The gospel industry was rocked this weekend by the death of gospel industry heavyweight Kenny Taylor. Known as one of the most affable, generous and sincere individuals in the industry, Taylor passed away on Saturday, May 27.
Kenny Taylor was gospel music at its best. He was a top promoter, record executive, manager, as well as a skilled gospel musician. On multiple occasions, he was named one of the top 10 independent gospel consultants of the year by Gospel Industry Round-Up. He was a 2015 Rhythm of Gospel Lifetime Achievement recipient and was an Executive Board Member of the National & Independent Gospel Music Association. Taylor also served on the Gospel Music Heritage Month DC Host Committee for the Evolution of Gospel concert held at the Kennedy Center each September. Taylor’s list of affiliations, awards and achievements are too numerous to mention.
However, perhaps not widely known by some, Taylor was also a community activist who used gospel music to keep youth on the right path. He organized the community choir, Images of Unity, for the NAACP. It was there that many young people found their voice and walked into their purpose. The choir celebrated their 20th anniversary with a reunion concert in 2013.
Pop culture expert and TV host Jawn Murray was a member of Images of Unity and in his Facebook tribute to Taylor said, “Kenny Taylor was a mentor, an advisor and one of the first people that recognized my gifts and talents. Murray also said of Taylor, “He was a man of style, a true person of integrity, a diehard supporter to many and a beloved member of the Gospel community.”
One of Taylor’s staple events was the midnight musical and many were looking forward to his presence at the 50th anniversary of GMWA. With Taylor in the mix, there was no question that the musical would be jam-packed with the best musical gifts. As a president of Teemade Productions, his many clients included Maurette Brown Clark, Dottie Peoples, Earnest Pugh, the Brown Boyz, Bubby Fann & Praise Beyond, Lucinda Moore, the Rev. Timothy Wright Memorial Choir and many others.
Dottie Peoples and Kenny Taylor at the Stellar Awards (2013)
He always supported artists in the DMV. It was not unusual to see Taylor at many concerts and recordings, even if he could only stay for a little while. He loved gospel music and those who made it, both veterans and newcomers alike.
Kenny Taylor’s impact speaks for itself in this sampling of tributes and reactions to his passing:
Bryant Scott, President at Tyscot Records: Kenny Taylor was a REAL friend who never had anything but positive encouragement and brotherly love. The entire Tyscot Records family and the Scott family will miss you. RIH!
Ron Magnus, GMWA Counsel: Quite simply one of the greatest friends I have ever known. On behalf of GMWA, GMHM I want to salute this brother Kenny Taylor who was Mr. Gospel. Known by everyone, he supported gospel everywhere, he loved the Lord and Gospel Music.
Jason Hardy, Gospel music publicist: One of the nicest people you would ever meet. My heart is numb. The Gospel music industry lost another good one
Tracy Artis, President, I Hear Music in the Air: My friend and music industry colleague Kenny Taylor received his wings yesterday. He was so kind had a great smile and loved the industry and was always willing to help others.
Charles Butler, Stellar-nominated recording artist: This man has been a tremendous blessing to my ministry over the years. Kenny helped so many Artist out and he really looked out for the ones in the DMV. I’m really going to miss this guy.
Earnest Pugh, Stellar-nominated recording artist: Wow. Great loss for the Gospel Music Industry. My friend & brother Kenny Taylor got his wings to glory. #sad #gone2soon
It is these and many other attributes shared about Kenny Taylor that has permeated the past 36 hours. Although widely known across the country and internationally, Kenny Taylor was a giver of time and talent to others and remained loyal to his DMV community. Always willing to lend an ear or a hand, he was not self-absorbed nor consumed with own popularity. His ability to deposit into the spirits of those around him was his real signature brand.
Yes Lord Radio’s Ron Briggs perhaps summed it up best in his tribute, “I confess that everything that is good, pure and lovely about this industry —- you embodied.”
A memorial service for Kenny Taylor will be announced shortly.
©2017 Sarah Hearn, All rights reserved.