This is....

Taana Gardner

Taana Gardner

THE Queen Diva of West End Records !

Taana Gardner started her career in her grandmother's living room by the age of 4 and just 11 years old she was professionally on a stage for the first time as an actress in one of her own plays. But it was in 1978 things started to happen big time... More or less by accident, or pure luck, she became the voice of a major hit on West End Records called "Work that body".
The song was written and produced by Kenton Nix and together they made several Disco hits for West End, classics like "When you touch me", "No frills" and the song that actually is West End's biggest hit today, the brilliant - "Heartbeat".
Now Taana is back, stronger than ever, on the same label where everything started - West End Records. Watch out for the Queen Diva of West End Records and enjoy this interview...
'Cause this is the Taana Gardner story...

Taana Aida Gardner was born in North New Jersey in September 3'rd. I can't tell what year, since Taana says herself; "Never tell the year, haha... But I was born September 3'rd. The 3'rd of September like on "Papa was a Rolling Stone" with the Temptations." She starts singing; "It was the 3'rd of September, that day I'll always remember... That's my birthday. Hahaha!"

Young Taana Gardner When Taana was around 4 years old she already knew she wanted to perform and sing. She always used to sing and she used to tear down her great grandmother and grandmothers curtains from jumping behind them. Presenting herself like; "Ladies and Gentlemen... Taana Gardner!". Then she would jump from behind the curtains in the living room and also tear them down sometimes. She was actually banned from jumping from behind the curtains after a while. This is really a precious memory to her and as she says; "It feels just like yesterday, you know, when I was jumping from behind the curtains in my great grandmothers living room until today, it really feels like yesterday."
Her mother always used to play the piano and sing for the kids. That and Taana's first record - "Message to Michael" by Dionne Warwick - was what inspired her to want to sing. That song together with watching Tina Turner perform was what made her decide she wanted to become both a great performer as well as a singer.

By the age of 5 her grandmother, who was a professional Opera singer, started training her to sing Opera. This is one of her more hidden talents, but she's really a very good Opera singer. Another of her hidden talents is that she actually started her career in the theatre. She wrote a few plays when she was about 11 yrs old and one of them ended up being played at the Lincoln Center and they also performed it at the Apollo. So, her first time professionally on stage was actually as an actress in one of her own plays.
Of course I had to ask Taana if she still was acting or if it was just something she did back in her youth? She replied; "Well... I've been auditioning off and on for different things. I've been auditioning for some Broadway plays and things like that. I haven't had any luck getting into one and actually I haven't really had the time since I'm really tied up now, with working in the studio and my 3 children. But I plan on - once I get things situated for what the new CD is concerned. Then I'm gonna start auditioning again for some Broadway shows."
Until now she had put her career "on hold" to be a full time mom and (according to herself) she is a great mother to her 3 kids - a [in 1999] 15 years daughter called Yasmina and two sons of 2 and 1 years - Kimani [means sailor] and Kiburi [means pride].
She has always been a very private person and she has never been bragging about the fact that she's Taana Gardner. She told me this story on how she met her fiancée on a train about 7 years ago. He didn't really know she was Taana Gardner until a friend of his said to Taana, after about a year; "You look like Taana Gardner..." and Taana just said she was. To the fact should be told that her fiancée met her just after she got divorced and he knew her by her ex-husbands surname. He likes what she's doing, but he has only been to a couple of her gigs.

