Mark Shurilla has been celebrating the life and music of Buddy Holly for longer than Jayne Taylor has been alive.
That's just a part of what makes their collaboration Saturday night at the Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove so interesting.
As Shurilla and his band, The Greatest Hits, convene for their tribute to the music of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and the Winter Dance Party of 1959, Taylor -- a high school junior who has played the role of a young June Carter onstage during previous productions -- will unveil her CD, "Firecracker," which was produced by Shurilla.
"Producing Jayne's debut, 'Firecracker,' was great because I have encyclopedic knowledge of the era she draws from," Shurilla says. "She learned to sing harmony to her own songs, as Skeeter Davis did in the ‘60s.
"(Engineer) Jeff Hamilton, (fiddle player) Tommy Greywolf and the Greatest Hits (band) were a perfect fit (for this project)."
Taylor spent last week studying for final exams and Christmas shopping, but she took time out for an e-mail interview.
OnMilwaukee.com: Tell me a little about yourself. What year are you in school. What other interests do you have besides music and studying for finals?
Jayne Taylor: I'm 17 and a junior in high school. My other interests include playing the violin since the age of 5. I took tap dancing classes when I was 4 and would like to some day get back into it again. Also, I took three years of karate and would like to find some time soon to continue and get my black belt. I've taken some piano and guitar lessons which are a big plus in my songwriting.
OMC: How long have you been singing and performing?
JT: I've been singing since fourth grade in school and in church. When I was 12, DJ Lips LaBelle asked me to sing (as well as be interviewed) live on his radio show. Also, when I was 12 I started singing with some local bands. By the time I was 13, I was singing as a solo act for fundraisers and benefits throughout the state. I took about three years of singing lessons while in grade school. I won the "Waukesha Idol," junior division, when I was 12, the "Stars For Tomorrow," held at the Sharon Lynn Wilson Center, when I was 13, and the "Italian Idol" at Festa Italiana when I was 14.
OMC: Who are your favorite artists / biggest influences?
JT: My biggest influences are Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee and Connie Francis. I enjoy many genres of music from classical to modern country and pop, as well as the greats in between such as Elvis, Buddy Holly, Johnny/June Carter Cash, The Beatles, the Dave Clark 5, The Rascals, Herman's Hermits and the Bee Gees, to name a few.
OMC: How did you get hooked up with guys like Mark Shurilla, Liam Ford, etc?
JT: When I was 14, Mark Shurilla saw me singing with another band and he invited me to come and sing with his band. Last year, Mark put together a Johnny Cash Tribute show with the great rockabilly singer Liam Ford and me as June Carter Cash.
OMC: What was the production process like for this CD?
JT: We recorded the whole CD in the fall of 2008, which included rehearsal on weekends and then in the studio recording on weekends and some weekdays. The whole process was enjoyable since I was working with such a talented group of guys who all work so well together.
OMC: Are your classmates aware of your music career? If so, how do they react?
JT: My classmates are a great support in my music.
OMC: I've go to ask -- are you an "American Idol" fan?
JT: I've been watching "American Idol" since it first started in 2001. It's nice to see a variety of singers of different genres all in one show.
OMC: Do you have any other shows lined up beyond the Sunset Playhouse gig?
JT: Our next show after Sunset will be Jan. 30 at the Stephanie H. Weill Center in Sheboygan.
OMC: What are your future plans?
JT: I'm planning on going to college, but am not quite sure, as of now, what I'm going to major in.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.