There is a sense of increasing transparency in the music community. Thanks to social media, fans get to experience glimpses of not only their favourite artists in the recording studio but also the people making music with them behind the scenes. Songwriters and producers are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
One of the writers behind all your favourite songs is 27-year-old American singer-songwriter Tayla Parx. While you may not recall listening to any songs performed by the Dallas-born artist herself, you will without a doubt have heard a song from her extensive repertoire of radio hits. Despite her relatively short career in the music industry, she is credited for writing chart-topping tunes such as ‘Love Lies’ by Khalid and Normani, ‘High Hopes’ by Panic! At the Disco and ‘Thank U, Next’ by Ariana Grande. Some of these led to her becoming the first female songwriter to have three simultaneous top 10 songs. In fact, her major contributions to Grande’s Thank U, Next also earned her a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. Even K-Pop fans might recognise her work, as she has songwriting credits for songs such as ‘Dumb Dumb’ by Red Velvet and ‘Mic Drop’ by BTS.
But after her domination of the music industry behind the scenes, she is now making a breakthrough as a solo artist. In 2019, Parx released her full-length debut album We Need To Talk, followed by her second album titled Coping Mechanisms last November. Coping Mechanisms features her song ‘Dance Alone’, which became a cool disco anthem for those isolation dance parties we’ve had to resort to at home by ourselves. The song’s music video even follows Parx grooving in her house, clad in silky pyjamas. Despite quite a solitary year we have all experienced, this song makes me feel like I am at all the parties and club nights I missed in 2020.
[Tayla Parx] hopes that by being a black bisexual woman making strides in the music industry, she can inspire other black LGBTQ musicians
I was first made aware of Tayla Parx in 2019 when I had the pleasure of watching her perform as the opening act for Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals at Alexandra Palace. Her pop-infused R&B performance immediately made me want to go find her music after the concert, so that I could hear her belt the chorus of “Mama Aint Raise No Bitch” again. A quick google search made me realise that my gravitation towards her music was a no-brainer. I soon discovered she was responsible for co-writing some of my favourite songs, including ‘Just Sayin/I Tried’ by The Internet and ‘Tints’ by the very artist she was opening for, Anderson .Paak.
Representation is everything to Tayla Parx, who strongly cares about the voices of Black and LGBTQ people. Parx herself identifies as a bisexual woman and recently got engaged to her girlfriend Shirlene Quigley. She hopes that by being a black bisexual woman making strides in the music industry, she can inspire other black LGBTQ musicians. She also uses her music to express her sexual fluidity and avoids using gendered pronouns in any of her music. Her sexuality has never leaned towards one gender at any point in life and she likes the idea that her songs could be about anybody.
Parx herself believes “that we are, as a society, becoming more aware of the people ‘behind the curtain'” and I sincerely hope that’s the case for her
In addition to tackling the intersectionality of being a black bisexual woman, music executives were also doubtful of her young age at the beginning of her career. Parx, however, saw her age as a positive. It allowed her to introduce a sense of youthfulness and innocence to her songwriting, to which her mainstream success is a clear testament.
Tayla Parx’s career is so multifaceted, spanning from singing and writing to producing music. If you didn’t already think she could do it all, Parx even started out as a child actress. She is most notably known for her role as Little Inez Stubbs in the 2007 film Hairspray, but her roles in Nickelodeon shows Victorious and True Jackson make her a real triple threat. Despite her hesitations to enter an industry dominated by white men, she later decided to devote her efforts solely to music.
Parx herself believes “that we are, as a society, becoming more aware of the people ‘behind the curtain’“ and I sincerely hope that’s the case for her. While she has accomplished so much already as a behind-the-scenes lyricist, I am hoping that 2021 sees the rise of Tayla Parx as a star in her own right.