PICTURED: Neo-soul and R&B artist Taylor C’Mone. Photo submitted

by Marina Dunbar

The 805 has produced many talented musicians who breathe life and soul into the area that produced them. Ventura County native Taylor Simone, stage name Taylor C’Mone, is blending elements of old-school blues with modern musical production techniques. Her debut album WOMXN is the spirit of an old soul with the tastes of a trendy innovator. 

It’s no wonder that C’Mone is able to achieve such a distinctive aesthetic, as music has been an intrinsic part of her life since before she was born. 

“Starting from the beginning, my mom said that when she was pregnant with me she already knew I was going to be a singer,” she explains. “That’s why she named me Taylor Simone . . . she wanted me to have a unique middle name, so that’s the name that I go by. My mom sings a little too, but she is shy. My grandmother also is a singer. I definitely come from a music-loving family.”

C’Mone’s father, Dexter Nunnery, is also currently her manager. His own love for music is evident in his charity work. Before the COVID-19 pandemic dismantled live performances, he ran an organization called Hip Hop Help which provided financial assistance to people in need by raising money through live shows.

Beyond the labels

“I’ve been singing my whole life, as long as I can remember,” C’Mone recalls. “When I was little, I recorded a cover song in my dad’s home studio. I never really made my own music though, I wasn’t into writing that much, I was just into doing cover songs. But recently, in 2020, I made my first album.”

Though often described as neo-soul by listeners, C’Mone’s music draws from a variety of genres and influences. 

“Music has always been a natural thing for me,” she says. “My mother had a wide range of music tastes that I was exposed to when I was younger. She had this big flipbook of CDs that she would keep in the car. It was always fun for me to go through her CDs and pick what we would listen to.”

As she explains, it can be difficult to assign a title to something that is cultivated through years of listening to different styles. “A lot of people tell me that I’m a neo-soul artist. But it’s different for me to hear my music and try to label it something. But if I had to, I would say R&B or neo-soul.” 

Music is an expression of the soul, so it can often be tricky to categorize it as either a personal journey of self-discovery or as a communal experience between other musicians and an audience. 

“I would say it’s a mix of both,” she explains. “But since this is my first project, it definitely was a self-discovery experience first and foremost. I don’t know how it will be the second time around, but this first album was me discovering my sound.”

Creating art amidst hardship

COVID-19 heavily affected the music world, not only by canceling concerts, but also by preventing musicians from gathering and making music together. Musicians of the 805, however, have been resilient, continuing to make new art when the community needs it the most. 

“It’s so interesting . . . during the pandemic is when I actually created my first album,” says C’Mone. “Before this I had no [original] music. I was really able to lockdown. I lost my job, so I had a lot of free time and was able to focus on music. But as far as live performances . . . I haven’t been able to do shows, but I do have a show coming up. That’s really exciting for me.”

Her show will take place on March 27. The concert is limited capacity due to the pandemic, but it will be livestreamed and open to everyone on Instagram @the805live. In addition, you can catch C’Mone’s music in the upcoming short film 2 Shots 1 Bullet by director Roberde Madhere.

Catch Taylor C’Mone in concert on Saturday, March 27, at 8 p.m., streamed live on Instagram @the805live. For more information on the show, visit www.facebook.com/TheDarkRoom805. For more on C’Mone, follow her on Instagram @taycmonesings.