When you’re a young deejay who’s making a name for yourself on the turntables and the world shuts down, what do you do? For New Jersey-based DJ Tay, the advent of the Covid-19 global pandemic taught her the importance of being able to pivot in uncertain times, press on through difficulties and continue to praise God despite the circumstances.
DJ Tay, a gifted percussionist, guitarist, beat maker and producer, knew she had to switch gears if she was going to survive the emotional strains of the pandemic. After a European tour on drums with a renowned artist crumbled and clubs and other venues shuttered due to the virus, the diminutive deejay found herself isolated at home like so many other non-essential workers in mid-March 2020.
But music is essential to DJ Tay, who holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance and production from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This young woman, known as the Princess of Percussion thanks to her drumming skills and a multi-viral video with more than 20 million views, refused to give up. So, she decided to pivot, taking her passion for music to a whole new level.
“Before the pandemic, in addition to drum gigs on the road, I was deejaying in nightclubs, hosting Karaoke events, doing private parties and wedding receptions throughout the New York/New Jersey area,” she recalled. When the pandemic struck, it all came to an abrupt halt. This meant an end to her livelihood. DJ Tay, however, was more concerned with helping people stay connected than her personal finances. So she came up with a plan to keep the music and music lovers on one accord via social media.
“The question was how do I take my deejaying online to maintain a sense of community and togetherness in the midst of being isolated and alone?,” she pondered. The innovative impresario took her love of music, mixing skills and gift of gab to Instagram before settling in on Facebook Live. There she cranked up r ‘n b, house, hip hop, jazz, neo soul and gospel. “It has been a great experience,” she said, flashing that trademark smile. “For all of those who join in, it really feels like a night out on the town even though we are at home,” she said.
The Chicago native gained a legion of loyal followers as DJ Tay’s Party Train picked up steam. Music devotees from coast to coast and as far away as Brazil, Paris and the UK joined in for the weekly music mashup. DJ Tay burned up the turntables as she lip synched and danced to some fan favorites and also urged listeners to “drop dance emojis in the chat, tell the cities where they’re listening or even share what they’re doing.” In no time the online partygoers were chatting with each other and tagging friends to get on the Party Train.
“It’s a real vibe,” DJ Tay enthused about the online community, adding, “and it’s something I couldn’t have dreamed of when I used to play deejay as a child!” Connecting with music fans around the world certainly is a far cry from the little 8-year-old on the South Side scratching her mother’s 45s with the record player needle while emulating radio disc jockeys!
Her ability to pivot during those early dark days came with some unexpected perks that forced the tiny powerhouse to push through to level up. “People began sending me messages in my DM to book me to play on line for special events, like birthdays, anniversaries, church affairs, fund raisers, family reunions, business meetings, college homecoming festivities and even memorial services,” she rattled off without taking a breath. “What started off as just a fun pastime with music and people connecting turned into a totally unexpected blessing!” she said. This young woman of faith said, “It worked out because, by the grace of God, I was willing to shift and press forward to follow the Holy Spirit!”
As doors began to open for her, the young entrepreneur said it brought to mind one of her favorite scriptures, Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Truth be told, she’s been pressing her way all her life as an inspirational speaker at 9 and an award-winning host of a cable television show in the Windy City by the age of 13.
Buoyed by the success of deejaying on line, DJ Tay, also a standup comic who does clean comedy, took to Zoom to host an hour-long comedy show. The multitalented artist recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of her online comedy venture which is held every second Saturday through May at 9 pm EST.
“I launched DJ Tay’s Zoom Room Comedy Club, which featured over 40 comedians, because people needed to be able to laugh and comics wanted to keep up their comedic chops,” she said beaming. “This gave comedians an opportunity to perform before a live audience, even if they were the size of postage stamps, and people got a chance to just kick back and have fun,” she said with a chuckle. She added, “One comic told me he was ready to quit the comedy game, when I invited him to be on the show. Viewers always say it’s nice to see other smiling faces.” Another plus, she’s quick to add with a grin, “It’s free!”
DJ Tay has also pressed her way past obstacles to launch an online store at MsTaylorMoore.com where fans can purchase her music, videos and other merchandise. The latest musical offering is a techno-house version of the jazz standard Good Morning Heartache. She has even teamed up with a Chicago graphic artist for a line of throw pillows, which she designed, called Jazzy: The Marcus Alleyne Collection. Hers is one of four pillows featured in the artist’s renderings of jazz musicians in black and white drawings.
Admittedly, juggling her deejay duties, drum gigs and online business, can be daunting and draining, but this entrepreneur enjoys taking on new challenges with a spirit of excellence. She revealed the strength to do it all results from the power in her praise. “All that I do is tied to my praise and my spiritual beliefs,” she began. While many avoid following through on their dreams for fear of failure, DJ Tay said, “Praising God and trusting Him adds a layer of assurance and support when taking a leap of faith!”
Though there have been countless rejections and disappointments, this first-rate musician takes it all in stride. “I’ve come to realize every “No!” or closed door isn’t bad. I now see that a closed door is for my protection and my growth!” But how does she still manage to juggle all these things and not break a sweat? She explains, “The Lord is my strength and my refuge. When I’m tired, feeling rejected, frustrated and want to give up, that’s where the power of praise comes in!”
Taylor Moore, a highly sought after deejay and drummer, saw her music career sidelined when the corona virus took the world by storm nearly two years ago. In spite of the global epidemic, however, this black girl who rocks has maintained a soaring entrepreneurial spirit and faith beyond her years. During this season of suffering and loss, she learned to pivot with her musical talents, press forward to achieve goals even in the face of insurmountable odds and praise God every step of the way. DJ Tay concluded, “It just feels good to know that even in the midst of a pandemic, God is still blessing and working things out for my good!”
Women in Jazz South Florida, INC
MusicWoman Magazine SPRING 2022
Executive Director, Dr. Joan Cartwright