Singer-songwriter Isabel Valls draws inspiration from 60s and 70s acoustic folk music, shaping her distinctive musical style and songwriting. Her compositions, while personal, possess a universal relatability, which she delivers through a clear and expressive voice.

Since 2010, Isabel has been actively performing. She has released two albums of her original work under her former name, Taylor: “Awake Again” (2016) and “Isabel Taylor” (2019), both produced by acclaimed guitarist Jon Shain. Both albums secured the 15th spot on the Folk Radio chart.

She currently collaborates with singer-songwriter and guitarist Barry Gray.

Short bio

Based in Durham, NC, Isabel’s musical journey began in 2010 at local open mics, where she sang and played guitar, covering cherished yet lesser-known songs. In 2013, the songwriting bug bit her, prompting her to team up with local award-winning guitarist Jon Shain in 2014 to enhance her guitar skills. Shain went on to produce her original albums: “Awake Again” (2016) and “Isabel Taylor” (Isabel’s former name; 2019).

Performing since 2013, Isabel has graced stages both individually and collaboratively at songwriting showcases, festivals, and private events. Recently, she has joined forces with Barry Gray, a solo artist and Graymatter band member from Burlington, NC.

Hailing from Buffalo, NY, singing has been her lifelong passion, while songwriting serves as an outlet for processing and conveying her life experiences. Her songs often resonate strongly with audiences, with whom she finds profound connection.

Full bio

Isabel’s upbringing was steeped in music appreciation, spanning popular to classical genres. Early on, she developed a love for singing and engaged in choir activities throughout her primary and secondary school years. While she dabbled with various instruments including violin, recorder, flute, and piano, it was during junior high school that she formed a connection with the guitar after a friend introduced her to a few chords. “I could suddenly accompany myself effortlessly, which was a revelation,” she recalls. Armed with just a handful of major and minor chords, she delved into songs by John Denver, Elton John, Cat Stevens, and others she admired. Throughout high school, music remained integral to her social life.

Moving ahead, college and subsequent responsibilities took precedence, temporarily sidelining her musical pursuits. Nonetheless, the desire to perform lingered in the background. In her early forties, she set her sights on participating in a local open mic event. The camaraderie within the performing community kept her engaged, and helped hone her performance skills. Open mics became her new social sphere and it was within this context that she secured her first paid performance opportunity.

Isabel’s early shows featured hidden gems from artists like Neil Young, Nanci Griffith, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, and other folk luminaries. Soon, she joined the North Carolina Songwriters Co-op and ventured into songwriting. Her journey led her to connect with the accomplished songwriter and guitarist Jon Shain in 2014. Under his production, her debut album “Awake Again” was released in June 2016, reaching #15 on the Folk DJ charts by January 2017. Subsequently, her self-titled second album, “Isabel Taylor,” came out in May 2019, once again achieving the #15 spot on the Folk DJ charts.

Highlights of Isabel’s musical journey include:

Isabel is currently writing and performing with fellow guitarist and singer-songwriter Barry Gray.

Isabel is past-president and former 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.