#7: Pop Star Hannah Madison Taylor

What if you put all the eggs in your lifelong dream basket?

Recording Artist / Songwriter Hannah Madison Taylor (Photo by A. Gelineau)

Recording Artist / Songwriter Hannah Madison Taylor (Photo by A. Gelineau)

Hannah Madison Taylor is a star. She made her 180 last September, allowing herself to follow her dream as the performing songwriter that, deep down, she had always wanted to be. Before her 180, Hannah was writing songs for other artists, acting, and had begun working in music supervision. Everything changed when she had the opportunity to perform to a sold-out crowd at The Bluebird in Nashville.

"The show was just amazing," Hannah remembers. "It was a wake-up call—a 180 moment, where you realize that you're not fully living out your great passion in life. I truly believe things like that happen for a reason, to redirect us, remind us, give us a second chance." Hannah got back to LA, scaled back her hours with the music licensing company she was working for, and started putting in full time work on Hannah Madison Taylor—the artist.

One month later, Hannah had her first meeting with the Senior Vice President of a major record label. Rather than sign right away, she asked for more time to record her new songs and give the executives the best version of her music. The following January, a fellow songwriter introduced Hannah to a producer she had always dreamed of working with: Mikal Blue. Hannah and Mikal instantly connected as artist and producer. There was just enough time in his busy schedule to record an EP, and by June, five new songs were completed. Now, Hannah has four labels/publishers looking at signing her as she continues to build her fan base through live performances leading up to her first release.

Hannah and I met at a songwriters' hang shortly after we both moved to Los Angeles a few years ago. Since then, we have grown close as friends and mutual supporters in music and life. She recently connected me with Let's Go 180 creator Jordana Reim, and naturally, the three of us share a love of inspiring moments. Hannah recalls a breathtaking one from their recent Temescal Canyon hike: "As we started to reach the top, we heard tiny rolls of thunder and, in the far distance, we saw little flashes of lightning. A few minutes more and there we were, perched at the top of Skull Rock in two tiny crevices that looked like little seats carved out just for us … and a 360-degree view of the entire city of Los Angeles, with its empire-driven towers, neighborhoods full of houses that became homes, highways full of rushing traffic, endless ocean meeting boundless sky, rolling trees, and mountains."

"There was that moment of complete silence, stillness, peace—an inspiring and humbling realization of how intricately designed and intertwined everything and everyone truly is," Hannah recalls. "Then came the wind … that gorgeous, rushing wind with the first few drops of rain that quickly turned into an all-out downpour. Off we ran down the canyon, laughing like we were five years old. After two miles of a non-stop deluge and very nasty, muddy conditions, we reached the bottom soaking wet and covered in mud. That hike was such a gift … to catch up and deepen a friendship … to feel excited, carefree, and that almost childlike wonder of life with a heart brimming full of thankfulness."

A lifelong singer and songwriter, Hannah is passionate about using music to help others and is involved in the Recording Academy's GRAMMY in the Schools program. Her advice to anyone considering a 180 is to ask yourself that vital question: "If I don't explore this, will I always ask myself 'what if?' …" If the answer is yes, you owe it to yourself to start investigating what it would take to pursue your dream.

Visit HannahMadisonTaylor.com to download Hannah's new single "5" and connect with @ThatGirlHMT on social media!

Which basket will you put your eggs into?

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Melissa Axel

At just eight years of age, Melissa Axel was writing songs about the bittersweet journey of life, love, struggle, and inspiration—and not much has changed since. The piano-driven storyteller studied at Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music and went on to earn her master's degree in Interdisciplinary Arts on a full scholarship to Nova Southeastern University, where she created the multimedia stage production The Human Adventure. Before moving to Los Angeles, she spent six years in Denver and was twice awarded scholarships to participate in UK songwriting workshops hosted by the WOMAD Foundation (World of Music, Arts and Dance) created by Peter Gabriel. Through WOMAD, Axel has shared the stage with Gabriel collaborators Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara, N'Faly Kouyaté, and Andy White, with whom she and James Jacoby co-wrote the song "Every Place Is Home." Accompanied by Jacoby on tuba, Axel has performed everywhere from the South Florida heat to the cool of Iceland, the frenzy of New York to the peaceful Swedish seaside, the sweeping Colorado Rockies and sparkling California coast. With the support of nearly 200 backers on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, Axel raised over $7,000 in pre-orders and donations toward the independent release of her first full-length album, LOVE . HUMANITY . METAMORPHOSIS. Produced by Justin Peacock (Zero 7, Indigo Girls, Colorado Symphony), the 12-song LP represents an expansive leap forward from her pensive 5-song EP Transition. Pressed on limited edition vinyl, the record features a wealth of talent, including DeVotchKa's Tom Hagerman, Mackenzie Gault of Flobots, and string arrangements by award-winning composers Matthew Nicholl and Kailin Yong. Powerful yet subtle, comforting yet complex, this music gives voice to the diverse emotional spectrum connecting us all.