West End Records Her music career started more or less as a share accident, or maybe faith, as she tells me herself. The background was that the writer/producer Kenton Nix had this test pressing of this song of his, a song he called "Work that body". The record didn't even have any vocals yet when Kenny brought the record to the legendary Paradise Garage and gave it to the even more legendary Larry Levan in the DJ booth. Larry and the crowd at the club loved the record and Kenny asked Larry if he couldn't help him get the record to SalSoul Records. Larry said; "No, we're not gonna go to SalSoul this is a West End's Record, we gonna give this to West End." And since Mel Cheren, the owner and former of West End Records, was part owner of the club - Kenton got to meet him and got signed to West End.
Discoguy; So, Taana - How did you get signed to West End and became the voice of "Work that body"?
Taana tells me; "Well they [Kenny and Mel] asked me... It was share accident, you know faith... I guess. It was Thanksgivings day in 1978 and the girl that originally was supposed to sing the song, she got sick and she couldn't come. So Kenton's brother knew I sang and he worked for my father actually, he said; 'Do you think your daughter would like to do it?'. They called me up and said; 'Taana, would you like to come to the recording studio?' and I said; 'Of Course!' I jumped from the kitchen table with my Thanksgiving dinner and I ran to New York to get to the studio.
It was the very first time I ever was in a studio and while I was sitting there, it was another session coming in. They overheard me singing and they asked me would I stay and do some more backgrounds - for them! And... That happened to be Kid Creol & the Coconuts! Their name was actually... No, they had changed their name by then, they were originally Dr. Buzzards Original Savannah Band. Hahaha...
This is my very first time in a studio and I really didn't know what to do, but I used to go to the movies a lot and I used to watch that movie Sparkle."
[Movie from 1976 about 3 musically talented Harlem sisters rise to become major stars of the '50s and how their lives changed. Irene Cara had the leading role as "Sparkle".] "So I imitated everything I could remember in the movie for this day that I had in the studio. I couldn't believe it and I pulled it off. I ended up doin' the whole album with them, which they released over in Europe. And it went platinum... It was Kid Creol & the Coconuts featuring Taana Gardner. It was unbelievable! I did my first time in the studio and I actually meet THEM... It was unbelievable!"
Aural Exciters - Spooks in Space The album was also released in the US but under the name Aural Exciters and the album was called "Spooks in Space". Taana was the lead (and background) vocalist together with Christine Wiltshire (one of the girls from Patrick Adams' disco smash group - Musique with hits like "Keep on jumping" and "(Push push) In the Bush").
The Aural Exciters album is very cool and the most memorable songs are "Spooks in Space", "Meladie D'Amore and "Marathon runner". All the songs are "mixed up" to full Disco length by Tom Savarese.
"Spooks..." and "Marathon runner" was released on a 12" single in the US and "Meladie D'Amore" was released on 12" in the UK under the name Kid Creol & the Coconuts.
I guess Taana's career couldn't have started out in any better way...

"Work that body" became a huge hit and the successful collaboration between Taana and Kenton continued with other classic hits for West End Records, songs like; "No frills", "When you touch me" and the song that's now West End's biggest hit, the brilliant - "Heartbeat". This song has been sampled numerous of times and the most famous use of the song is in Ini Kamoze's "Here comes the hotstepper" which became a worldwide hit in 1994.
How does that make you feel? Knowing your record is the most popular West End recording?
"I don't know... I feel the same, you know. I'm still the exact same person myself. I remember when Mel and I were... It was my first performance at the Garage and Karen Young and I went for our sound checks and I remember Mel giving Karen this beautiful diamond necklace and it said 'Hot Shot'. And I said; 'Oh-Wow Mel, I would like one of those!' and he said; 'If you ever have a record as big as 'Hot Shot' I promise I'll get you one of these'. And... I said; 'That's not gonna be any problem for me!' and he said; 'Ok Taana, we'll see!'. Well I far have passed it, but I still feel I'm the same person. It's not any way I can explain how I feel about it. But everybody's like; 'Hey Taana you're the Queen diva of West End Records!' and I went - 'I??? And...? What does that mean, I don't understand?' Maybe when I get a little older, maybe then I'll understand it."
But that must be quite satisfying to know and it must make you feel quite nice I guess?
"Um-hm. It does. It feels great!"
"Yeah - It really should! But what do you think of sampling in general?
"I find it the greatest form of flattering actually. I find it flattering that they after all these years can go back and find something that I've done, like happening today and actually it really did a great promotion to my daughter that I'm not so old fashion. Hahaha... When a group that she's listening to is sampling her mother. Then she is like "That's my mother"! Hahaha..."
But others had sampled "Heartbeat" before, actually WestEnd "sampled", or at least re-used, "Heartbeat" themselves already back in 1984. The song was used as the base in "No sense" by D'Bora. It's a little more rap/hip-hop release with a little scratching and they hooked on to Taana's spoken intro where she says " makes no common sense" and sings "no sense" instead of "heartbeat"...
But "Heartbeat" wasn't an instant hit. Besides it's a great song, it also became a hit because of Larry Levan's love for this record. When he first played "Heartbeat" at the Garage, this song with its slow tempo and everything, was way too slow for the audience in the club and the dancefloor was left empty. But Larry didn't give up, he kept playing the tune several times a night and within a few weeks everyone was running TO the floor instead of OFF the floor when it was played. This song also became the biggest selling record ever in the little record store just around the corner from the club - Vinyl Mania. They sold over 5000 (!!!) copies of the 12"single.

