BORN INTO A MUSICAL FAMILY, where both parents played the piano and sang, and where singing around the piano as a family was a common occurence, Verdena Charla’yne Taylor (or “Polly”, as she is known by her family and friends) discovered at an early age that music was her passion. Taught by her mother and accompanied by her father, she and her siblings (one older brother and two older sisters) would learn songs at their home and perform them together at their local church. Verdena began performing with her family at around age 4 and this experience sparked in her a love for music and vocal harmony. At age 7, Verdena heard an album recorded by “Edwin Hawkins and The Hebrew Boys”. Says Verdena, “They were like the ‘Take 6’ of that era!” It was their intricate harmonies and their beautifully blended voices that caught her attention. Often, she would forgo her childhood playtime, choosing rather to sit by the stereo and pick out, sing and memorize every note of every one of their songs. From that time on, Verdena has been drawn to the complex, the more difficult, the more challenging. At age 9, she became a member of both the Youth Choir at her church and the Young Adult Choir, becoming the youngest member ever to join. Very shortly, thereafter, she was teaching songs and conducting the choir.
At age 12, Verdena was recruited by a local Gospel group, (“The Chimes of Love), to audition. And, before long, she became the new voice and, eventually, the new musical director for that group. They enjoyed local/regional success and exposure throughout the Midwest, the east coast and parts of the south. By age 14, Verdena began to write songs and both she and the group caught the attention of The Late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark and of “Pop” Winans. They began to share the stage, at local engagements, with The Clark Sisters and to share concert billing with The Winans. They went on to sing for 17 years, even opening up for The Hawkins Family, until the group decided, in 1988 (after the death of the group’s manager) to disband and to go their separate ways.
Left with the decision of what to do with the talent, desire and sheer passion for music that God had deposited in her, Verdena decided to keep writing, teaching, directing and developing her ear for intricate harmonies, believing that, in God’s timing, she would get the opportunity to do what she did best! While waiting, she continued to work with local choirs, always pushing them to tackle pieces they thought to be beyond their capabilities. She also developed the ability to work with all types of musicians (most often “male”), even those playing instruments she did not play, and to bring them together to create one uniform sound. Through college, marriage, child-rearing and (unfortunately) through divorce, Verdena continued to work with local choirs and to cultivate her writing, arranging, and conducting skills.
In the early 90’s, Verdena met producer/songwriter/engineer, Tommie (“Big Tom”) Walker, and their mutual love of music made them “fast friends”. They worked on a local play together, as music/stage managers, and vowed to work together someday, on a much larger scale, and to put out their own special “brand” of music. However, “life” happened, and for 10 years, they traveled in different directions and circles…Tommie, becoming a principle band member for award-winning Gospel recording artist(s), Fred Hammond and Radical For Christ, and Verdena, a “steelworker” at a huge, dirty, dangerous and often frightening factory, affectionately dubbed “Gotham City” and “Schindler’s List”, by its employees. But, it was in this environment, while in the midst of her separation and, ultimately…her divorce (after 17 years of marriage), that God began to “show Himself strong” to her in a very personal way. Amidst the taunts of some of her unbelieving co-workers who told her that she’d “retire old and tired and unfulfilled…just like everyone else in the plant”, Verdena held fast to her belief that, in 10 years, God would “bring her out…on EAGLE’S wings” and begin to open doors for her that no man could close, in the music business. In her 9th year at the plant, after having had to turn down a previous opportunity to tour with Fred Hammond and RFC (due to family obligations), Verdena heard from long-time friend, Tommie, who kept his word to her…That he would someday return for her, if and when he got his foot in the door. Says Verdena, “I remember I got this call, one day, just as I was coming in the door from work, covered in grease and soot. I heard this familiar voice ask me, ‘Hey Girl…Whatchu’ doin’? You might wanna sit down….’Cause, at this very moment, I’m building my studio!!!’ I screamed! Then, I cried and began to thank God! Then…I started paying off everything!…So I would be free to pursue my music with everything I had!” A year later, TommieGunn1965 was born and Verdena was brought in as the principle songwriter/arranger . Under the tuteledge of Tommie Walker, and drawing on her skills and experience as a music director, Verdena soon “honed” her skills as a Vocal Producer. Then, to her surprise, the opportunity to sing with Fred Hammond and RFC once again presented itself and she appeared on his “Speak Those Things” CD project(“Everything To Me”), while it was in its final stages of production. God proved to her that He is Faithful! And, that her times and seasons were in His hands! She and Tommie went on to make their mark in the music business as a successful production/writing team. Together, they managed to get two of the first five songs they’d written together “placed”, and their works appeared on the project of Vanessa Williams, acclaimed lead singer and veteran member of “Richard Smallwood and Vision”. Verdena wrote, co-arranged and provided background vocals on the songs “Give Praise” and “Joy” with the late, great writer/arranger/producer, Kayla Parker. Shortly thereafter, with Tommie producing the track, Verdena went on to become the primary writer of Pastor Marvin Sapp’s hit single, “Do You Know Him”, from his 2005 “Be Exalted” CD project. The project did very well and, due in large part to their hit song, Pastor Sapp received his first Grammy nod and “Do You Know Him” was included on the 2006 WOW CD. Following the success of this project, Verdena and Tommie went on to produce the entire soundtrack CD for the highly-acclaimed, nationally-touring Gospel Production, “Issues…We All Got ‘Em”, written and directed by up-and-coming playwright “phenom”, LaTerras R. Whitfield, and starring famed artists such as Kim Fields, Angie Stone, Dave Hollister, Christopher Williams, LaToya London, and Darrin Henson. Following this project, TommyGunn1965 (comprised of Tommie Walker & his wife, Marie, Verdena [“Polly”] Taylor, Johnnie Hogue and Mike Taylor [Verdena’s son]) played a prominent role in the production of the projects of two of Gospel music’s current hot artists: New Gospel Artist, “Marc Ivory and Excelled Praise ” (“Season of God’s Will”, which is his debut CD project) and veteran Gospel Recording Artist, Psalmist and Word Network TV Personality, Lexi (“What Heaven Hears”).
Desiring to help other aspiring artists who, like herself, just need someone to “believe” in them, and to give them a much-needed push, along with a strong desire to pursue her own career as a solo artist, Verdena, at the urging of Tommie, made the decision, in January of 2007, to start her own production company, “PollyTunes Productions”, with her son, Mike [“Big Mike”] Taylor, who is, himself, a sought-after, gifted musician, and who was featured on Lexi’s new “What Heaven Hears” CD. While pursuing her own personal goals and assisting others to do the same, Verdena continues to work with other gifted producers and musicians, such as Noel Hall, Brian O’Neal and Rod Long. Verdena (“Polly”) Taylor is slowly but steadily making a name for herself in the music industry as an outstanding producer (vocal and instrumental), songwriter, vocal arranger and live/session background vocalist. She is best known for her rich harmonic blends and vocal tapestries, as well as her vocal range that reaches from Baritone/Bass to 1st Soprano.
So, watch as Verdena prepares to make her own mark in the industry as a solo artist, as well as one of the “premiere” producers, arrangers, writers and session vocalists in the music industry.