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Norfolk's Grant Austin Taylor to open for 38 Special at Fort Monroe July 4
By Sam McDonald
12:14 p.m. EDT, July 3, 2011
Norfolk's Grant Austin Taylor has done his growing up in public. The 16-year-old guitarist has been impressing and rocking local audiences for years.
As a musician and entertainer, he's got chops and experience. Many high schoolers day dream about what Taylor does routinely.
On July 4, he'll get to open the show for 38 Special at Fort Monroe as the community gathers for a free Independence Day concert.
Taylor's been a busy young man lately. He told me about frequent songwriting trips to Nashville, a new duet partner and big gigs out of town.
Taylor said he's been working to develop a distinctive musical voice.
"My style has developed," he said. "Itís kind of like a country rock thing, like Keith Urban ... Iíve been doing a lot of songwriting in Nashville, and playing with my duo partner, Aria Summer [Wallace]. She was an actress on 'iCarly.'"
Taylor said he's been traveling to Nashville for years, but last summer, when playing a National Association of Music Merchants event, he made an important connection. He was introduced to songwriter Stephony Smith, who has penned hit songs including "It's Your Love," a smash for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
"She introduced me to some people," Taylor said. "Nashville is a good networking place. Itís cool once you get in the loop. People are friendly there."
He met Aria Summer the same night he met Smith. He and Summer make a good team, he said.
"We have kind of a cool sound. Weíre singing and playing guitar. Itís awesome...It's cool working with other people on stage, kind of fun, that chemistry thing."
Looking ahead to November, Taylor said he'll be traveling to Biloxi, Mississippi, to play an event celebrating the 100th birthday of blues legend Robert Johnson.
He's got plenty of local gigs planned in between, including Sept. 17 at the Isle of Wight County Fair.
Right now, though, his sights are set on rocking hard for the Fourth of July.
"At Fort Monroe, I'll try to do an instrumental, like Jimi Hendrix, of 'America the Beautiful.' I think it will go over good," he said. "I'll also be playing some new originals and a couple of cool country covers. Itís going to be a fun show."