Americana singer-songwriter Taylor Shae balances school, artistry

Ty Davis

While someone in her peer group would be getting ready to release their first extended play record, 20-year-old Colorado State University student Taylor Shae is set to release her fourth album, “Legend Keeper,” on Oct. 2.

Longmont, Colorado, born and raised, Americana artist Shae has many hopes for her upcoming album, all while balancing school life as a senior studying journalism and media communications.

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“Shae aims to become the titular ‘Legend Keeper,’ telling compelling stories with a timeless quality while catching a glimpse into the current moment. Shae says she was inspired by music’s ability to tell stories and communicate ideas differently than other mediums.”

Like many musicians, Shae grew up in a musical household. Both of her parents are musicians and even met in a band. From a young age, Shae had the instinct to perform, with one of her earliest musical memories being performing at her elementary school talent show. 

“In elementary school or church, Shae would jump at the chance to be able to grab a microphone, whether at recitals or talent shows,” said RD Sandal, Shae’s father. “She jumped right into it at an early age, and I knew that music was going to be an integral part of her life.”

In addition to learning piano, Shae also participated in her school’s band, jazz band, and choir throughout high school. When Shae was 11, she began by entering the singing competition Longmont Idol, a play on the popular singing contest show “American Idol.” Shae said that, in the beginning, she performed covers, but through the encouragement of her vocal coach Jessica Rogalski, vocal instructor at Mojo’s Music Academy and front woman of Mojomama, she began to seriously pursue songwriting and began performing original songs.

Inspired by local musicians, Shae took up the guitar. In her words, “It snowballed from there.” With the help of her father’s studio and production skills, Shae released her first album, “Something to Prove” in 2016 when she was only a sophomore in high school. Since starting college, Shae has also released two albums: “Twenty Paces” in 2018 and “High Stakes” in 2019.

Releasing music is no easy feat, especially when balancing college classes at the same time, but Shae said that she still makes the effort to practice and produce.

“If you love something enough, you find time, and you make time to really pursue what you’re passionate about,” Shae said. “I think that music, for me, is more of a priority in my daily life — sometimes my school work definitely comes second.”

Shae aims to become the titular “Legend Keeper,” telling compelling stories with a timeless quality while catching a glimpse into the current moment. Shae says she was inspired by music’s ability to tell stories and communicate ideas differently than other mediums. 

Like legends, Shae aims to have songs that people can look back on and relate to. Considering it her best work, Shae wants to take the listener on a journey with the new album, from cheerier songs someone can lose focus to, to songs with a poignant message. Her song “What’s Left When” asks the listener to consider what’s left after we use as much of Earth’s resources as we can. “Street Sweeper” expresses frustration and sadness at trying to make change but watching the direction in which society goes.

“Looking back at my first album, it’s kinda crazy to see how far I’ve come since then — not only as a singer-songwriter, but also figuring out the whole recording process,” Shae said. “I think this new album really shows who I am as an artist and who I’m becoming as an artist.”

Shae will celebrate the release of her new album with a performance at City Star Brewing in Berthound, Colorado on Oct. 4. Shae most recently performed at Black and Blues Music and Brews and, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, is looking forward to more venues in the future. 

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Ty Davis can reached at entertainment@collegian.com or Twitter @tydavisACW.