Larry Levan's Classic West End Remixes - CD

When talking 'bout "Heartbeat"... In July 1999 - West End Records were back with their first album release in 20 years and it includes 9 tracks, all digitally remastered specially for this release. Of the CD's 9 songs, you'll find no less than 4 (!!!) Taana Gardner hits, including (of course) "Heartbeat" and all the others.
The album is called; Larry Levan's Classic West End Remixes (Made Famous at the Legendary Paradise Garage) and the songs are;

1. Taana Gardner "Heartbeat"
2. Ednah Holt "Serious, Sirius Space Party"
3. Taana Gardner "No Frills"
4. New York Citi Peech Boys "Don't Make Me Wait"
5. Sparque "Let's Go Dancin'"
6. Loose Joints "Is It All Over My Face"
7. Taana Gardner "Work That Body"
8. Billy Nichols "Give Your Body Up to the Music"
9. Taana Gardner "When You Touch Me"
Total running time 73:19

the Taana Gardner album Taana, I've also heard of this song called "Paradise Express" that people say it was you singing. I have been looking for it but I have never seen it myself.
"Yes it was me, but that was on the Taana Gardner album. Kenton Nix wrote and produced it and I sang it and that was for the Taana Gardner album."
Oh - Then I'll start looking for that album, I have never seen it... Actually I didn't know West End did that many albums. Because most of the West End songs were just 12" single releases.
"Yeah! That was that era when you could put out a 12" inch and it would work forever."
The song "Paradise Express", Taana told me, is actually a tribute to the legendary club - the Paradise Garage.
I finally got hold of the Taana Gardner album and it's a double album, or actually it's more like a double 12" singles release. The album contains the following tracks "When you touch me", "We got to work it out", "Just be a friend", "Paradise Express" and "Work that body". All the tracks are written by Kenton Nix and most of the tracks come in a Larry Levan remixed version.

Taana and Kenton Nix worked together again, after the West End years... In the mid 80's Kenton co-wrote and produced a song for Taana called "Over you", released on the small independent YES Records.
We kept on talking about music and songs and got into a song she did in the mid-late 80's, called "You can’t keep coming in and out of my life" released on Next Plateau. That song was one of her first own productions, Taana both wrote and co-produced it. But unfortunately she just got to do this one 12" single for the label. Taana says; "I'd say that's sad. Because I loved that song 'In and out of my life'. I actually would like to do it again. I'm crazy about that song. I mean, when it starts up..." Taana starts singing; "I should have known, from the day I first saw you, you were known... I mean that's powerful! How could it not hit the top of the charts!? Some songs have, you know, an unexpected life and some have not. I'm telling you... That's gonna be a classic. They gonna say - what happened to this one?"
Maybe someone will find it and sample it soon?
"Maybe I'll re-do it!? It is my tune, maybe I'll put it on the new CD."

In 1992 she released a 12" single called "What can I do for you" on Elegal Records. It's a remake of an old LaBelle song from 1974 which Taana used to love when she was around 14-15 years old. Taana tells me that she was actually just warming up her voice in the studio with this song, but the technician thought it sounded great and they ended up recording it. They recorded Taana's vocals and put a drum track on it and then built the song around that. Taana was very impressed that I know about this tune and she said to me; "You're good! You found out about this - I had forgot all about it myself."
In the run-out groove of the "What can I do for you" 12" single, someone has written "Dedicated to Larry Levan", who died the same year.

Taana Gardner - I'm comin' It was when I spoke to Mel Cheren about West End Records he let me know that West End was now up running again and that Taana Gardner was actually having this new single out on - West End Records. The single is called "I'm comin'" and it was released in late 1998. The single is written and produced by Kenton Nix (who is now the President of West End Records) together with Ray Reid and William Anderson. The single was remixed by Nicky Siano the day before Nicky's show at Club Vinyl in New York on September 18, 1998. During this show Taana also did a popular and memorable live performance. Taana and Nicky also played some very well-received gigs in Paris, France in October, 1998.
In November 14, 1998 "I'm comin'" was # 1 in the Billboard Hot Dance Breakouts Chart and in DMA (Dance Music Authority) issue 1/99 it's at # 5 in the DMA Top 25 Radio Mix Show Chart!
I know the "I'm comin'" single was number 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance breakouts - that's really a very good start..."
"Yes it is, it really is that. It's amazing!"
Yeah, that's terrific. Unfortunately I haven't heard it yet but I expect to get it during this week so I finally get a chance to hear it.
"Mm-hmm... You're gonna enjoy it..."
I know I will, because a friend of mine had heard it and said; 'OH WOW - this is a great tune and it will be BIG!'."
"Thanks! That's good."
I got the single just a couple of days after I got this chance to speak to Taana and I have to admit - It is GREAT! I just love it. It was really worth waiting for... All of you got to check it out right away!
Taana, Kenny and Ray are working on the forth-coming album right now. Kenton hasn't been writing any more songs for the album at this time, but Taana has written some songs herself and Ray Reid has also been writing for her. The album will be a big collaboration by this trio.

