Shane Michael Taylor was the talk of his hometown of Waterbury. Connecticut as the city's newspaper, The Republican-American, published a feature on his budding career in country music and as a motivational speaker in their widely read Sunday edition this past weekend. In the article, Taylor discusses how he went from constant concussions to building a stellar career as a Nashville-based country music artist and songwriter.  He also shares some of his secrets to overcoming challenges.  

‘Warrior’ defies disability 

Waterbury native bucks the odds of cerebral palsy to become rising country songwriter

BY JOAN LOWNDS 
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
T
he turning point in Shane Michael Taylor’s life came when he learned to ride a horse as a sixth­grader at Hillside Equestri­an Meadows in Wolcott.

Before then, the Water­bury native, who was born with severe cerebral palsy, could not even balance sit­ting cross-legged on the floor, and was always bang­ing his head and getting con­cussions.

Waterbury native Shane Michael Taylor is an author, musi­cian, and motivational speaker despite his cerebral palsy. 

STEVEN VALENTI
 REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN 

 “I was like Humpty Dumpty on steroids,” the now 32-year-old country mu­sic songwriter wrote in a re­cent email interview that he typed with his nose due to the disease.

After participating in an after-school program at the horse farm, Taylor devel­oped not only equestrian skills, but a vision for a coun­try music career that shat­ters the stereotypes for his disability.

Taylor recently released an audio book, “Living This Rodeo: A Journey from Fan­tasy to Reality.” His music single, “Warrior Cowboy,” sung by Nashville vocalist Josh Helms, was released lo­cally and on iTunes in 2012, and will debut with a music video later this year, along with the release of Taylor’s album.

Taylor is also a motiva­tional speaker, currently on a national tour. He provided the keynote address to stu­dent leaders at the Universi­ty of New Haven’s Leadership Day event on Jan. 21. The speech was de­livered by Zachary Boetcher because Taylor’s cerebral palsy impairs his speech.

Taylor is a graduate of the university, with degrees in music business and sound recording.

“I was been blown away by the crowd’s reaction,” wrote Taylor, who now di­vides his time between West Haven and Nashville. “See­ing their emotions and hear­ing their stories when they open up to say how I helped them is the greatest feeling in the world. As an artist, songwriter and speaker, there aren’t any accolades that top ending the day knowing that I made a posi­tive impact on someone’s life.”

The key point of the mes­sage he imparts can be cap­tured in the phrase “I’ll keep hangin’ tough,” he wrote. “It pretty much sums up how I live my life. It’s actually a part of the bridge of my song ‘Livin’ This Rodeo.’ I think of my life metaphorically as a rodeo, full of ups and downs, kind of like riding a bull. No matter where we are in life, we are always going to have challenges and distractions. If we are not focused, we can be thrown off course.”

Another strategy Taylor has learned is “to adapt to the world instead of letting it adapt to me,” the 2000 Wilby High School graduate wrote. For example, he wrote, “I have been typing with my nose since I was 5 years old. When I am faced with a chal­lenge, I try to find something that works and I don’t stop until I do find it.”

When faced with the prospect of getting up from a wheelchair to ride a horse as a middle schooler, Taylor also found a way to adapt. Buck Kalinowski, the owner of Hillside Equestrian Mead­ows, helped Taylor get into a saddle on a quarter horse. Taylor sat on the horse and curled his wrist around the saddle horn because of his problems using his hands. “It worked for him, and soon he was able to walk and trot on a horse,” Kalinowski said.

The 10-week program end­ed with the farm’s annual show, in which Taylor rode a horse to the tune of “Standing Outside The Fire” by Garth Brooks. The song resonated to such a degree that Taylor had no doubt what his calling was.

“The song spoke to me. It was magical. I went from Humpty Dumpty on steroids to riding a horse with very little support in six weeks,” he wrote. “The lyrics and message of that song just hit the ‘nail on the head’ in such a way that shook my soul. It was like the hand of God came down and touched me and said, ‘Now that is what you need to do’ regarding connecting with people on a deep level through music.”

“Communicating with oth­ers has always been one of my biggest challenges, but music has leveled the playing field,” he added.

Taylor credits his mother, Helen, for teaching him de­termination.

“Not to sound cliche, but my mother was a very spe­cial and unique person,” he wrote. “She was pretty tough on me growing up and she constantly taught me that if I wanted something, I had to get it myself and that there were no ‘hand outs’ in life even if I had challenges.” Taylor’s mother died of leukemia in 2006. “Mom was a teacher before having me and she was all about helping people and putting a smile on their face.”

Both his mother and fa­ther, Robert, are from Water­bury and are Wilby graduates. Taylor wrote that his father still lives in Water­bury.

The music video for “War­rior Cowboy” also features wounded U.S. war veterans. “I felt that it was my duty to help expose the challenges of wounded vets and what they go through on a day-to-day basis,” Taylor wrote. “Al­though I was never in the military, I can empathize with their challenges as they adjust to a totally different way of life. I do think they have it harder because this is new to them, and this is the only way of life that I have ever known.”

In Nashville, Taylor collab­orates with other songwrit­ers. “I love that town,” he wrote. “The creative energy is just amazing and everyone cheers each other on. I also work with up-and-coming vo­calists as well as established ones. I was even blessed to have Tiffany lend her voice on one of my songs for an up­coming project.”

So what’s next for Taylor? “2014 is shaping up to be a big year for me,” he wrote. “In addition to adding dates to my current speaking tour, I’m pretty psyched to release my first album later this year and will be discussing ideas for another type of tour that incorporates the music in some cool ways.”


 Note: You can download a free chapter of his sought after audio book by submitting the form on the upper right of this page- where Shane explains why making one simple change can unlock a lifetime of success- just as he has done by typing with his nose.

 

 

Comments

Charlene Luce February 12, 2014 @10:25 pm

This is great..we do not give up, you had wonderful parents! But we are American's we forge on..and on to the next step!

Dan Teck February 12, 2014 @06:50 pm

So happy for the update on your ongoing success. Your life, your journey, and YOU continue to be a source of inspiration to me...and so many others. Glad that your music and your message are reaching a wider audience. Looking forward to your album's release and seeing what you have in store next. All the best to you.

Dan Teck February 12, 2014 @06:48 pm

So happy for the update on your ongoing success. Your life, your journey, and YOU continue to be a source of inspiration to me...and so many others. Glad that your music and your message are reaching a wider audience. Looking forward to your album's release and seeing what you have in store next. All the best to you.

Kelly Dickinson February 11, 2014 @08:44 pm

Shane, I enjoyed reading this article! You have been an inspiration to me, and I am looking forward to reading your book, as well as hearing your album. The "Warrior Cowboy" video is one of my favorites, and no matter how many times I watch it, I tear up. Thank you for sharing your gifts and talent! Blessings to you!

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