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Music

Livingston Taylor lives up to family's musical pedigree

| Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, 11:12 a.m.
Livingston Taylor
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Livingston Taylor

Early in his career, a press biography on Livingston Taylor introduced the singer-songwriter as “like sunshine trying to intrude into a permanently rainy day.”

That was in 1973, but the sentiment works just fine today to describe this gentleman artist.

Taylor, 65, recorded his first album at 18 and has continued to create introspective and original songs that have brought him a worldwide audience. From top-40 hits “I Will Be in Love With You” and “I'll Come Running” to “I Can Dream of You” and “Boatman,” recorded by his famous brother James, Livingston's creative output continues. A new album is scheduled for January release.

He'll perform a free concert at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 as the final show of the ninth season of the Arts on the Allegheny series at the Murtha Amphitheater in Kittanning's Riverfront Park. Singer-songwriter Chelsea Berry will open the show.

“It will be an excellent way to finish our season,” says committee chairwoman Mary Ann Valasek. “I love his mellow sound and his stories of love and life's lessons, which are so relatable.

“I've read that he is a thoughtful and kind man. Of course that shows through in his work, so I would expect a great show from a talented engaging artist,” she adds.

In addition to touring and recording, Taylor is a full professor at Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he teaches a stage performance course.

The Boston native, raised in North Carolina, is the fourth of five children in a musical family.

He brings a broad repertoire from which he can draw in Kittanning, including folk, pop, blues, country, gospel, Broadway and sensitive ballads, as well as a comfortable knack for upbeat storytelling.

“I guess I'm real romantic, and I can get real sentimental about what I'm doing,” Taylor says. “I'm a realist, but I really love to entertain people. When I play live for people, I can help them have a real nice time. It's a very, very fine feeling, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.”

To Taylor, a good song is a good song, whether he writes it or offers his interpretation of it, as he did with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

He loves to write love songs, “but what I particularly love is when I can get a phrase or a lyric or something that just strikes my soul.”

He and brother James get along well.

“It's been very important to me to see his career and learn from it,” Livingston Taylor says.

If there is occasionally a downside, he says, “I believe people on occasion tend to sort of pass over me and say, ‘Well, that's just an imitation of James,' and that's a great misfortune because they really do miss a large quantity of what I feel to be real nice music.”

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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