In summer 2001 Taana begun working with UK Disco-House guru - Dave Lee, probably more known under his alter ego Joey Negro. Together they released a excellent cover version of the Silver, Platinum & Gold track "I got a thing". This track was released as "Gotta thing" and credited to Foreal People feat. Taana.
In 2002 Taana and Dave got back together again for another great release on Dave's own Z Records,. This track was "Sweet magic" and released as Mistura feat. Taana Gardner.
Two great releases by two of my favorite Disco people!

I know you have written and produced some of the material for the new album yourself, so which of your works (and I don't mean songs now) do you prefer? I mean either Produce, Write, Sing..."
"Hahaha... Now that's a hard one... But... I really like producing."
OK - Do you think you have different skills in each of them? Do you think you have to have different skills as a producer or writer?
"Yes, you must! And everybody is not gifted in that way, to be able to transform from one position to the next. And... I've just been blessed with that. God, I believe it's a unique talent that God has given me."
Yes, I know. But some people seem to think it's just to go into the studio and push some buttons..."
"No no! You know, it's - it's - it's just as I think... It's just as hard, you know. It's not like they all come a side with one another, you come out without it."
Have you got any special memories in your different roles? Any special Singer, Producer or Writer memories?
A young Taana Gardner "Yeah! Mmmmm... I remember one time when doing "Heartbeat"... Kenton and I we worked on it on the footstep of his mother's house. And we came up with the ideas on everything I was going to do.
I'll never forget how I got into the studio and it was my turn to get in the booth start singing. And I always close my eyes while I'm singing and when I record a lot, and it was one instinct that I opened my eyes and I saw everybody in the booth jumping and screaming because I must have been doing something good. I didn't know what it was, I was just doing my job as far as I knew. But something came over that mic set, it just appealed with everybody and I remember peaking out and looking at anybody just dancing, jumping and singing. "You - Go girl!" I couldn't believe it - it's great, it's working! And that was the very moment in time I remember - this song's a hit!
Oh my God! And whenever that happens - I knew it then - that's when I have a hit on my hands. I noticed it happened with me with "Work that body". I don't remember that really with "Work that body", but with "When you touch me" and with "Heartbeat" and then I remembered it all over again just like it was the same day, when I was in the studio singing "I'm comin'". And for one second I opened my eyes and I looked out and Ray Reid, William Anderson and Kenton, 'cause they almost were like hanging on the glass raving "Oh my God!"."

Oh - Wow! That's terrific!
"I got a chill that very moment, the too I received with "Heartbeat" and the exact same chill with "I'm comin'"."
Yeah - I do understand, because "Heartbeat" is a brilliant song and your voice is GREAT in it.
"Thank you!"
Taana and Kenton have also made a brand new version of "Heartbeat" for the upcoming new Taana album, to be released in November 2000. Make sure to look out for it!

