Student turned lounge singer becomes local star

The dance floor at Café Cabernet was filled to capacity with men and women fully dressed in cosmo attire waiting for Ayonna “Peaches” Taylor to perform.

“Her vocals bring out a combination of Jill Scott, India.Arie and Anita Baker,” said Stephanie Mills, a political science student from Tallahassee. “The collage of these ‘sistas’ blows you away.

Mills said Peaches has a very musical voice.

“It draws you in. Everything her voice touches causes people to stop, look and listen,” Mills said. She heard Peaches over the summer and has since been “hooked.”

Peaches, a 26-year-old criminology student from Quincy, first started publicly singing in her church choir after the 12th grade. “I wasn’t as developed then,” Taylor said.

Peaches said it is how she started performing at Café Cabernet.

Her friend Dave, whose band performs at the café as well, asked her if she wanted to go, and she said would.

As her friend was playing with his band, he invited Peaches to come on stage. “I was nervous,” she said.

But Peaches swallowed her fright and began to sing impromptu for the first time at Café Cabernet.

“That was when I knew I had to pursue my singing,” Peaches said.  

“What am I going to sing,” Peaches repeats in her head on the days of her performances. “This is the venue I focus on,” Peaches said.

After the school day ends for the pre-kindergarten class she teaches, Taylor heads home to take a nap.

After a shower and getting through the “bulk of her troubles,” which consists of finding something to wear, Peaches gets ready for her performance by listening to gospel music.

Peaches’ stereo plays New Direction’s “Peace,” Myron Butler’s “Set me Free” and Donald Lawrence’s “Restoring the Years.”

As she makes her way to Café Cabernet, Peaches listens to songs she has performed. As nervousness and butterflies flutter inside her, Peaches takes a deep breath and tells herself “there’s no turning back now.”

The warm environment of the crowd gets her hype. “She be sangin’,” said a man in the audience. Peaches said it makes her day to hear people “give her, her props.” But also, she said it is still strange to see fans every week.

Peaches’ pink hair can be followed from the bar stools onto the stage as she grabs a hold of the microphone. She opened up her set Oct. 5 with Patti Labelle’s “If Only You Knew.” She puts her own spin on Keyshia Cole’s “Love” to end her set.

Though Peaches said her sets vary in length, that being one of her shorter sets, she said she “wouldn’t trade it for anything else.” 

“She’s wonderful,” said Rohaun Stevens, a 22-year-old senior from Chicago, who double majors in psychology and economics.

Peaches, who will be performing tomorrow night at Café Cabernet, performs every other Thursday.

Currently she is working on a solo album that contains nothing but her live performances.

Her CD should be coming out in spring of next year.

Taylor said this CD gave her the opportunity to “put what she’s been through in music.” Currently the title of her album is “Through My Eyes,” but it is liable to change.