- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

Singer-songwriter Sally Taylor feels more at home onstage than anywhere else.

Hard to believe she’s the daughter of Carly Simon, the famously stage-shy chanteuse behind “Anticipation” and “You’re So Vain.”

When Miss Simon decided to venture out on her new 10-city tour to support “Moonlight Serenade,” her latest album of standards, she decided to bring Miss Taylor and son Ben Taylor along for the ride.

Not just for moral support, either.

Miss Simon’s children, whose father is her ex-husband James Taylor, are singer-songwriters in their own right. The two will perform their own music before joining the musical matriarch for some three-part harmonies.



The Serenade Tour stops at DAR Constitution Hall at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

“Getting mom on the road has been the biggest trick,” Miss Taylor says. “She really hates performing [live]. When she decided she wanted to do this we were completely overjoyed.”

Its a different story on the home front.

Miss Taylor says her family breaks into song whenever everyone gets together. How could it not? All of James Taylor’s siblings took to music — Livingston, Kate, Hugh and Alex, who died in 1993.

“My parents always collaborated with their sisters and brothers. There’s already a tradition there,” Miss Taylor says.

The family legacy was not one that could be ignored easily.

“When I first started music, I felt sort of shy coming out with my own stuff,” she says, even though she began performing live at the age of 8 and had her own band at 15. “There’s a large shadow to creep out from behind.”

These days, Miss Taylor hugs the family tree unabashedly, unfazed by the inevitable comparisons.

“Sometimes they tell me I sound like my dad, or my mom, or they say I sound completely different,” she says. “All of those are compliments.”

Brother Ben dealt with his family ties in a different way.

The singer-songwriter’s 2002 album “Famous Among the Barns,” credited to the Ben Taylor Band, featured a voice eerily similar to his father’s but a band sound all its own.

“I listened to everyone else’s perspective but my own,” he says of his approach at the time. For the just-released “Another Run Around the Sun,” he ditched the “Band” and followed his muse — even if it meant sounding more like his famous father.

“It’s really a matter of the place where I’m at musically,” he says. “You write a batch of songs, and you think to yourself, ‘Should I hide from what I sound like?’ ”

The Taylor children weren’t home-schooled in the fine points of writing and performing music, nor were they pushed into the family business. Instead, they watched two disparate approaches to the craft.

“My father has a haphazard, mystical way of going about songwriting,” Mr. Taylor says. “I don’t think he even knows how it goes.”

His mother, in contrast, took a more “calculated” path. “She knows what she’s doing with it,” he says.

The Serenade tour finds Miss Simon singing more chapters from the American songbook. Those who gobbled up Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook albums may not know Miss Simon has been thumbing through the same text since her 1981 album “Torch.”

“She invented the genre and doesn’t get recognized enough for it,” says Mr. Taylor, every bit the proud son. “She does it better than anybody else except for Frank [Sinatra]. She makes them her own like they were written for her.”

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