Randy and Susan Mathews of Alexandria believe their nurturing home life opens the doors for their three children to flourish and follow their own pathways in life. Their youngest son, Taylor, recently found himself on a path that led to the bright lights of Hollywood. In November, Taylor finished a tour of 25 cities with the top 10 finalists from the hit NBC show, America’s Got Talent, and has plans to be in the recording studios of Los Angeles soon. “Since my sophomore year, I decided I really wanted to pursue music – it’s my passion,” 19-year-old Taylor says while flashing his signature wide grin.
That passion fueled Taylor’s drive to take the steps necessary to begin to make his dream a reality. “Dreams exist in the heart, not in the mind. Your heart is your driving point. Idea attachments in the mind will wither away. You have to be willing to take risks, and be willing to put yourself out there,” expounds Taylor. His creative journey has been strongly supported by his entire family. When he was among the 95,000 contestants auditioning for the America’s Got Talent show, they encouraged him. Week after week, as the thousands of contestants narrowed to 48, then 24, and then to the top 10 finalists, his family was there to cheer him on. “I felt that God had taken his hand and walked with him all along the way. A lot of the people who auditioned were already professionals. Some had record deals and contracts already. Taylor was an amateur, but he kept advancing. I thought this is just God’s will,” Susan, his mother, says with an air of wonderment. “It’s all been so amazing,” Randy, his father, agrees. His dad attended every performance in Los Angeles during the competition, becoming a star of sorts in his own right for his dedication and support of Taylor through the entire journey.
Taylor says the whole America’s Got Talent competition has brought his close-knit family even closer. “It’s brought my family together. We’ve been able to connect through the event.” From supporting him as he played in his high school band, sang in the Alexandria High School choir, to watching his performances aired on television before an estimated audience of 12 million people, Taylor’s family has backed him each step of the way. His brother, David, a Louisiana State University engineering graduate from Mamou, and his sister, Lauren, who graduates this month with a business degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, even attended the majority of his performances.
The creative energy flowing through Taylor has even sparked talents that have lain dormant in his parents for years. “Taylor brought art back into my world,” Susan, pushing a blonde lock of hair behind her ears while seated at her dining room table, says with a big smile. She recounts that during one of Taylor’s performances on America’s Got Talent one of the judges asked Taylor if he was nervous. “He said, ‘I’m shaking like a dog.’ He told us he didn’t know where that came from. So as a joke, I painted Taylor a huge blue dog on a canvas with this huge guitar behind it. I hadn’t painted since high school,” Susan admits. Recently, Susan along with Taylor and Lauren took an art class together for fun.
Susan isn’t the only family to have her artistic fire stoked by Taylor’s success. “Music has really got in my blood again. I bought a Les Paul [guitar] about six months after Taylor started playing,” Randy says with a laugh as he recalls his own experience in the entertainment realm. Randy, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Louisiana State University, during high school played the guitar and sang in a pop/rock and roll band called “Lovin I.” The band would mainly play for dances at the Catholic Youth Organization on Texas Avenue. His parents, Helen and O’Hearn Mathews, in the ‘60s, were members of the Alexandria Teen Association who volunteered to help out at the CYO functions. “My first guitar was a Fender Mustang, and I plan to get it refurbished and pass it on to Taylor,” Randy says, adding that after he graduated from Menard High School, he joined a soul band called “The Front Page News.” He sang and played the guitar and keyboard.
The band played in Detroit and all over the South. In 1974, when the band was playing five nights a week, Randy met Susan. She attended Bolton High School at the time and majored in art. The two started dating in 1975, and were married a few years later. Randy says he gave up playing in the band and started working for the Louisiana Intrastate Gas Company. He worked for the company for 24 years, and still serves as a consultant. But now he has started an audio/sound company, and has helped provide sound for Taylor’s concerts. Susan attended LSU at Alexandria, but later received her Realtor license.
Both Randy and Susan feel like all three of their children are focused, self-motivated and have “really big hearts.” Randy says they always encouraged them to participate in several activities during high school to be well-rounded. David, age 28, and his wife, Skyli, have two children, Ashton and Kayli. In high school, David excelled in baseball and basketball at Holy Savior Menard Central High School. He served as a pitcher and shortstop on the USA Junior Olympic team. Lauren, age 23, who is preparing to graduate from college with a degree in business, is also earning a teacher’s certificate as she hopes to be a kindergarten teacher. At Alexandria High School, Lauren served on the swim team and on the dance line, a team which won a national competition. Taylor, who did not get to walk with his graduating class at ASH because he was in competition, but who did sing for his Baccalaureate, lettered in music and soccer.
Besides playing in his own band, Taylor was on the praise and worship band at Christian Worship Center in Alexandria, and later led the worship service for the youth at Calvary Baptist Church. He also played soccer for a travel team in Lafayette. Taylor would listen to All-American Rejects as his dad would drive the three-hour round trip to soccer practice every day after school. “Marc Broussard really puts heart and soul into his music. It’s true music,” Taylor says, adding that he and Broussard have now become friends.
Taylor’s dad bought him his first guitar when he was in the eighth grade as an incentive to play soccer. They had an inkling that he seriously wanted to pursue music as a career when he started working on his high school senior project title “Life in the Music Industry.” Taylor wanted his band to record an album in Nashville. To help fund the project, he worked at Chick-Fil-A and later at a law firm. His teachers even sold candy for him to help fund the recording, but the fundraiser fell short. Knowing how hard Taylor had worked, Randy stepped in and enabled Taylor to record an album of original songs. While Taylor says they do not plan to release that particular album, one of his songs called “The Chase” can be heard on his website.
Music critics have likened Taylor to a young John Mayer. Taylor’s music seems to transcend generations as his fans range from the very young to a much older generation. “I would describe my music as acoustic funk/pop. I tend to like old school – like the Beatles. My music is energetic with encouraging undertones,” Taylor says. His music genre appears to be in the mellow “feel good” category that has universal appeal.
“I’ve had a huge amount of support. My fans have become like family,” says Taylor. One day, Taylor does plan to attend a music college, but for now, he is focused on his career. He may be only 19, but he has taken control of his career. He is organizing his business and writing contracts. His agent has Taylor booked for several events during the holidays, including a few concerts in Central Louisiana. Taylor is quickly becoming known as a positive role model. Posters and T-shirts with his image and slogan, “The world is a canvas, let’s paint melodies” are being displayed by his fans at his concerts. More information about his next performance can be found at www.taylormathewsmusic.com. With the support of his family, Taylor is on a path following the dictates of his heart, as evidenced by his blogging, “It’s your heart that retains the truth. Your destiny is unveiled only through it.”