Student shoots for success with original EP
By Samantha Brandbergh
A Westminster Choir College (WCC) senior is now selling her Beautiful Words with a five-song Extended Play (EP) that was released on iTunes on Jan. 15.
Taylor Halpern, a music theory and composition major, under her stage name Taylor Ash, is following her dream with the production and release of her original album Beautiful Words, now available through iTunes. After months of recording, Halpern is eager for her music to be heard.
“It was both a rewarding and trying experience recording this EP,” Halpern said. “I was lucky to find [a studio] that was relatively close and still had all the professional experience to make the EP the best it could be.”
However, not every aspect of this experience was easy. The biggest challenge stemmed from juggling being a student and finding time to record.
“I went up to the studio every Thursday for almost a year.” she explained. “We began production in January and finished in late October. It was sometimes hard to balance my school life and recording. But, in the end, it was all worth it.”
The songs Halpern produced on Beautiful Words all have personal meaning.
“I tend to always write based on my emotions or experiences,” she said. “I find writing to be an outlet for these strong emotions that life may bring us.”
Halpern also broke down the personal meanings to some of the songs on the EP, which were inspired by her friends and family.
“Going to Westminster, I have many close friends in the LGBTQ community,” Halpern said on the inspiration behind the track “Love Already Hurts.” “Love is something that already is hard enough without someone telling you that who you love is wrong. This song is an outcry for understanding, and the hope that one day love will just be love.”
“Immaturity,” an upbeat song, is described by Halpern as a “female empowerment ballad.”
“Everyone goes through break-ups, but what is important is that you get yourself back out there,” she said. “You learn to love yourself and you continue to have fun with or without a man by your side.”
Regarding the idea of female empowerment, Halpern says that she was musically inspired by a wide variety of female performers from various genres.
“Some of my biggest musical influences are Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, Jewel, Laura Marling and Adele,” Halpern said. “They write music that is both powerful and beautiful and are not afraid to write about what they feel or believe in.”
In addition to this accomplishment, Halpern will also give a recital of her music on April 18 at 7 p.m. on the Princeton campus.
Halpern has been preparing for this recital for four years, which she says will include “choral works, a piano suite, an art song cycle and finish with a set of folk music.”
Joel Phillips, professor of composition and music theory at WCC, is impressed with the work he has seen with Halpern.
“Taylor is a versatile performer,” he said. “[She is] a solo artist who plays guitar or piano and sings her original music, and [also is] a collaborative artist who sings with a band or with one of Westminster’s renowned choirs.”
Phillips also acknowledged Halpern’s increasing improvement over her four years at WCC because of the faculty’s encouragement and her strong motivation.
“Within our department we are very excited about this, but Taylor is just getting [the] promotion off the ground in time to tour this summer,” Phillips said. “The truly exciting thing about this is that Taylor’s story is representative of the many talented and inspiring young artists that are developing at the university.”
As far as furthering her musical career, Halpern is showing no signs of stopping.
“So far, my goals with my music are to continue to write, to play as often as possible in as many places around the country as possible, and to try to get my music as far as I can out in the world,” she said.
In wake of the EP, Halpern is also hoping to set even bigger goals this summer and in the years to come.
“The next step would be signing with a label and producing a full-length album, which I hope to do in the near future,” she said. “For now, touring is what the next year has in store for me, and I couldn’t be more excited to keep sharing my music with people.”
printed in the 4/1/15 edition