Taylor Austin Dye is living the dream through her music
When it comes to young women growing up in Kentucky, many of us would sit and sing the songs of those that influenced us and raised here. Whether it be Patty Loveless, Loretta Lynn, or even the Judds, we felt the emotion and dialect of a twang that rolled right off their tongue. We imagined being able to sing on stage with them or open a concert with them as headliner. For Taylor Austin Dye, she is getting ready to fulfill that dream by opening for Wynonna Judd at Renfro Valley Entertainment Center this Friday to a sold-out crowd.
Taylor Austin Dye’s country roots of performing began at a young age of 5 years old right on stage at Renfro Valley. Dye recalls, “I did the Young Country and the Barn Dance and did that for years. We clogged up here too sometimes. I sang outside quite a bit and in the church. I did a bunch of talent shows around here over the years.”
Prior to Renfro Valley, Taylor recalls that she started singing in church at the age of 4. “I started taking fiddle lessons when I began kindergarten. I don’t remember how it all came about. My music teacher, Bob, had a few students that would come down and I fell into it and ran with it,” Taylor said. Taylor would go on to teach students on her own after college while working at a radio station at the same time.
The moment she picked up a microphone, she knew that she was destined to sing. “I remember when I picked up my first instrument when I was five. I wanted to be a rock star; I wanted to be just like Hank Jr.,” according to Taylor. “I just always knew it. I never had a backup plan. I went to college and studied music and no backup plan there obviously. So I thought well if I don’t make it, I don’t have other options. That makes you work a little harder.”
In January 2018, Taylor would pack her bags and head south to Nashville to see what she could do to enhance her singing as a full-time career. She initially started making the trip back and forth from her home in Owsley County. “I would drive down and play at a bar on Broadway until midnight and then wouldn’t get home until 5 o’clock in the morning. Eventually I realized that this is what I wanted to do anyway. I bit the bullet and moved down there and been there ever since.”
The first piece of advice she was given upon living in Music City was “don’t be the watered-down version of anything” from her uncle. “No one wants to hear the Walmart clean version. Be who you are and don’t lose your accent,” Taylor recalled. That advice has been taken and well received.
While the rest of the world was shut down due to the pandemic, Taylor utilized that free time to grab her cell phone and guitar. The best way to reach out to the world was through social media and she gained new fans through her presence on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. Whether it is beauty tips, promoting new songs, or showing off a personal side, she gained her fanbase. In explaining the boom in her popularity from social media, Taylor says, “TikTok as a platform is insane. You never know what the algorithm is going to push. The stupidest things will get a half million views and I’m so confused. When I first started, it was a quarantine thing and I was home all of the time. So I thought I’m going to record a video. I originally recorded a video of me singing Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac. It immediately got over 300,000 views. It was my first video so I thought I would post some more videos. I kept on and I had been on for less than a year and already hit over 100,000 followers, so it is something that I’ve connected with a lot of fans that way. I do weekly livestreams on there and it’s like people get on there and it’s a community where we get on there. We formed this thing called the Ride or Dyes, a play on my last name, kind of like a fan club. We’ve had so many people get involved with that and they are friends with each other, coming out to the shows. It’s like a community now. TikTok is really now how I have reached out to my fanbase on a more personal level. It’s hard to do through photos on Instagram or Facebook, but I feel like you can show more of your personality. I think people really get more attached to you. It’s more personable that way. I love TikTok.”
Now one thing that immediately caught my attention was the fact that Taylor Austin Dye is very much like a young Barbara Mandrell. She can play pretty much whatever instrument you hand over to her – piano, bass guitar, drums, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and even dulcimer.
Then she got the call from Renfro Valley Entertainment Center asking would she like to open up for Wynonna Judd. Upon hearing the news, Taylor said, “I remember calling my mom not knowing if it was a joke or what. I told her that I got this email from this guy at Renfro and I wondered if this was real. She said to answer it back. I was stoked because obviously I grew up in the 90s and all of that 90s country music from females. That was a strong time for women in country music. I’m a huge fan of The Judds, Jo Dee Messina, Martina McBride, all of those strong female singers during that time. Obviously, I covered their stuff when I play. Then me coming back here and having one of my largest opening gigs – I’m glad it’s here where it all started out. It is a full circle moment.”
Taylor Austin Dye has taken her talents from writing whiskey-soaked lyrics to singing to instrumentation to provide a unique sound that sets her apart from other newcomers in country music. What you hear is straight up honky-tonk attitude and what you see is just the same. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as her biggest supporter, her mother, is right there by her cheering her own.
From the young girl that performed at the age of 5 to now opening a sold out show for fellow Kentuckian, Wynonna Judd, Taylor Austin Dye has her sights set in country music. In 2022, she was named one of Kentucky Country Music’s Music Acts to Watch and has proved that she deserved a spot on that list. Stay tune for an album release later this year. In the meantime, be sure to download her music, including “Like You Do,” “Good Time Girl,” “Mean,” “Water Me Down,” and her newest release, “Lucky Man.”
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.