A distinctive, contrabass voice recently put West Chester in the national limelight via a singing competition television series, as well as on social media. Resonating from 20-year-old Luke Taylor, that voice was first heard by those who live in his hometown of Thornton/West Chester and Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills. That same voice earned Luke a golden ticket to Hollywood.
Now a Liberty University sophomore and music student, Luke advanced to the next round of "American Idol" season 20 on March 6 after singing a cover of the class hit “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash in the audition episode. The 2022 series is American Idol franchise’s fifth one to air on the ABC Network. Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry returned as the show's judges, while Ryan Seacrest is hosting again.
Carol Taylor, Luke's mother, says much of what's occurred regarding Luke's voice since late December 2020 has been kind of surreal. That's when Luke posted on TikTok a bass line duet of Scottish singer Nathan Evan's cover of "The Wellerman/Soon May the Wellerman Come," a 19th-century whaling tune and the song that sparked the sea shanty craze that swept the social networking app in early 2021.
Luke's post subsequently went viral. "His eyes were huge when he walked into the room the next morning and announced, 'Something of mine just blew up,'" Carol recalls.
She says Luke and his brother, Sam, always have loved singing and being in plays. "My husband, Rob, is the musical one. He plays piano and guitar, and used to grab the kids to sing with him. It was just part of our normal household," says the teacher at a home school facility for prekindergarten through senior level. "But I never thought it would lead to anything like this."
Luke says his voice didn't drop to a deep basso profundo until he was going on 17; that's considered the deepest possible vocal register. "I went from being 4-foot-11 and singing alto to 6-foot-1 and singing bass," he says.
Carol says Luke received so many comments on his lower voice, he considered pursuing a career in broadcasting. "But, he's definitely always loved singing. And the positive feedback on TikTok gave him encouragement."
Last March, Luke went to Los Angeles to take part in Season 2 of FOX’s show, “I Can See Your Voice,” through which a panel of judges guesses whether contestants look or act like a quality singer. However, he didn't advance past the first round in that show.
“American Idol” scouts appeared to develop an interest in the budding country music artist last year after seeing his popularity grow on social media, as evidenced by his 2.5 million followers on TikTok.
Luke's 23-year-old sister, Abigail Taylor, says the family is proud of him, and glad that he's getting to show the world his vocal chops.
"It was stressful for us to see him compete, but he has an amazing voice, and he's charming and fun. So we were confident the judges would want to let him through, even if they didn't love his [audition] song," Abby adds.
Sources indicate the auditions rounds of "American Idol" 2022 took place from Aug. 5, 2021 to Oct. 28, 2021.
Luke says it was exciting to film for the show in Nashville, Tennessee. He says he was on-site each day from about 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. “The actual experience was really fun," he adds. Besides filming in usual locations in California, this season's show reportedly also was filmed in Austin and Disney Aulani in Hawaii.
"Voices like you have, there's always a place for them," Luke Bryan told Luke during the audition.
Carol says it was fun to have friends over to watch the audition night. "And it's been great with people reaching out to say they've seen Luke on TV. But this is something I never thought would happen in my life," she adds.
Jacob Couch, with Liberty's Office of Communications & Public Engagement, confirms that at the university Taylor sings with the School of Music’s Chamber Singers, and is also the bass vocalist in the school’s a cappella group, Shine. During the October 2021 Homecoming Concert, Jacob reported that Taylor was asked to join alumni Guy Penrod (’85), Mark Lowry (’80), and Jody McBrayer on stage for a song.
What about this aspiring singer's competition for a recording contract and a shot at wealth and fame? As a nature lover, Luke has been quoted as indicating that his dream job is to tour the United States as a country singer, and to be a family man who lives on a farm near Nashville is his dream life. And yes, he admits he hopes to tour at some point with his country music inspiration and fellow bass singer, Josh Turner.
Editor's Note: At presstime, the full schedule and live show airing dates for "American Idol" had not been announced, however it appeared that Hollywood Week would start broadcasting on March 28. Luke is the only 2022 contestant from Pennsyvlania. Whenever the shows air, West Chester community residents surely will be rooting for luke.the.voice_.