Lakewood Ranch, Fl—Attendees of Saturday’s Farmer’s Market on Main Street were in for a real surprise when they made their way down the line of vendors. Right in the middle of it all was a dynamic duo of singer-songwriters, Jay Taylor and Mandy McMillan. Taylor appeared on The Voice where he gained national recognition, and when he came to little LWR, we couldn’t help but wonder what brought him here. It turns out, his parents are “the egg people.” At least that’s what he first told us—his parents are actually Leonard and Arlene Horak, the couple who sells farm-raised eggs at the monthly market. LWR Lifestyle sat down with the two to get the inside scoop on what brought them to our small gathering on Main.
What brought you two all the way from Nashville to Florida?
M: We initially headed down to Naples FL to meet up with my manager for a few days. Jay had grown up in FL so we decided to stay a few extra days and book shows in and around Tampa which brought us to the market.
How long have you both been pursuing careers in music?
J: For me it was about ten years ago when I won a singing competition, Florida Super Singer. I always had a love for music but the competition was the extra boost to make me want to pursue it as a career.
M: I have been singing and songwriting since I was a little girl. After winning a few singing competitions back home in Canada, and a trip to Nashville, I decided that the music industry was where my heart wanted to be.
Tell me about your albums and what inspired them.
M: We both have solo albums and pursue music separately but love to jump on stage together and perform as much as we can. We don’t have an album together yet but we have written and recorded a few songs together so a duo extended play (EP) may be in the future.
J: My EP is an accumulation of my favorite songs that I’ve written over the past few years. I’m very influenced by classic country sounds like George Strait but also have alternative inspirations such as Indy and blues, so my album showcases this unique diversity while keeping it country. In the first week, my EP broke into the top 40 on the Amazon Singer/songwriter downloads.
M: I put out a five song EP to showcase my songwriting ability. The EP has a spot for everyone whether they’re looking for a love ballad or a song to turn up and drive down a back road.
What was your favorite part of performing at the farmer’s market?
M: It was such an amazing time! We were able to be up close and put on a personal performance for everyone at the market. We met some amazing people and got to experience a bit of culture.
J: It’s fun to perform in front of big crowds but it’s also great to have personal experiences with our music… It keeps us well rounded as performers.
Do you have any connections to the town?
J: My parents Leonard and Arlene Horak own Circle 6 Farms and sell eggs at the market. It’s great to play the markets and be able to spend time with my family.
M: [Other than that] we don’t have a direct connection to the town but we were able to purchase some souvenirs from the Farmer’s Market and the Organic Health Store on the corner to bring home, so that’s our little connection to the town now.
What inspired you to pursue music?
J: We have both loved music ever since we were little. I had an influence from my mom playing piano and singing in church. My grandfather Arlin Taylor was a member of a gospel quartet when I was younger so music has been in my blood since the beginning.
M: I started off singing with my two younger sisters at Christmas concerts and rodeos when I was younger. I grew up listening to Shania Twain and The Dixie Chicks which inspired me to put on home concerts for friends and family.
For more information on Jay Taylor check out his site and listen to his album, Hold On, on Amazon Music. For more information on Mandy McMillan check out her site and listen to her original songs on Amazon Music.