A former contestant on NBC’s hit TV show The Voice, Tay Beckham walked onto the set of a photo shoot at the studio’s backlot and climbed into the judge’s chair. It had been a while since she’d seen the chair’s “I Want You!” lettering light up, letting her know she would advance in the coveted music competition.
Wearing head-to-toe black knit and leather, she stood straight, swept a fiery red curl from her cheek and placed her hands on the judge’s button that, just two years ago, seemed to determine her fate as an artist. A record deal, music video and hot new single later, Tay looked down at that button and now saw something else – the turning point in an eight-year journey to find her voice. At 20 years old, she was no longer the girl the industry told her to be. And when she looked up at the camera, she made sure they knew that.
“I am so grateful for the experience on The Voice,” Tay said, “because I was able to find that missing element all the producers kept talking about: myself.”
The fire has always burned bright inside Tay Beckham, but even the brightest of stars can be smothered by the volatile twists and turns of America’s music industry. When Tay picked up her first violin, falling deeply in love with music and all it represented, she never expected her journey would be about anything other than art and soul. But the industry had other plans.
Born into a family of preachers and heavily involved in worship, Tay’s first moment on the stage was a long time coming. At 12 years old, her violin teacher convinced her to try out for a singing competition, going up against performers ages 10-30. Singing her way to first place, Tay won a chance to record at Tree Sound Studios, one of the top organic recording companies in Atlanta. So for two years, Tay and her mom flew back and forth from Dallas, where they lived at the time, to Atlanta. They were chasing down her music dreams.
“I was young, and I had to grow up really quick. I was home schooled, so I was never surrounded by kids my age, which made me mature faster. I loved it,” Tay said. “And after I started working with the record company, my mom and I didn’t think it was anything serious – until it became serious.”
Tay got the chance to work with producers such as James “Groove” Chambers, A&R Mali Hunter and Justin Bieber in his early years of fame. Her dreams seemed within reach when she began hearing from producers that she wasn’t quite ready.
“They all told me I was great, that I was cute, but there was something missing,” she said. “They all would tell me to come back in a couple of years.”
Everyone knew Tay would be great, but she still had to determine who she was as a person.
“I remember the day they cut my hair and dyed it a deep red,” she recalled. “I said yes to everything. I complied like any 15 year old would – I just wanted to sing.”
And then her big break came.
In 2013, Tay decided to throw herself into another singing competition, landing a spot on The Voice’s Team Usher. That day she made a decision to be herself. After years of being controlled, Tay was going to take control of her
career, and she started with her look.
“The dressers would come back stage and tell me what to wear, according to what the producer wanted,” she said. “I didn’t like any of the outfits or hairstyles they wanted for me, so I would make suggestions. Of course the dressers would argue with me, but I stood firm. I was done with pleasing others.”
That season of The Voice went a bit differently than normal, as the contestants started fighting for their own looks – “pulling a Taylor” they called it. Stealing the show as a Voice renegade, Tay took the reins of her career and soared.
Finishing in the semi-final round, she left The Voice and began working with producers like Jamie Jones, Matt Wong, and Jack Kugell, better known as The Heavyweights, who have produced hit singles such as I Can Love You Like That and I Swear by All-4-One. With a partnership deal from Empire Records, Tay released her new single Excuses on September 30 and aired on the radio for the first time October 1. Her Excuses video released October 23, securing a feature on the front of the Yahoo News Music page, and her EP Love Hard is now available on iTunes, Spotify and Beats Music.
She is currently working on a full-length album, and her fans, the self-
proclaimed Firebirds, are responding in large numbers. Eight years from the start of her journey as an artist, the Firebird is standing strong. Protecting who she is as an artist/songwriter, Tay has grown into an inspired, soulful pop and R&B artist who is ready to connect with the generations of today’s world.
“Stick up for what you want because, if you let someone else do it for you, it isn’t going to be what you thought it would be,” Tay said. “It will never be your picture unless you paint it.”
For more information about Tay Beckham, please visit her website at www.taybeckham.com.
photos by Joie de Vivre Photographie
Hair By Kayla Quintanilla of Perfecct Day Perfect Look