I, Discoguy, went on asking her; Can you name your favorite song(s) out of the ones you’ve been involved in?
Taana Gardner Taana replied; "Ooohhhh, I can't do that! Hahaha..." She thought for a little while and went on; "I can do it - 'I'm comin'. Yes it is! It's like I'm really enjoying that song and when I get on stage and sing it I get so excited that even when the track stops I'll still sing it. Hahaha..." We both started laughing and Taana continued; "And that just makes the crowd go crazy and it might look like a show thing, but I just enjoy the song so much. And if the track will stop - I'm still singing my behind off. And that's like; 'You know Taana, I think you like this song!'."
Yeah... I understand! Is there any song or songs by another singer you would have loved to sing yourself?
"Oh Yes! Of course... There's billions of them! They can't come to mind right now... Ah... There's so many of them and I'd say to myself; 'Oh wow!'... Jarvis Boyd - they did a little remake of 'Ain't nobody's business if I do' by Billie Holiday. Taana starts singing; Ain't nobody's business if I do... And I said; 'Oh, I wish I did that song'. And there's another one that this artist, I think Barbara Tucker did it. It's called 'Peace in the valley'. She starts singing again; Peace in the Valley... Oh, goodness I liked that song. Yeah! And... who else... there's another one... You know I love Billie Holliday and Patti LaBelle and I always wished I did 'Somewhere', the one Barbra Streisand re-did. Once again she let her beautiful voice get heard; Somewhere, someday... I WISH I did that song! You know that... Then of course one of my fav's is Glady's Knight."
Yeah, she's got a great voice too.
"You know that song where she said her name in the beginning... Starts singing; My friends say Glady's, Glady's girl you work too hard. But you fall in love all the time... I said; 'OH, that line!' I could have sung that line... Hahaha..."

I asked Taana if she liked Disco music during that era, or if she found it more like just a job? But Taana said she never thought of herself as a Disco singer and she told me of a program she just saw on VH1 in which they said most Disco singers didn't even think they sang Disco... They interviewed people like Chic, the Trammps and Vicki Sue Robinson and most of them never thought of themselves as "Disco acts". Taana also tells me she really would have loved to sing Vicki Sue's "Turn the beat around". On the VH1 show was also an old friend of Taana's, namely Anita Ward - the lady who sang "Ring my bell". That's another song Taana wished she did - "Ring my bell". Now she tells me a surprising story about that song. Taana said; "Everyone thinks it's me... Did you know that? They say; 'Did you do Ring my bell too?'. Oh my... I wish I did. Hahaha... (both laughing). But I have to admit; 'No, but it's a friend of mine and her name is Anita...'."
So, you know Anita Ward?
"Oh Yeah Yeah! I just ran into her for the first time in years at the BeatStock. They have something called Beat Stock here in the States where there were over 51 acts and I came on the cover of Times when I did this show. Anyway there was like over 20000 people there attending and they had over 50 acts at it. It was the first time in history that more then 50 acts was on one stage in one concert. And I was the 50'iest act and they presented; 'Gentlemen, history has been made - for the first time in history of any concert, one concert, this is the 50'iest act... and here it is - Taana Gardner'. I came up there with my belly, I was pregnant, I had my son with me and my daughter. We went up there and those people just screamed and then I did my show and next I was actually of the cover of Time. It was last year... No, the year before last... August 26'th 1997."
Have you still got contact with any other old Disco acts, except for Anita?
"I'm still friends with, ahh... You'll never believe this, Carol Douglas - "Doctor's order", "Midnight love affair"... She's a very good friend of mine... She's actually my oldest boy, Kimani's, god mother. I can get you in touch with her and... I'll give you both Carol Douglas and Anita's phone numbers."
OH - That's terrific! I'd love that - Thanks a lot!
"You're more than welcome! They would be glad to hear from you!"

We continued talking about other Disco acts and memories. I asked her - Can you tell me a little about different people and places from back in the Disco days? I would like to know more about West End Records, How it was back then... Was it like one big little happy family or?
"Or did we hate each other and wanna stub each others eyes? Hahaha... I don't know, maybe they wanted to do that to me, I don't know. 'Cause I was new and I was young and I was very optimistic, so they might have wanted to stick my eyes out. But... Karen [Young] is my daughter's god mother. She passed away..."
Unfortunately, Yes!
"She's my daughter's god mother. Karen and I, even after West End closed down, we kept our friendship and we kept doing gigs together. I would go pick her up to Pennsylvania and bring her to my home and she would stay with me for weeks at a time. As far as she's concerned... our friendship developed many years later because it was like... basically it was like a maze. You know, people was coming in and out and you never really didn't get a chance to get to know each other... and if we got together for any particular show it was so much stuff going on. Interviews and things like that, that we really didn't get to be friends. Karen and I, when everything settled down, that's when we became friends. But I always admired her because I used to listen to her on the radio to this song and I said; 'I wanna be this woman'. Even once I realized I was signed to West End I didn't realize SHE was on that label... And then when they said; 'She sang 'Hot Shot', I said; 'I don't believe it!' Hahaha (both laughing) 'Oh my God! Do you know how I adore you, I didn't have any idea...' So I always got along with Karen and... I guess get along with everybody. So I made it, but I don't know... I do know Karen liked me a lot. Also - I'm redoing 'Hot shot' for my new CD as a tribute Karen."

