In June next year, after the San Lorenzo Valley High School graduates toss their caps, 17-year-old Taylor Rae Vencill will head for the stars—on Hollywood Boulevard, that is. But Vencill doesn’t aspire to be the next Julia Roberts, rather she hopes to end up .2 miles east of Grauman’s Chinese Theater at Musicians Institute, the college of contemporary music that birthed Jeff Buckley and Weezer bassist, Scott G. Shriner. There, the Ben Lomond singer-songwriter—who has taken vocal lessons since age 8 and taught herself guitar at 12—hopes to become immersed in music. “It’s something I have to do,” Vencill says of songwriting. “I don’t feel good until it’s done.” Inspired by nature and Santa Cruz’s residents, Vencill writes mature songs for her age—lyrics off her self-titled album, like “Will you ever come back around and tell me the truth, because falling in love with thin air isn’t so hard to do,” prove she’s well beyond her years. Asked about her songwriting process, Vencill explains, “I get into a zone, almost like a coma, and then when I come out of it, I can’t believe I came up with it.” While her May 2010 release, packed with layered harmonies, folky instrumentation, and a country-pop twist, has gotten some exposure on iTunes, Vencill says she’s struggled to get noticed. “Santa Cruz is not exactly L.A. or Nashville,” she laughs. Her local following might disagree—her CD release at Trout Farm attracted 140 people. At work on her second album, Vencill admits her sound has already evolved. “[Taylor Rae] is upbeat, and mostly pop—but since then, I’ve changed,” she says. “My next EP will be more folky.” In the spotlight or not—she’d love a behind-the-scenes songwriting career—Vencill is on the rise. “I would love for people to hear my art—even if I’m not the artist singing. I hope that my lyrics touch people.”
INFO: “Taylor Rae” is available on iTunes. For a list of upcoming shows and to hear her music, visit reverbnation.com/taylorraemusic, or myspace.com/taylorraemusic.