Isabel Valls (formerly Taylor) is a singer-songwriter whose foundation in 60s and 70s acoustic folk music informs her musical style and songwriting. Her songs are personal, yet universal and relatable — she delivers them with a clear, expressive voice.
Isabel’s sophomore self-titled album, Isabel Taylor, was released in May 2019 and reached number 15 on the Folk Radio chart in June 2019.
Her debut album, Awake Again, released in June 2016, also reached number 15 on the Folk Radio chart, in January 2017.
Based in Durham NC, Isabel started singing at local open mics in 2010, accompanying herself on guitar. It wasn’t long before she was playing her own shows and writing songs.
She performs regularly at local venues, festivals, and private events in the Triangle (NC) and on the coast. A native of Buffalo, NY, singing has been a passion of hers since childhood, and songwriting has become a way of personally expressing her views on life and love.
“Though I began by covering songs by artists that I felt were ‘hidden gems,’ I find that writing songs is even more fulfilling. There is nothing like singing an original song and experiencing the audience’s connection to it.”
Isabel’s sophomore album, Isabel Taylor, produced by award-winning songwriter and guitarist Jon Shain, was released in May 2019 and reached number 15 on the Folk Radio chart in June 2019. Her debut album, Awake Again, also produced by Shain, was released in June 2016. It also reached number 15 on the Folk Radio chart, in January 2017.
Isabel grew up in a family that appreciated music, from popular to classical. From a very young age she loved to sing, and participated in choirs throughout her primary and secondary school years. Valls tried her hand at a number of instruments, including violin, recorder, flute, and piano, but it was the guitar that she connected with in junior high school, after being shown how to play a few chords by a friend. “I suddenly could accompany myself very easily — it was a revelation! Knowing just a few major and minor chords, I learned many of the songs I loved by John Denver, Elton John, Cat Stevens, and so many others.” Throughout high school, music and singing was a big part of Isabel’s social scene.
Fast forward a few years — college, and later work and family take priority, and taking time for playing and singing felt like an indulgence she couldn’t afford. But a lifelong desire to perform was always in the back of her mind, and in her early forties she set a goal to perform at a local open mic. With the encouragement of her then-husband, she reached that goal in 2010. The supportive community of fellow performers kept her coming back, and her skills steadily improved. Open mics became her new social scene, and it was at one of these that she was offered her first paying gig.
Isabel’s early shows included lesser-known songs by Neil Young, Nanci Griffith, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, and many other folk icons, and it wasn’t long before Taylor got involved with the North Carolina Songwriters Co-op and took up songwriting. In 2014, she connected with award-winning songwriter and guitarist Jon Shain, who produced her debut CD Awake Again, released in June 2016, which reached #15 on the Folk DJ charts in January 2017. Her second album, self-titled Isabel Taylor, was released in May 2019 and also reached #15 on the Folk DJ charts..
Highlights of Isabel’s musical journey include:
- Released sophomore album Isabel Taylor, May 2019; reached #15 on the Folk Radio chart, June 2019
- Featured on local NPR station WUNC’s program, The State of Things, appearing live with guitarist and producer Jon Shain, May 2018
- Alternate finalist in Broward Folk Club‘s 2018 South Florida Folk Festival‘s Singer/Songwriter Competition with “What the Water Knows” and “Hold Her Like Sand”
- Selected for the Carrboro Music Festival 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
- Toured in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC with Leah Kaufman, Oct. 2017
- Debut album Awake Again reached number 15 on the Folk Radio chart, Jan. 2017
- Featured at “A Celebration of NC Songwriters,” sponsored by Six String Presents at the Cary Theater, with Wyatt Easterling, Kirk Ridge, Rebekah Todd, and Dean Driver, Sept. 2016
- Toured in Maryland and Virginia with Tokyo Rosenthal and Michael Daughtry as the “Americana All-Stars,” August 2016
- Released debut album, Awake Again, June 2016
- Featured at songwriter-in-the-round concert, sponsored in part by Six String Presents, with Spencer Scholes and Bill Whitmore, Jan. 2016
- Opened for David Wilcox at a Pinnacle View benefit event, April 2015
- Featured on the Tokyo Rosenthal Program, taped in front a live audience in Pittsboro, NC, with Tom Ed White, Sept. 2014
- Selected for musicSPARK at Raleigh’s SPARKcon, 2014, 2015
- Featured in Healthy Aging magazine, “Finding Your Inner Artist”
- Performed live on Carrboro’s WCOM FM radio, Little Raleigh Radio, and WHUP FM, Hillsborough
- Recorded demos for the Betty Swain Project
Isabel is past-president and webmaster for the North Carolina Songwriters Co-op, and a former board member and webmaster for the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA), a regional chapter of Folk Alliance International.