Young Artist Spotlight
By Rebecca Little Burke
Some people come into your life for a short season. Others come into your life and take up residence. You know the kind…they become your lifelong friends. This month’s Young Artist Spotlight happens to be one of those lifelong friends of mine. In 2006 my path crossed with a young man in college at Campbell University. Little did I know that he and his siblings would become some of my dearest friends. Honestly, a much better description would be ‘family’. In my opinion, he is one of the finest young men in our industry. His walk matches his talk, and at the age of 27 he gives himself tirelessly for the cause of Christ. I am so excited to introduce to you all the lead singer of The Taylors, Mr. Jonathan Taylor.
RLB: Tell us a little about you and your family. How did you get started in Southern Gospel music?
JT: I grew up as a preacher’s kid in a small country church in North Carolina. I came from a large family of four brothers and two sisters, so there was never a dull moment growing up! I come from a strong Christian heritage and I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t love the Lord. I remember giving my heart to Christ at VBS when I was seven years old and it’s the best decision I ever made.
Mom has always led the music at our church and had us singing in her choir since we were old enough to start talking. I sang just about every Sunday at church. When someone suggested I attend the Steve Hurst School of Music in Nashville, I jumped on the opportunity. That was nine years ago and I have been hooked on Gospel Music since! I went back home and talked my younger siblings into starting a quartet, and the rest is history.
RLB: When you’re not out on the road, where can we find you?
JT: When I’m not on the road, you can find me in the great outdoors. I love fishing, kayaking, hiking, and camping. I also love to travel and see new places. Every year I make plans to visit a different country. God created such a beautiful world, and I’d like to see as much of it as I can!
RLB: Since I know you are quite the traveler, tell everyone about your trips. What has been your favorite one?
JT: My favorite trip has been to Alaska. My family went three years ago, and there is so much to see there. We drive all over the state and saw Denali National Park, glaciers, and a lot of other cool things. My favorite thing about the trip was going salmon fishing. The river was beautiful, and we caught a ton of fish. After we got off the boat, we went straight back to the cabin to grill our catch. It was the best salmon I’ve ever had!
RLB: Many of our readers may remember the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. What they may not know is that you and your sisters were visiting Japan when it hit. Tell us about that experience.
JT: My two sisters and I found ourselves in Japan three years ago when the tsunami and earthquake devastated the northern part of the country. We had planned to visit that area close to earthquake, but God changed our plans at the last minute. Instead, we traveled in the opposite direction. We were on Mount Fuji when the earthquake hit. We felt the ground move, and buses began to sway back and forth in the parking lot where we had stopped. It took us 14 hours to get back to the city, and our parents had no idea if we were dead our alive. We finally made contact and we had an emotional reunion on the phone.
When we finally got through to the airport, we were amazed that there were only three seats left on the only flight back to the US. God orchestrated it all in a way that only He could. He sent us help through strangers who took us all the way to the airport and gave us their spots in the long lines so that we wouldn’t miss our flight. God heard the cries of His children and took care of us, and my faith was strongly impacted on that day in 2011.
RLB: What are some of your goals in the coming years?
JT: Ministry-wise, our goal has always been to see people come to know Christ at our concerts. I suppose that my biggest goal for the coming years is that God would open doors for us to minister in places that would have the greatest impact on The Kingdom. Sure, it’s nice to sing in churches with large crowds, but I’m not just talking about numbers. I want to see lives changed, including my own. Sometimes that means going places that are out of our comfort zone, which leads me to my personal goal: to continue to trust God wherever he may take us.
RLB: Who are some of the people you look up to in our industry? Why?
JT: Because we started traveling and singing at such a young age, I value the advice of people who have spent their entire lives in the industry. First on the list would be Mike Wheeler from Kankakee, IL. Mike and his family have promoted concerts for over 26 years and he has been gracious enough to promote our family over the last few years. Tracy Stuffle and Jeff Easter have also been encouragers of our ministry. Over the years, those two guys have given some great advice!
RLB: What advice do you have for other young people in the SG industry or aspiring to be in it?
JT: My advice to younger singers in our industry would be to avoid comparing your ministry to the ministries of other singers and groups. If God has called you to sing, just sing. Don’t worry about trying to measure up to the standards of this industry, because God’s standards are the only thing that matter. He wants your best, but that doesn’t mean you will always be the best. God has humbled me so many times over the last eight years when He has moved in services where I thought I did my worst. God loves a willing heart, and He tells us that in our weakness, He is made strong. Don’t get discouraged when you see other singers on bigger platforms. God has ordained you to share your gift with the audience that He has provided. Don’t forget that He has a plan, and He knows what’s best.
RLB: What is the Lord currently teaching you?
JT: I know this seems strange, but the Lord is teaching me to have more confidence. I’m a type-A perfectionist, and I have always been driven to do my best. The motivation to try to be perfect is unrealistic most of the time, and God has been teaching me to stop worrying about it so much. God doesn’t need me to hit every note, and He doesn’t need me to always be the best emcee…He only needs me to make myself available for His purpose. I’m learning that if I trust Him completely, He can do great things through me even when I feel like I haven’t measured up.
Fortunately the Lord uses us in spite of us. We will never see perfection on this side of Heaven, but somehow through His mercy and grace, He uses imperfect people to accomplish His perfect plan! What a good God He is! Thank you Jonathan for sharing your heart and ministry with us!
For more information about the ministry of The Taylors, visit http://www.thetaylorsmusic.com/home.
Written by Rebecca Little Burke. First published May 2014 by SGM Radio Website
For current features on SGM Radio website, visit http://www.sgmradio.com/
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Taylor