How about Mel Cheren?
the West End Trio - Mel, Taana and Kenton "Mel is a sweet man. He really is. He's a very, very feeling... he's just so sweet. He has got this like a considerate heart. I talk to him sometime on the phone and I'm just talking to him. I'm not talking to him to do anything particular I'm just talking in general and one day he heard my son say; 'Mummy, I want Bernie tape' or 'Mummy, can I paint today?' and that's all he had to hear it on the phone and the next time I see him he remembers that... you know, he's so considerate, he just thinks about other people. I cook for him, he cooks for me - Me and Mel we just... We're two peas in a box. And our friendship has even got much deeper with this reunion than anything! I have a deep love for him and I'm crazy about his father. I mean... Mel... You got to meet his father... then you gonna know what Mel's gonna be like in 30 years. And he's gonna be something else!"
What about Kenton Nix? Have you got something to say about him too?
"Yeah - Kenny and I we get along. I've known him for so long, you know... We're more like brother and sister. When we argue - we argue. We argue just like brother and sister. But it's like "Don't worry be happy"."

Paradise Garage logo the Paradise Garage? Anything to say about it? I know you did your first gig there...
"Yes, that was my first gig and that place... The intense there was nothing but... emotion... I mean love... I associate it with, I know it might sound like a cliché, but I'm telling you - when I got up on that stage there, some times... I would just stand there and absorb the energy 'cause I felt it was so warm. The energy was warm to me and the longer I stand there the more they would applaud me... Hahaha! I would say; 'God... You all know how to make a woman feel good up here'. There's no audience like the Garage audience. Never! There's none!"
Anything to say about Larry Levan? He remixed all your 12"s...
"Yeah, yeah! Larry, he was very sweet, very sweet, always to me."
Did he listen to you and your input to the remixes and so... or did he do his own work?
"Larry did his own thing. But he always wanted to know; 'Taana are you happy with your vocal, do you wanna redo anything?' Or he would call me in to say; 'Can you do something a little different here and a little different there?' And when we worked, we just clicked from day one."
You mention your vocals, did you sing in any special way or something? Because your voice is kind of special and it's characteristic for you...
"I never tried to copy another singer. When growing up I was always a loner so I would listen to records and play them and learn them but I never even thought that, you know, I would have... Let's say like this, I always wanted to have a distinctive voice. I used to listen to Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross. I'd listen to them and think; 'WOW, It's got to be wonderful to just have that kind of voice they have.' Anything you hear that person sing on you know it's them because their voice is so distinct and they have their own personality. I always desired that but never thought it would happen to me."
But it sure did!
"Still to this day, I'd say; "Aha - right... And you can tell me singing on anything - OK, right?" And I don't believe it, but obviously it has to be true."
Oh yes - it is!
"I never set out to do it, it's just something that God's given me that's mine."

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CLICK to hear some Taana Gardner songs...


I'm comin'

No frills

Over you

Paradise Express

We got to work it out

What can I do for you

When you touch me

Work that body

You can't keep coming in and out of my life

Goin' to a showdown
Aural Exciters

Maladie D'Amour
Aural Exciters

Marathon runner
Aural Exciters

Spooks in space
Aural Exciters

Gotta thing
Foreal People feat. Taana

CLICK to hear some related songs...

Ring my bell
Anita Ward

Good times

Le Freak

No sense

Bad girls
Donna Summer

Hot stuff
Donna Summer

Last dance
Donna Summer

MacArthur Park
Donna Summer

Here comes the hotstepper
Ini Kamoze

Hot shot
Karen Young

There's never been (no one like you)
Kenix Music

Music is my way of life
Patti LaBelle

Disco Inferno

Turn the beat around
Vicki Sue Robinson

Larry Levans Classic West End Remixes
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BUY Larry Levans Classic West End Remixes from the US Sorry - Can't buy this from Europe
Heartbeat - Taana Gardner
Serious, Sirius Space Party - Ednah Holt
No Frills - Taana Gardner
Don't Make Me Wait - New York Citi Peech Boys
Let's Go Dancin' - Sparque
Is It All Over My Face - Loose Joints
Work That Body - Taana Gardner
Give Your Body Up to the Music - Billy Nichols
When You Touch Me - Taana Gardner

