Singer Livingston Taylor flourishes as he moonlights

Livingston Taylor performs at the Infinity Hall in Norfolk Friday night. (Photo by Mim Adkins, 2017)

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Livingston Taylor first garnered attention in the public eye as a singer-songwriter.

A member of the famous Taylor clan (James, Kate, Alex, and Hugh), Livingston Taylor – Livingston Taylor’s first album came out in 1970 and he had hits such as “I Will Be In Love With You,” “First Time Love,” and “I’ll Come Running.”

Livingston Taylor continues to be active on the live circuit, and he comes to the Infinity Hall in Norfolk on Friday, Feb. 1.

But Taylor’s sole occupation is not performance these days. Instead, he teaches stage performance to up and coming musicians studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

The vocation is not one you would be aware of unless you were in one of Taylor’s classes. But the position is one that Taylor, who was calling from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., finds satisfying.

“I love to teach,” he said. “I knew inherently I was going to learn twice as much from my students as they would learn from me… It’s been wonderful.”

Thanks to the teaching gig, said Livingston, “I am much more in tune with my audience… (I worry) less about myself and am more worried about them.”

As a performer, Taylor said, “We don’t go out to be seen but to go see.”

In the concert industry, the trend has turned to bigger and bigger shows, with artists like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Ed Sheeran taking up residency in football stadiums across the country.

But as a professor of stage performance, Taylor said he doesn’t concern himself with preparing his students for concert spectacles.

Those huge shows tend to be less about the ability of an artist to perform and more about audiences getting a chance to say that they were there.

Taylor said it’s his task to teach his students how to grow crowds from an audience of one to an audience of about 1,000.

“Once you get 300 to 400 (fans in a show), you’re all set,” said Taylor. But how do you get that first audience member? he said. That’s the lesson, he said he wants to teach his students.

“Most importantly,” Taylor asks his students, “is your performance rehearsed enough [where one-third of your attention is focused on your ability to play the instrument or to sing].” The other two-thirds of heir attention should be focused on making the audience happy, said Taylor.

Taylor first found his way to performing music at age 13. And he has continued to perform ever since.

“I love music. I love songwriting. I love creating and interpreting music and selling to an audience,” said Taylor of his lifelong love with the art form.

Taylor will get a chance to share with fans his performances throughout the decades with a new album, “The Best Of LIVe – 50 Years of Livingston Taylor Live.” It’s a five CD set of live shows, broken up into different time periods of Taylor’s career.

Taylor said he had a key role in helping sift through the years and years of recordings.

“It was a wonderful exercise,” said Taylor of listening to his performances through the decades.

“One of the most pleasant things [of listening to the recordings], it was a surprise and delight to hear I was good [when I was younger].”

“I was a very good guitar player at 18,” said Taylor. He also heard as his singing voice improved in his 30s after taking the time to take lessons.

“I didn’t realize how good I was,” said Taylor.

Livingston Taylor performs at The Infinity Hall, 20 Greenwoods West, Norfolk on Friday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. For more information, visit InfinityHall.com