Tai Shan - YES, Being different is cool - Meet in the Middle
As Tai Shan’s song says: “It’s cool to be weird.” There’s a good reason that the catchy ode to individuality was chosen as the anthem for the Girl Scouts of America’s Power Up Program. You listen and you think, “YES. Being different is cool.”
Seattle-based pop-folk singer, composer and songwriter Tai Shan is a wonderfully different kind of musician. City Arts magazine raves, “Tai Shan’s music is like hugging a total stranger—kind of awkward and totally wonderful.” Tai is a known for her 50+ songs inspired by works of literature —everything from Stephen King’s Carrie to Dr. Seuss—that span a wide range of themes and musical styles.
Her catchy, layered melodies echo John Mayer and Jack Johnson while her soprano soars somewhere between Joni Mitchell, Alanis Morissette, and Adele. CultureMob says, “Tai sings as if the world was unaware of beauty and it is her task to describe it. She knows each goosebump-raising frequency and proves that whole worlds can exist in a 5-minute song.”
Though she has plenty of her own life stories to draw from—including singing for the Pope, watching all of her belongings ignite in a house fire, playing a music tour through Yellowstone National Park, and teaching songwriting at Seattle’s MO-POP, Dusty Strings, and Seattle Girls School—Tai prefers to mine literature. She gives musical voice to literary characters and fully immerses the audience in the story.
In 2016, Tai was awarded a Jack Straw (Cultural Center) artist recording grant to complete a second album inspired by books. This one focuses on female narratives. Songs include one from the point of view of the mother in the Stephen King thriller Carrie and the song Stubborn Girls, inspired by stubborn girl protagonist Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time.
A Cornish College of the Arts- trained classical and jazz composer, Tai celebrates her wide-ranging influences. “Producers and marketers are always trying to define my brand, get me to have a streamlined sound, ” Tai said. But she believes music should serve the song and its story, even if that means hopping from do-wop to country. She writes on guitar and piano then invites in collaborators to build the world of each song. For her last album, Living Fiction, those collaborators include Emily Westman of Sisters, along with the 60-piece Seattle Rock Orchestra, on the song “American Dream.”
Film and TV producers are drawn to Tai’s storytelling prowess. She wrote music for the award-winning web series Manic Pixie Dream Wife and scored the HBO documentary The Search for Turtle Island. Her music has been featured on the Highlander TV series as well as over 100 Hewlett-Packard training videos. She’s played up and down the West Coast and at the iconic Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. In the Northwest, Tai has performed on NPR and at nearly every major venue in Seattle, including Benaroya Hall, the Moore Theater, the Tractor, Bumbershoot, and Seattle Comicon.
Meet In The Middle, an album that combines my love for making music with my husband Austin WITH my love for literature, especially stories with strong female characters.
Coincidentally, the release of this album marks the one-year anniversary with my husband Austin, so I guess it ALSO combines my love of literature with the ups and downs of married life! We've been touring the United States together in our 13-foot Scamp trailer (which you can see in a picture at the bottom) and it has been a REAL ADVENTURE!
It was funded by a generous grant from Jack Straw Cultural Center and the generous donations of 53 backers on kickstarter who funded the project 188% above our goal.
MEET IN THE MIDDLE
When I was a little girl, my mother worked a late night shift and my father spent countless hours reading us bedtime stories, thus nurturing my love for reading and literature. I've delved into literary characters before with my 2nd album Living Fiction and I wanted to continue those ideas with Meet In The Middle.
I've always felt like characters in books have had something to say other than what the narrator is telling us, so as a songwriter I love the ability to write songs from these character's perspective as a way to give a voice to the voiceless or add music to a poignant scene of a book.
Meet In the Middle is inspired specifically by the strong women I have read about or met in my life and the impact that they have had on me.
“Stubborn Girls” was inspired by the character Meg from the book A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'Engle
“Last Thing on Your Mind” was inspired by Stephen King's CARRIE
"The Oldest Lullaby" was written about about a woman who was addicted to the sand that would make her sleep and dream from Neil Gaiman's graphic novel SANDMAN
"Mary's Song" inspired by subject in Mary Roach's book Bonk about the sex studies conducted in the 50's
"Who Got Columbus High" inspired by Micheal Pollen's book Botany of Desire about the history of marijuana
1. Meet in the Middle
2. Last Thing on Your Mind
3. Mary's Song
4. Love is Changing Us
5. Oldest Lullaby
6. Before the Dawn
7. Stubborn Girls
8. Standing Outside the Fire
9. Who Got Columbus High
10. All I see is You
11. Out of the Frying Pan
12. At Last'
Tai Shan: lead vocals, guitar
Austin Garrison, Amanda Sue Winterhalter, Katrina Kope: background vocals
Tim Carey, Marina Christopher, Chirs Aguayo, Tarik Abouzied: bass
Josh Rawlings, Chris Blankenburg: keyboard
Tarik Abouzied, Mark Blasco, Chris Aguayo: drums
Mark Blasco: guitar
Andrew Joslyn: Violin//Viola
Natalie Mai Hall: cello