Crystal Taliefero: Hiding In The Background?… Not Hardly!

Crystal Taliafero... the world's most talented singer, musician, and all-around performer! Today’s post probably won’t make sense to anyone other than my friend Suzie and myself (…and possibly any well-connected singer or songwriter out there).

Nevertheless, I present you with…

The “Six Degrees” of Crystal Taliefero (CT):


#1 Henry Lee Summer
…lead singer in an IU party band, biggest hit “I Wish I Had A Girl”.
…he was one of the first artists CT teemed up with.
I saw Henry Lee Summer perform once with my friend Suzie at an outdoor concert in Bloomington.

Henry Lee Summer lived in the same town as (and played at many of the same gigs as)…


#2 John Mellencamp
…many of us Bloomington people still refer to him “John Cougar”.
CT has sung & performed several of his albums, as well as on most of his tours.
…I’ve seen John Cougar Mellencamp many times, and I have even been to his house!

John Mellencamp is often mentioned in the same sentence with…


#3 Bruce Springstein
…including in a quote of his own: “For me or a Bruce Springsteen to sit up in our ivory towers and make comments about racism, well, we’re not really in it, are we?” — John Mellencamp.
CT has played a key role in MANY of Bruce Springstein’s projects.
…I dug Springstein when he was “the Boss” and saw him on his “Born in the USA” tour.

Bruce Springstein was the record holder for 10 sold-out shows in one year. That is, until…


#4 Billy Joel
…performed at Madison Square Garden on April 19, 2006 and announced that it was his record-breaking 11th sold-out show of the year.
The only artist CT has performed longer with than John Mellencamp is Billy Joel.
…I saw Billy Joel in concert as part of his “River of Dreams” tour.

As far as I know, Billy Joel has absolutely NO relation to…


#5 Stacy Mitchhart
…except to say that Billy Joel has performed at the House of Blues
…and Stacy Mitchhart serves up “a shot ‘o Blues fo yo ass” as the house band at Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar in Nashville.
…Back in the day, CT started producing Billy Joel’s “live” stuff, and that has led to a whole string of other producing gigs, including Stacy Mitchhart’s latest release.
…I’ve seen Stacy Mitchhart in Nashville more times than I can count.

Stacy Mitchhart has the same scratchy vocals as…


#6 Johnny Reid
… and both are soulsy-Bluesy rockers at the core.
…Johnny just shared with us the fact that none other than Crystal Taliefero sings backup on a few tracks that will appear on his next album.
…Johnny Reid happens to be my neighbor, but he’s probably better known as a Canadian award-winning singer who’s captivating audiences of his own here in the States.


Six Degrees of Who???

What’s this all about, you ask?…

Well it seems that my days at IU (Indiana University) have led me full-circle to the one and only Crystal Taliefero.

Who is Crystal Taliefero?…

Answer: Only the biggest name in backup singers on the planet!


More About Crystal Taliefero

From the Indiana University Alumni Newsletter, her bio reads something like this:

Crystal Taliaferro, IU Soul Revue vocalist and instrumentalist performer with John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, and Billy Joel

Crystal Taliefero

I guess I can say “I knew her when…” (though she hasn’t got a clue who I am!) because I was first introduced to Crystal back in the days of Henry Lee Summer and John Cougar (okay, Mellencamp) — in 1987-88 when I was a college student at IU in Bloomington, Indiana.

My friend Suzie and I were always captivated by the charisma and energy that Crystal brought to the show. Trust me when I say, Crystal Taliefero steals the show with her soul-sista edge on background vocals. Plus, she’s one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever seen — able to play a slew of different instruments in a single concert event!

If you’ve ever been to a concert where Crystal was performing “in the background”, then you certainly got your money’s worth that night …because Crystal Taliefero only performs with THE BEST, and she always brings a whole lot more to an already great show.

Crystal Taliefero is worth her weight in gold as a studio musician, a background singer… and she’s one heck of a performer. Not to mention the fact that, these days, she also adds “producer” to her credits and she has a boatload of very accomplished singers, songwriters, and musicians as “clients”.

Here’s what her website says:

“Touring and session musician, composer and producer”


What Others Are Saying About Crystal Taliefero

Trust me, I’m not alone on this one. Here’s what others have said of Crystal Taliefero and her dynamic performances on stage:

“BTW, that Crystal Taliaferro (backup vocals, percussion, alto sax) was something else! –Ruth Pitt

“We loooove Crystal Taliaferro. She does everything – she plays maracas, sax, drums, tambourines, she sings, she dances… she’s amazing!! —Melyssa

“Crystal Taliefero’s vocals add a soulful edge to this song [Cherry Bomb], as on the other songs here. —Daniel Hamlow

“Crystal Taliefero has become a big crowd favorite, so expect some sparks to fly. —Jann Wenner

“The R&B doesn’t totally disappear [in “Paper in Fire”], as Crystal Taliefero’s scorching backing vocal attests, lifting Mellencamp’s refrain to a frenzied height. It’s one of the finest rock & roll songs he’s authored, and its blend of instruments and textures has often been imitated, but never equaled. —Thom Jurek


This Girl Really Gets Around…

Check out these other artists she’s sung backup with. Crystal Taliaferro appears on each of the following albums:


Billy Joel
My Lives
River of Dreams
Storm Front
2000 Years: The Millennium Concert
The Complete Hits Collection 1973-1997
Billy Joel Souvenir: The Ultimate…
Greatest Hits, Vols. 1, 2 & 3

Billy Joel brought in some fresh faces to join the band, including talented multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero, who would go on to become Joel’s musical director and architect of his live sound. Billy Joel Wikipedia


John Mellencamp
Words & Music: John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits
Big Daddy
The Lonesome Jubilee
Best That I Could Do (1978-1988)


Bruce Springstein
In Concert/MTV Plugged
The Collection, Vol. 2


Faith Hill

I am currently on Tour with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw [Soul to Soul Tour]. –Crystal, as posted on her website


Brooks & Dunn
Very Best of Brooks & Dunn
The Greatest Hits Collection II
Red Dirt Road


Michael McDonald
The Christmas Collection: The Best of Michael McDonald
In The Spirit: A Christmas Album


Joe Cocker
The Best of Joe Cocker


Other Artists
3 Doors Down – Seventeen Days
Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion: The Songs of Aerosmith
Al Anderson – After Hours
Deana Carter – I’m Just a Girl
Beth Nielsen Chapman – Look
Rodney Crowell – The Outsider
Michael English – Freedom
Foreigner – Jukebox Heroes: The Foreigner Anthology
John Mayall – Along for the Ride
Meat Loaf – The Very Best of Meatloaf
Jamie O’Hara – Beautiful Obsession
Mark Selby – More Storms Comin’
Henry Lee Summer – I’ve Got Everything


Lynnette Walczak

Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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