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#LetTheGirlsPlay: Taylor Noelle Finds Opportunities in the Unexpected

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Taylor Noelle’s music comes with California flavor, although more and more the 20-year-old is embracing Southern culture. Colbie Calliat, Gwen Stefani and Tori Kelly answer the “sounds like” question, but this talented singer-songwriter is starting to make use of the resources around her.

If you’d have told 17-year-old Taylor Noelle she’d have a new EP and burgeoning career in a country music town, she probably would have done that thing teenage girls do when they are so not amused with your jokes.

“I was a real angst-y teen,” she says, laughing when asked if moving to Music City from Los Angeles during her senior year of high school was challenging.

"Of course I met my current boyfriend within two weeks of moving,” Noelle says, “and now I have an EP out. So okay, Dad, you’re right. Fine!"

“It was a couple of months before we were moving, but we knew we were moving,” she recalls, smiling as she begins a story that exemplifies her “angst.” “I was being such a priss. I was kind of tearing up but also just like — this is in public mind you, this is in an airport with my family — totally ignoring them, and on my phone and doing my best to have the cattiest retorts ever. And my dad is finally like, ‘Taylor, what are you doing?’”

And then came the meltdown. Tears and wishes she could stay, go to homecoming, graduate with friends … her father tried to reassure her that the move would be good for her music, and who knows? Maybe she’d find true love? Noelle wasn’t having any of it.

“Of course I met my current boyfriend within two weeks of moving,” the Belmont University student says with a wide smile, “and now I have an EP (Out of My System, available on Spotify) out, so okay, Dad, you’re right. Fine!”

“Dad” is Charles Esten, star of ABC’s Nashville (now on CMT), and the move came so he could begin filming the new show. When asked when things turned around for her, Noelle says it was the day the plane landed and she drove to a new home that had four casseroles waiting on the kitchen table, cooked fresh by their new neighbors.

“Before we moved, I was not having it, but then we got here and it was the nicest people I ever met,” she recalls. “I totally didn’t believe it until I was here, but Southern hospitality is so real.”

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Noelle has always been surrounded by artists who sharpen their craft at a very high level. There are few more competitive music colleges than Belmont, but this honors student (near-perfect ACT and SAT scores) didn’t let the reputation scare her away. What’s she’s found is that while everyone wants to “win,” her classmates also want her to succeed. It’s the same mentality of Song Suffragettes and the weekly #LetTheGirlsPlay shows. There you’ll find female artists helping female artist with the idea being that a collective is more powerful than any one voice, even a voice as unique as Noelle’s.

“Too Good” is the first song on Out of My System, but “Won’t Waste My Time” is her signature moment. At the bridge she slows down and goes after lilting high notes. Her voice is forever fluttering, like a butterfly blowing across a California beach.

Last-Q-Taylor-Noelle

A love song about said boyfriend called “Covers Me” and a ballad about unrequited love called “I Fall” are more traditionally structured, moments of calm on a moody project that relies on inventive melodies.

Is it a country EP? Does it matter?

“I don’t want to pick a genre that will really box me in,” Noelle insists. “I think that genres are really tough nowadays unless you’re very very defined in what you are.”

Simply put, she’s young and recognizes that committing to a genre before she’s ready is dangerous. Also, she didn’t grow up country. Carole King and Stevie Nicks are two of her biggest influences. “Too Good,” she says, could be a sister song to Elle King‘s “Ex’s & Oh’s.”

With more time left at Belmont and a commitment to Music City, Noelle admits Nashville’s greatest export is starting to influence her, and she welcomes it. At just 20 she doesn’t have a crystal clear definition of who she is, but she’s getting close.

Next: Meet November's Artist Tenille Arts

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