B.E. Taylor, Who Found Niche in Holiday Music

“What Child is This?” Live at Heinz Hall-Video

I shouldn’t be surprised. Much of my career has been spent in retail, where every day of the year is spent anticipating, planning for or fretting about holiday sales. But looking at the Nielsen 2015 U.S. Music Year-End Report, I was still surprised to learn that the Holiday/Seasonal category accounts for more total music sales (digital, physical and streaming combined) than either jazz or classical.

So it’s no surprise, I guess, that artists, from Elvis to Nick Lowe, have found room for a holiday album or two in their catalogs. It would be a missed opportunity, after all.

B.E. Taylor made holiday music an even larger part of his career. Four of the eight albums on his website are holiday-themed. His concerts in Southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio drew over 40,000 fans a year, including two-night sold-out performances at both Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall and Wheeling’s Capitol Music Hall. PBS aired his Christmas concerts during fundraising periods.

But Christmas music wasn’t Taylor’s only accomplishment. With his band B.E. Taylor Group, he came to fame with a 1984 rock hit, “Vitamin L,” which made it to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre commissioned him for a live performance of his love ballads. And Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops joined him in a live performance of his patriotic album One Nation Under God.

Taylor (March 18, 1951-August 7, 2016) was born in Aliquippa, PA, but lived for the past 30 years in my hometown of Wheeling, WV.

“Mary’s Boy Child” on Spotify