Taana Gardner

Taana Gardner post disco head shot with purple background.

Taana Gardner, the West End recording artist who is best known for Work That Body and Heartbeat is interviewed by DiscoMusic.com member Dayna Newman.

Taana Gardner is interview by DiscoMusic.com member Dayna Newman

The following is an interview with singer Taana Gardner kindly conducted and provided by DiscoMusic.com member, Dayna Newman.

Hi Taana, I'm going to keep this informal kind of like a rap session between girlfriends.

Taana Gardner: OK Dayna, I like that.

How does it feel knowing you're the golden child of West End Records? Your song "Heartbeat" being one of the most successful 12 inch releases in that label's history.

It feels good to hear people like you say that, but at the same time I feel I could have done more; I've done more than people realize. I feel West End stifled me and did me an injustice.

I'm sorry to hear. Can you elaborate on that?

I never received a royalty check from West End. I received $15,000. as a signing bonus now they say they owe me not one red cent. Mel Cherin promised me he would make it right and he hasn't done that!!! I hear he's ill and that hurts my heart, I thought we had a friendship that went deeper than money. We went shopping together, we were like a family, and then he turned on me. My heart is very soft. I believe in mankind. Maybe i'm too trustful.

The black artists never received their royalties, but the white ones did, Karen Young got hers. I love the way these new girls like Beyonce, Jill Scott, India, Aire etc play it... they are hip to what was happening.

OH MY~!! That's sounds downright shady. I always here about some kind of shade being thrown, my heart is with you mama. Didn't know Karen Young and you were friends?

I loved Karen. That was my baby ,she was a super talent and she was my eldest daughter's god mother. We spent a lot of time together. One time we went to this bar and played a joke on the band. Karen had polio "Bless her heart" so I went up to the band and said my friend is very sick and she has always had a dream of playing with a band. So the band said ok and I helped Karen up to the stage and of course she exaggerated her limp and acted extra crippled then she sat down in front of the piano, you know she could play the hell out of a piano.Then she said GOOD EVENING LADIES AND GENTLEMEN MY NAME IS KAREN YOUNG AND I'M ABOUT TO GIVE YOU A HOT SHOT. Girl we were falling OUT laughing off of that for days.

Album cover to the debut West End album by Taana Gardner.
Album cover to the debut West End album by Taana Gardner.

How funny, I wish I could have been there with you. I know you have been asked this a million times, but I'm going to ask it anyway, How was it working with the great Larry Levan?

Larry was a sweetie at first he was always quiet around me then one day he saw me and I had lost about 60 pounds and he said "Miss thing you look fabulous" that's when he started to talk to me.

Then when we started doing the final mix on "Heartbeat" and we started hanging out and doing things other than business related. We really connected.

Was there any place that had energy like the Paradise Garage?

NEVER!!! No place like the Garage, it chokes me up thinking about it. [Taanas Voice cracks with emotion] I have never felt anywhere else what I felt there. I feel I took it for granted, If I would have known, I would have savored it more, took more of it in.

I feel ya girl. I feel the same way about the Copa (Florida).

The COPA? Girl I love the Copa. I had some great times there.

West End Records 12 inch label scan of Hearbeat by Taana Gardner.
West End Records 12 inch label scan of Hearbeat by Taana Gardner.

Every Diva I talk to loves the Copa. They recently tore it down so I know exactly what you mean about the Garage.

Miss Taana, I know that "Work That Body" was already an instrumental track approved by Larry Levan it just needed vocals. They had another vocalist in mind, but she got sick and Kenton Nix brought you in and the rest is history. Do you know who was originally supposed to do the vocals?

I have no clue. I have always wanted to know though.

I was so exemd to be recording in the studio. It's funny because I had met the members of Crown Heights Affair in 1974 and they would say "we're gonna call you... blah blah blah." And guess who was working for me in the studio that day? Mmhumm. Crown Heights Affair. There is a god.

Then that same day Doctor Buzzard and The original Savannah Band asked Bob Blanks if I would sing on there record, I did and the record" Spooks In Space" went double platinum in Europe.

Was Corey Daye in the picture?

This was after Chez Chez la femme and Corey wasn't the chosen artist for this record.

It sounds like you had fun and enjoyed your success and knew some wonderful people.

Yes girl, I LOVED Sylvester on time he was going to go get his hair done and asked me if I wanted to go get mine done too, I said "Are you gonna pay for it " "lol" he said yes come on and after that we were joined at the hip. He was so talented and sweet. I met so many wonderful people and some that weren't so wonderful. No names will be mentioned. I'll tell you off the record though Dayna.. lol

Oh you know I love some fresh squeezed juice, "Gosssip" lol.. Girls really get along with gay men I suppose it's because you can talk to them like girlfriends but also get a male perspective and they don't try and hit on us.

Yes, I had a best friend I called him Billy who was gay I miss him so much, I'm mad at him because he was sick and didn't tell me, Kenton Nix and I were working on my new song called Flow and in between recording I would run back and forth to the hospital but then Billy's mother wouldn't let me see him and I wanted him to hear my song "FLOW" so bad. But it never happened he passed.

Taana I'm sorry sweetie, I know what it's like to lose a very close friend and it hurts a lot. I was just about to ask you if you had anything in the works as far as a new song or anything of that nature and you just answered that for me, thank you.. OK everyone be jealous very jealous.. Taana gave me a copy of Flow for my ears only. Well maybe a very close friend and let me tell you it is HOT~!!!!!!!!!!! I have listened to it about 10 times in a row already. Work it on out Miss Taana~!

We talked about some other crazy things like the girl who doo doo'ed on the floor on the flavor of love "A reality show." Also Taana and I were talking about people with talent and Jocelyn Browns name came up and Taana belted out in a perfectly pitched tone a few verses of "Somebody Else's Guy."

Girl, people know how I am. They won't be surprised. We were talking about the doo-doo incident.

OMG.. lol.. were crazy you do know that right?

Yes lol. For some reason I feel like I can trust you. But yes you do have a heads up on what I have been doing in the studio, myself and Kenton were making this record and it will be on Plum records.

You feel you can trust me because I'm honest, down to earth crazy and I like to make an interview fun. Plus I am trustworthy.

Taana, Thank you for everything, the fabulous song. Your wonderful company and for letting me inside you're your head for a hot minute.. I'll be talking to you soon.. Much love to you.

–The End

Recommended Listening & Related Taana Gardner Links

Listen to Heartbeat by Taana Gardner:

Listen to When You Touch Me:

Listen to Work That Body:

Listen to Paradise Express:

Listen to We Got to Work It Out:

 

About the author:
is a disco enthusiast and former booking agent. She is also the creator of DVA Music, has done graphic work for many old school artists, and proud member of DiscoMusic.com. A big thank you to Dayna for all her hard work and willingness to conduct and share this wonderful interview with Loleatta Holloway.