Wendy Taylor Pays Back Fans with Keller Williams Concert

Wendy Taylor has had quite a year, what with making it to Hollywood on American Idol (after three tries) and losing her house in Huffman to a fire.  The Keller Williams Concert at Kings Harbor last Friday night was a way for the singer/songwriter and single mother of three young boys to count her blessings and show her appreciation to her local fans. “Kingwood has supported me for years,” Taylor announced to the audience. “This is the first time I’ve gotten to pay you back!”

Many of Taylor’s long-time fans may not have recognized her immediately.  Her trademark red hair was recently cut short with angled bangs, covering her bright blue eyes.  She said she made the drastic change in her appearance because “she was bored.” However, she insured that no one was bored at the concert by executing a well-organized and entertaining evening.

Her first surprise was an eleven-year-old “warm-up” act named Jonah Miles. The Riverwood Middle School sixth grader quickly got the audience’s attention by singing like a young Michael Jackson accompanied by the Jackson 5. He followed that up by accompanying himself on the guitar while singing “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars. Showing the poise of a much older entertainer, Miles encouraged the crowd to wave their hands and sing along with him to Justin Bieber’s “Baby.”

When he finished, Taylor acknowledged that she was the precocious young man’s first vocal coach. The beaming Kingwood boy stepped aside for his former instructor, saying: “Tonight my dream came true.”  Taylor, stepping out in thigh-high, spike-heeled boots, kicked off her performance with a little Pink, singing with the same fierceness as the pop artist named after a color.

The second surprise came from guest performer Brian Best on saxophone.  Best, who is scheduled to tour this fall with Grammy Award winner Regina Bell, could have been a concert in himself.  He treated the crowd to outstanding sax solos while Taylor performed “Write You a Love Song” and “Before You Cheat.”

As the night progressed, Taylor highlighted the talents of each of the other members of her large, seven-person band which included two back up vocalists.  Jorvan Butler gave a blazing keyboard solo to “Something to Talk About” while Taylor sung the song popularized by Bonnie Raitt. Taylor did, in fact, give the crowd something to talk about when she got the heel of her boot stuck in one of the Plaza fountain holes. She laughed it off, but turned in the boots for some purple high tops during the next set.

During the band’s break, Keller Williams’ Master of Ceremonies Roland Duhon encouraged the crowd to purchase raffle tickets to benefit the concert’s featured charity: Zach Jones Memorial Fund.  He introduced Zach’s mother Connie Jones. She explained that the organization was founded after her son died from being bitten by a bat with rabies in 2006. Since then, they have raised $125,000 to fund rabies research and the same amount to fund scholarships for Humble ISD high school students. She explained that many wild animals including skunks, coyotes, foxes and raccoons can carry rabies, in addition to bats. She said, “If we knew then, what we know now, we would still have our son. Thank you to the Keller Williams realtors for the great thing that they do for the community by holding these concerts.”

Representatives from the band sponsor, Tasting the Town, also spoke about their event which will take place on Sept. 22 from 4-10 p.m. at the Humble Civic Center.  “It’s an opportunity to taste bite-size samples from restaurants and phenomenal wines from Texas,” said event organizers Tiffany Bauer and Jennifer Jozwiak.

When Taylor came back for her second set, she produced a sampling of Aretha Franklin tunes with booming vocals comparable to the “Queen of Soul.” She sang Franklin’s “Respect” and danced around with the kids on the Plaza while Willie Curtis and Corey Stoot jammed on their guitars. She followed that up with “I Will Survive,” which could just be Taylor’s anthem for 2012.

She saved her original work for last. She sang all three songs off her debut CD, “Hold Me Down,” which includes the album’s title track, “Driving in My Car” and “Real Good, Real Bad.”

Often compared to a young Bette Midler, not just because of the color of her hair, Taylor pulled off a show with humor and bravado reminiscent of her idol. Speaking of Idol, Taylor may just make another run at the TV show. She was spotted in the contestant line when Idol was auditioning in Houston just a couple of weeks ago, but she is forbidden by the show to comment on the results.  After Friday night’s live musical performance in Kingwood, Taylor certainly made some more fans on her quest for stardom.