By Emily Collins
Florence Taylor is well known to local audiences, having performed at many events and venues around Howden from a young age.
But now, the mezzo soprano singer is also becoming well known to audiences up and down the country, thanks to her talented vocals and spine-tingling performances.
At only 22 years of age, Florence is just starting her career in the industry but has already performed at York’s Grand Opera House and sang with the Northern Academy of Performing Arts. She was even invited to perform at BBC Countryfile Live at Castle Howard last summer, a performance that she describes as the highlight of her career so far.
After graduating from Leeds College of Music last year she’s now heading to the prestigious Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance to study for a master’s degree in music.
Florence says she is delighted to be attending the school, adding: “I am so excited to move to London in September. Although the Covid-19 pandemic means things will be slightly different, I have decided to go ahead with my masters and am really looking forward to it.
“I will be living with my boyfriend, which is really exciting too. I lived in Leeds during my undergraduate degree, but living in London will be a completely new experience.”
With several impressive performances under her belt, Florence is set to make waves in the capital and revealed that she has big dreams for the future: “The list of places I would love to perform at is as long as my arm, but my biggest goals are to perform on a West End stage or at the Royal Albert Hall.
“At the moment though I would just love to perform on any stage!”
With all theatres and venues forced to close during the lockdown, it is several months since Florence was last in her ‘happy place’ – up on stage – but she has not let that stop her spreading joy through her singing.
She explained: “I started doing Quarantine Concerts on my Facebook as a way to bring some music into people’s homes and keep myself entertained throughout the lockdown. However, it has now become so much more than that. So many people have been isolating on their own, including many of my friends and family, and throughout the last few weeks I have realised how special it is to be able to cheer people up through my music.”
When her online performances began to gain popularity, Florence also decided to use her platform to help raise money for key workers. Last month she teamed up with family friend Timothy Gorton to produce a special rendition of Let It Be (Stay At Home), to show support for the NHS, with all proceeds going to the Laura Hyde Foundation, a charity working to support the mental health needs of frontline workers.
The kind-hearted singer has now also started producing special videos for couples who have been unable to get married due to the virus.
She explained: “I realised that many couples had been left devastated at having to cancel their wedding, so I wanted to do something to help.”
Florence decided to offer custom-made videos for couples, singing what should have been their first dance or walk down the aisle song and adding a montage of photographs of the ‘nearly wed’ couple, again with all profits going to the Laura Hyde Foundation.
We asked Florence to share some of her top tips with Howdenshire Magazine readers who want to follow in her footsteps and pursue a career in music.
She said: “My biggest tip has to be…learn your music! I really struggled with my nerves at first and I realised that, until I could get to a point where I could literally concentrate on a bird singing outside or what I was having for dinner, there was no chance of me conveying the song properly and enjoying what I was singing without nerves.
“Also, always warm up! When I haven’t in the past it has done terrible things to my voice.
“Finally, just go for it. If you want to learn to sing, insecurity and holding back are some of the worst things for the voice and can really strain it, so let loose and belt it out!”
Despite already having achieved so much, Florence remains very humble and says she just loves to see the reaction of her audiences and put a smile on their face.
Quick-fire Q&A with Florence Taylor:
What’s your favourite thing about Howden?
“Well apart from Kitchen, it has to be the people. Having grown up in Howden, I know how friendly everyone is and I really feel at home there.”
What is your favourite place to eat in Howden?
“Well I guess I have already answered that, Kitchen!”
What is your favourite shop in Howden?
“I love them all! That is another great thing about Howden, there are so many unique small businesses. If I had to choose just one I think I would say Tom Loves, I wish I could buy everything in there!”
What’s your favourite musical?
“That’s a really hard question, but I would have to say Les Misérables. In 2015, I had the opportunity to take part in a West End Summer School and we were lucky enough to meet the cast of ‘Les Mis’ and that is what really made me know I wanted to go into music. I can never watch it and not cry.”
What is your favourite song to perform?
“A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, or any of the wartime songs. I just love seeing the reaction of the older generation, who were alive during the war, remembering the songs that they listened to in their childhood.”
- For more information on how to support Florence’s fundraiser for the Laura Hyde Foundation or to watch her Quarantine Concerts, visit her Facebook page.