Despite now living far from the Lone Star State, former X Factor competitor and The Voice finalist Chynna Taylor returns as often as she can. What does this talented singer/songwriter miss most about Texas? “Whataburger,” came the reply. Spoken like a true Texan!
You live in Australia now. What is your connection to Texas?
I consider Texas my home state. Dad was in the Navy so we moved around a lot but settled in Corpus Christi when I was 12. I stayed in Texas after graduation to work at my church and to attend Texas A&M. My music career started in Texas. My sisters and I were in several bands and toured all over Texas gigging at rodeos, festivals and events. We were known as “The Scarlet Band” and “Lighter Ray.”
I met my husband while he was on an overseas posting with the Royal Australian Navy. I still come home to Texas as often as I can to visit my parents. I literally find myself craving breakfast tacos, hot wings, Whataburger, and of course, Mom and Dad’s cooking. (Especially Dad’s BBQ chicken and sausage.)
How did you end up on the X Factor and The Voice?
I was eight years old when I decided I wanted to work to become a professional singer. I think I was singing from my very early years, but that year I distinctly remember asking my Mom if I could audition for the school play (The Wizard of Oz) and start singing lessons. I started singing in the church and, to this day, serve at my local church. Basically, I sang anywhere I could: malls, talent shows, school plays, any audition, any local performance opportunity. I love the craft of singing.
My sister and I had taken a big hit in the Nashville music industry and financially couldn’t go on. After being released from our record contract, we continued to push but to no avail. It hit us hard and, for a good year, I lost my voice. That’s when my husband printed out the audition paperwork for the X-Factor Australia 2016, and sat it on the kitchen table. I eventually applied and found myself in a line, then a waiting room, and then room after room of audition rounds. To be honest, I forgot how amazing it was to sing for people. I didn’t expect to make it all the way to the Top 12 or really to the Top 6. After the X Factor, I got a call for The Voice Australia 2019. It was an incredible experience.
What do you miss about living in Texas?
Family, hospitality and food. I’m extremely close to my family and FaceTime them every day. I never planned on living so far away. But that’s the military, I guess! Texas has its own brand of hospitality and, of course, southern charm. I miss the food so bad sometimes I have dreams about it! Sometimes all I want is a good ranch dressing. Aussies don’t know about good ranch!
Your first EP, Dreamers, came out a couple of years ago. Describe what that was like.
I had never written a project on my own. It scared me, so I did it anyway. I needed to do it. I needed to finish a project, release it, and believe that I could do music again. There had been so many ups and downs that I stopped believing I was any good. The album is a cohesion of some Nashville and Aussie co-writes. A couple of songs were intended for the “Lighter Ray” album, but were never released. Basically, I am a dreamer. And so many people are dreamers who can’t or have stopped dreaming.
The first two songs on the album are about getting back up and trying again, even though you’re scared and think you can’t do it. The project was a healing process so I see it as a whole. But according to everyone else, “Edge” is definitely the favorite. Currently, I am writing and recording like crazy. I plan to release a lot of different projects this year — mainly in single form but you can expect a lot of new music from me in 2020.
Any advice for others?
Practice all the time. Invest in your talent. Put the work in. Constantly seek opportunities to sing in front of people. Do whatever you can with whatever you have. When you’re disappointed, ask yourself why you love music in the first place. Then, get back on the horse and try again…and have fun!
Cover photo courtesy Chynna Taylor
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.