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Giant Steps: Dione Taylor

Thursday, 16 February 2017 12:35

Parents can be tricky, they have a way of guiding you without letting you in on the fact that they are pushing you towards something. When Dione Taylor was born she was given two names;  the first, Dione after Dione Warwick (aka Whitney’s aunt with the distinctive voice) and Roberta, after Roberta Flack an R&B legend.

Dione Roberta Taylor was a clever girl, she could have been anything, but she succumbed to the not so gentle nudge of her family and became a singer. Her family, a black family settled in Regina, Saskatchewan, their belief in God ran deeper than a prairie swept snowdrift. They had a hand in solidifying a black Christian presence in their community.  Dionne of course, sang in the church, a PK (pastor’s kid) with solid musical chops.

When I first met Dione, here in Toronto her first album had just come out. Her speaking voice is much like her singing voice, it has a dusky  power,  dark -- but it possessed a sweetness and light that acted like a gravitational pull. She had big hair and piercing, lively eyes. I Love Being Here with You was the album that put Dione Roberta squarely in front of the Canadian public. She hasn’t really left that stage.

Her latest album is her most personal, telling the story of her church upbringing through songs written by Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder. She  also included songs that sprang forth from her heart--- her own compositions that feel like both confession and celebration. Like so many people of colour religion through history has been seen as equal parts saviour and oppressor and making peace with that dichotomy isn’t always easy, but Dione Taylor has made peace with it. Her expression of that peace is a wonder to behold. ]

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