Have you ever had that feeling of dread in your stomach when asked to speak in front of an audience? Have you ever been overwhelmed with shyness you back off from any public attention? Stoke-on-Trent’s Lissy Taylor did. As a young girl Lissy was very quiet and shy. The thought of standing up and speaking in front of others was terrifying – but Lissy also had a dream – a huge dream which was to become a singer and songwriter.
“I’d always been interested in music when I was growing up – I was like a typical girl who would put on shows for my toys and stuff, my bed was my stage,” says Lissy.
“But I was quite shy and quiet as a child. I was in my last year of primary school when I first sang in front of an audience and I was so nervous I felt sick to my stomach, but after I thought to myself – I enjoyed that.”
Lissy continued to practice singing in the comforts of her own bedroom and also turned her hand to playing the guitar. At age 13, the former Clayton Hall School – now Academy – pupil took what was to be a big step when she sang in front of her mum.
“My mum said it was really good and said she was going to take me to an open mic night. I was like, ‘No I’m not ready,’ laughs Lissy. “There was a guy who sang before me and he was brilliant, and I thought ‘Oh No he was really good and this is my first time.’ I sang an Ed Sheeran song but I got the whole lyrics mixed up and ended up doing an Ed Sheeran medley instead. But after, the guy who had sang before, came up to me and said he really liked it. I couldn’t believe it.”
The ‘guy’ who approached Lissy was a guitar teacher, Ben Owen, and soon after he also became a mentor and guitar teacher for Lissy too.
“I learned a lot from Ben,” adds Lissy. “I felt like I really improved, it was fun and taught me a lot.”
A number of open mic nights later and Lissy landed a solo gig when the Young Musicians Showcase invited her to perform at a Costa Coffee, in Stone. Then in 2015 a job opportunity for Lissy’s father saw the family move to America and setting up home in Lexington, Kentucky – another big step which would prove to be a huge turning point for this young singer/songwriter.
“I didn’t really know anybody at first,” said Lissy. “So I just played my guitar. It kind of became my friend – I kind of confided in my guitar. I started playing covers but then I got bored of cover songs and I wanted to try and write something myself, something which could relate to me.”
Lissy went on to compile her own songs with ‘Home’ and later ‘Goodbye’ coming from the influences of moving abroad and it was after getting involved with a music community in Kentucky, when Lissy was back to performing at open mic nights. As her confidence grew so did her resume and invites flooded in to sing at coffee shops and restaurants which led to performances at big events and making appearances on several American TV channels and Radio stations. Lissy was also the winner of the category female singer songwriter at a Battle of the Bands competition in 2016.
In 2017 Lissy and her family returned to the UK and back to her home City of Stoke-on-Trent. With the hope of continuing the musical momentum going Lissy and her mum contacted music promoters and individuals back in the UK and upon her return Lissy performed at the Neverland Festival 2017 which took place in London.
“I received an email from the festival organisers and they asked if I’d be interested in opening the Neverland Festival where Jake Bugg and Annie Mac were going to be headlining! I was so excited.”
More recently Lissy has performed at various awards evenings for The Sentinel newspaper and also won her category, Best Music Act at the Six Towns Radio Awards in January 2018. It was whilst performing at The Lymelight Festival, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, in May where Lissy also received a little reminder about how far she has already come with her music.
“I was on stage and I saw a lady walking by who used to be a teaching assistant at my primary school,” said Lissy. “We kind of looked at each other and she recognised me, we just gave each other this look and she smiled. She probably thought what’s going on because when I was 10 years old there was no way I’d ever have thought I would be standing on a stage singing in front of lots of people – I thought, Wow, I’ve changed a lot since then.”
Lissy may have changed, she took a step away from her enclosed stage and walked into an unknown which has not only given her the confidence to fulfil a dream, but opened up a world she could have only imagined.
When asked what advice she would give to others she says: “If you are super shy, first of all find a small group of people, or a family member or friend and pluck up the courage to play in front of them and grow from there. Make sure you enjoy what you do and you’ve got to push yourself. What I did was, I just said to myself if you don’t do this you will regret it so much. If you really want to do something you’ve got to try. I took a deep breath and I tried.”
Lissy Taylor is set to return to Kentucky for a short trip where she has again been invited to appear on TV and Radio stations as well as taking in her first gig at Nashville. UK performances are also in the pipeline including those in her home City of her beloved Stoke-on-Trent.
Lissy’s debut album Reminds me of You is out now. For more information go to http://www.lissytaylor.com/