Solo Gospel Ladies In Profile: Kashelle Taylor
Steve Alexander Smith is the writer of British Black Gospel, a book which traces the roots of Gospel in Britain. In this new seven-part series, he will be interviewing seven up and coming female solo gospel or gospel-inspired British artists; each performer will face the same questions but will give unique and individual responses that reflect the complex landscape and environment from which they all emerged. This series was inspired by Rachel Kerr who made history at the 2012 MOBO Awards by being the first female solo artist to win the Best Gospel category - and this week, we’ve got Kashelle Taylor in the chair - an actress and gospel singer who has appeared in Emmerdale where she played a character called Melanie, and also Anna Joy in BBC1’s Doctors. Kashelle has also performed a role in Coronation Street, and featured in a JD Sports commercial. You can find out more about the British Black Gospel book on Amazon.
Where you born and what were was your first experiences of gospel music?
I am from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. My background is in drama, and I'm currently studying Science, Health and Public Nutrition at university. I have been in church since as long as I can remember. My Uncle was a Deacon until he was called to be with the Lord. I remember church being very strict as a child, and the worship team were elderly; I always remember wanting to sing with them and add a little rhythm, but I was told that dancing in church was a sin. I always wondered why there were not no youth in church.
My mum played reggae-gospel around the house, and she would always dance - she made praise and worship look enjoyable. When I was blessed with the opportunity to be a praise and worship leader - thank God - our service style started to attract more youth than adults. The services were more like gospel concerts.
Who is your main influence?
My main influence is my Mum. She always told me to reach for the moon - if I miss, at least I will be among the stars. She always told me to be the best me that I can be! I am also inspired by Kirk Franklin, because I love how transparent and honest he is about his walk with Christ. I love that some of his gospel songs have an R&B twist to them.
What was the low point of your music journey?
As a single parent to a nine-year-old son, my lowest point was being told that I could not sing on the worship team because I had a child out of marriage. I felt isolated from the church. I ended up leaving the church for a few years.
I have also auditioned and sung for people within the music industry who've said I have the look for a girl group and solo projects - but they've always ended up trying to compromise my image. I've had to refuse TV roles because of this too. I remember auditioning for a role to be a police officer in a well known ITV drama, and my agent called to say I didn't get the role but they would love to offer me the role as the lap dancer. It's my faith in God that's kept me focused.
What was the high point of your music journey?
Singing with London Community Gospel Choir at Alexander McQueen's memorial. Famous celebrities in attendance were Naomi Campbell, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Moss. Another high point was being invited to sing the Jamaican National Anthem at the 50th anniversary celebration.
What's your favourite book, song and movie?
My favourite song is 'Something Inside So Strong' I also listen to secular artists like Monica, Beyonce and K Michelle. As a vegan studying Science, I love any book on health, nutrition and science. My testimonial song is Kirk Carr's 'I Almost Let Go'.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing British female solo gospel artists?
As a British female solo gospel artist, I don't believe that the genre is respected as much as some of the other genres. I always love giving back but sometimes I don't think people realise that studio time, preparing for an event all costs and you are always expected to do things for free but then on the other side with the secular industry I feel as though I am expected to compromise myself. My first passion is always God and I do understand why some gospel artist go down the secular route but I believe as long as you trust and believe in God, your path will be directed regardless of where you go in life.
What is your latest recording or live project?
In 2010 I won a singing talent competition and the winning prize was the opportunity to record two songs in a professional studio. I recorded 'Here I am to Worship' and 'Bridge over Troubled Water'.
I also sing with The London Community Gospel Choir and have done backing singing for JLS and X Factor live shows.