988--. Also recorded two songs under the name Leslee.
Taylor Dayne's Awards
Nominated for four New York Music Awards.
- Tell It to My Heart (includes "Tell It to My Heart," "Prove Your Love," and "I'll Always Love You"), Arista, 1988.
- Can't Fight Fate (includes "With Every Beat of My Heart" and "Love Will Lead You Back"), Arista, 1989.
- Also released two singles on another label under the name Leslee.
- People, May 23, 1988.
- Seventeen, August 1988.