American Songwriter Contest Winner Taylor Fagins Heads to ‘American Idol’ (and We Couldn’t Be Happier!)

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

When we wrote about aspiring songwriter Taylor Fagins last year, it both filled us with inspiration and with sadness.

Fagins’ story, as you can see HERE (and below), is filled with great swells of love and, unfortunately, of hate.

But Fagins just announced a new chapter in his musical story. Taking to social media, the big-voiced songwriter and musician told fans that he’s headed to American Idol on the show’s next season.

He wrote: “Happy New Year, y’all! Looking forward to 2022. Anything new? Oh yeah, catch me on Season 20 of American Idol, Feb. 27! @americanidol #americanidol #20thseason

To which we say: Wahooo!!! Good luck!

For those who need a refresher on Fagins story, here’s some of what we wrote this time last year:

The first great song that Taylor Fagins wrote was called “Watch Me.” At the time, he was in college and in the middle of a severe bout of depression. He was struggling with suicidal ideation; he says now that’s something he no longer struggles with but admits it’s a constant battle to keep it at bay. Through that depression, Fagins knew he didn’t want to end his life, though the impulse to do so felt as strong as it ever had. Instead, he just started crying and singing as loudly as he could. The words for “Watch Me” tumbled from his lips. 

Singing about his own death kept Fagins from going through with it and, in essence, saved his life. Today, Fagins draws from that same emotive well when he writes new work. It’s what he did on his latest single, “We Need More.” The song, which in many ways epitomizes the contemporary American social divide, brought Fagins to the attention of American Songwriter. We’re pleased to announce that Fagins is our 2020 song contest winner.

“I think, honestly, if I’m pinpointing something,” Fagins says, “it’s the outward expression of bottled-up thought. When I really think about it, a lot of times I’ve struggled and gone down into depression, I’ve had a hard time being honest with myself and where I’m coming from. If I can’t find the origin, I end up spiraling. But if I open the floodgates, if I’m going to sing, then it opens this can of worms. Once I hear it and feel it, then I can process it and maybe not feel as alone as before.”

Fagins grew up in southern California and attended the University of California at Irvine, studying drama and musical theater. He moved to New York City for its plethora of stories, diversity and myriad faces, and he now works with two different churches, writing music for one and spearheading community engagement for another.

Fagins grew up surrounded by music. His grandmother, who played the piano every night before she went to sleep, sang in the church choir. His mother played music in the car all the time; as a youngster, Fagins would borrow his mother’s albums, diving deeply into them. At age 9, Fagins announced that he wanted to do an impression at the next family reunion.

“I thought I was a good actor,” Fagins says. “So, I wanted to do an impression of Celine Dion but my mom was like, ‘That’s not an impression. That’s singing and you’re doing it really, really well.’ That’s when music hit me. Like, ‘Oh, I can sing!’”

Fagins, now 25, has been honing his velvety voice since his days in high school choir. He participated in sports growing up, including a short stint on the football team, playing left tackle. But it wasn’t until his parents split around Christmas time eight years ago that Fagins really dove into his gifts of writing and performance. As he found himself having to spend more time taking care of his younger siblings and navigating new, complicated personal emotions, each journal entry he wrote became a song.

“We’re fine now,” he says. “But then, it was a really big deal. I felt really alone. I put my emotions into my writing. And I found my voice. I knew I needed to create healing for myself through the music I was writing.”

While Fagins has sung his fair share, writing has become more and more central to his day-to-day over the years. When he’s not writing music, he’s writing musical theater or working on a television show idea he has about a healthy juice stand. His music is often rooted in something deep — death, fear, hope in the face of almost certain demise. 

Read the rest of the piece HERE.

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