New holiday album by Park City-based producer Tanya Taylor encourages diversity
’A Holiday Celebration Vol. 2’ features global musicians
While many people are singing and praying for peace during this holiday season, Tanya Taylor is producing it.
Taylor Productions has released “Diversity: A Holiday Celebration, Vol. 2,” and Taylor, a singer, producer and songwriter who splits her time between Park City and Denver, says the new album is a continuation of a project that started with “Vol. 1” last year.
“I enjoyed the process of creating the first album last year so much that I decided to do a decade worth of albums,” she said. “I am using these albums to combat the racial divide that plagues our contemporary world.”
The idea to do 10 holiday albums in 10 years was also inspired by the number of countries in the world.
“When you want to showcase diversity, there are a lot of countries to feature, and I can’t feature them all on one album,” Taylor said. “So I thought I would be able to try to get musicians to represent their different countries on the upcoming albums.”
So far, the two “Diversity” albums have featured artists from the United States, Czechoslovakia, Ghana, Georgia (the country), Japan, Iceland, India, Italy, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Sudan, Spain, Uganda and the United Kingdom, according to Taylor.
Many of these artists are either referred to Taylor by musician friends or contacted when she and her husband, Todd Bigatel, travel.
“When we were in Barcelona earlier this year, I talked with some musicians there,” she said.
Those discussions led her to guitarist Gio Dzamukashivili.
“He is originally from the country Georgia, but now lives in Barcelona,” Taylor said.
A few months ago, Taylor and Bigatel ventured to Iceland and met up with musicians there who will appear on next year’s holiday album.
In addition, Taylor will take to the internet to reach other musicians, like she did when she made contact with four Rwandan musicians.
These four artists — Fabrice K. Karangwa, Fabrice Niyonkuru, Kamanzi Henry Prosper and
Muwazena Jean Marie Vianney — all did their recording online under Taylor’s guidance.
“I know there are some countries I may never get to, but I do what I can,” she said.
“Diversity: A Holiday Celebration, Vol. 2” features eight songs, two of which — “Soldier’s Christmas Prayer” and “You Are the Reason” — are originals.
Taylor composed “Soldier’s Christmas Prayer” through the eyes of her grandfather, who was a World War II veteran.
“I remember hearing him and his friends talking about stories of the war, and I always wondered what Christmas would be like in their circumstances,” she said. “I also wondered what they would say as a word of encouragement about the world that we’re living in now and what kind of advice they would have for our contemporary world. I can only imagine that they would want peace, because I think that’s what most of us want.”
Taylor took the song’s chorus from a poem her grandfather wrote.
“It says, ‘Let peace and love cover this world/And tuck you in with gentle words/Let hope flow on and on in song/This is my Christmas prayer now on,’” she said.
Taylor wrote “You Are the Reason” with her husband.
“We had been listening to a lot of contemporary Christian artists, and we were inspired by them,” she said. “The song is about Christ being the center of Christmas. Now, I know there are so many other religions out there, so I’m planning to cover their different winter celebrations in the upcoming albums. In fact, next year’s release will have a Jewish piece on it, and so on.”
“Diversity: A Holiday Celebration Vol. 2” starts with “Pachelbel’s Christmas,“ a piece inspired by Pachelbel’s Canon.
“The Canon is one of my favorite pieces, and it makes for a great holiday song,” Taylor said. “The challenge was how we could incorporate the other cultures and music into it.”
While the piece lends itself to rounds of classical singing, Taylor decided to add a twist.
“I decided to start it off with one of our artists rapping,” she said. “I really want to make people think differently in how we can embrace one another in the same way we can embrace music.”
The album also features a new version of “O Holy Night” and an updated version of “Merry Christmas” called “Merry Christmas Vol 2.”
“Merry Christmas” will be included on all the upcoming “Diversity” albums, Taylor said.
“Every time someone comes over to work on one of the albums, I ask them to lay a line on the piece, so by the time we get to the 10th album, all the musicians from the last decade will be featured on a version of the song,” she said. “I leave it up to them to sing it anyway they want — another language or a different style.”
Taylor has formed tight relationships with the singers and musicians during the recording sessions of these past two albums.
“You build these friendships in just over two hours at a time, because you’re working so close with each other,” she said. “Having them share their talents inspires me to continue to create new music.”
Although “Vol. 2” has just been released, Taylor is already looking at what the next one will sound like.
“Whenever I try to find musicians, someone will always recommend a man, so I want to mix things up,” she said. “I have decided that the next album will feature all women.”
A Park Record intern spent three weeks in New York City thanks to a Columbia University program.
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