the WestEnd Records 25th Anniversary Mastermix
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BUY the WestEnd Records 25th Anniversary Mastermix from the US BUY the WestEnd Records 25th Anniversary Mastermix from Europe
Disc 1:
West End 25th Anniversary Intro -Cevin Fisher
Serious Sirius Space Party - Ednah Holt
Heartbeat - Taana Gardner
Ride on the Rhythm [MAW Remix] - Mahogany
You Can’t Have Your Cake & Eat It Too - Brenda Taylor
Do it to the Music [MAW Remix] - Raw Silk
Raw Silk / Michele Loop (mix break)
Can’t You Feel It [MAW Remix] - Michele
Don’t Make Me Wait - N.Y.C. Peech Boys
Let’s Go Dancin’ [MAW Remix] - Sparque
Is it All Over my Face [MAW Remix] - Loose Joints
Loose Joints / Karen Young Loop + Intro (mix break)
Hot Shot - Karen Young
Disc 2:
When You Touch Me [MAW Re-edit] - Taana Gardner
Taana Gardner / Billy Nichols Loop (mix break)
Give Your Body Up to the Music [MAW RMX] - Billy Nichols
Kind of Life (Kind of Love) [MAW Remix] - North End
Work That Body - Taana Gardner
Just In Time - Raw Silk
Heat You Up (Melt You Down) - Shirley Lites
Keep On Dancin' (Phase II) - Forrrce
Time - Stone
All Night (I Can Do it Right) - Masters At Work

Keep on dancin - My life and the Paradise Garage
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BUY Keep on dancin - My life and the Paradise Garage from the US BUY Keep on dancin - My life and the Paradise Garage from Europe
Keep on dancin' - Mel Cheren: My life and the Paradise Garage

I went on; You have met lots of talented people during the years... Any special ones you wanna mention? Any "mentors" or something like that?
Taana replied; "Patti LaBelle! She helped my out under lot of hard times but she has seen a lot and I used to watch her struggle and I would say to her; 'My God, how did she get the strength to hang on after all these things?' I'm really a freak for Patti. Her and Queen Latifah...
They were very influential in helping me through my hard times. 'Cause I've had many hard days at one point were I had death in the family and things of that sort had happened. And it would hurt so bad and I just didn't feel like, I mean, I was just feeling very depressed. I had just lost my mother and, she was like my siamese twin - my mother. She went everywhere and did everything with me, and I was sitting home and it was around Christmas time and I was feeling quite bad. I get a phone call and a friend of mine calls me and she says;
'Taana, I just wanna let you know - I met Queen Lathifa today.' And I was like 'Yeah...? And what...?'. 'She said she wanted me to tell you that you had been very inspirational in her life.' And by me being so down to earth and always going back to North New Jersey, where she's from too. As a little girl she used to see me going to different places and asking me for autographs and stuff and I inspired her to be who she is today and that's... That's - nothing hurts me more deep that made me start cry and I can start cry about it right now. Because, it's just like I said; 'OH WOW! I did touch somebody.' I did help somebody along the way and in some time that helps through painful days to know that type of things.
To certify it I met her for the first time last year. She came to my dressing room and introduced herself and said the exact same thing to me. And I almost... I mean... I was hugging her, she was hugging me. I was crying and she was trying to figure out why I was crying, she had no idea why I was crying. Well, I sat down talking to her and she said; 'Taana, I wanna do something for you, what you want me to do?' I said; 'Rap on my next record.' Hahaha... She said; 'No problem, just get me the tapes and I'll do it!'."

That's Terrific, so she is going to rap on your new CD?
"Yes, she's going to... Yes! She's definitely is!"
Oh, that's great! Are there any people you admire or some special people you really would love to work with, that you haven't done yet?
"Who was that... I was just talking about that the other day. I don't remember who it is... But, of course I would love to be on stage and to record anything with Patti LaBelle. ANYTHING! That's my heart - I love that woman. Um-hm... Haha... Mary J. Blige - That's who I said I wanted to do something with.. And my girl Patti of course... OH!!! I know who it is - you won't believe this... Lenny Krawitz! That's who it was also. I'd say - him and me together would be such a strange combination it might work and I admire his work. I like his stuff, I really do, even the more resent stuff I really like even more."

Since my pages are mainly Disco/Funk orientated, I asked Taana if she had any favorite Disco songs? She did mention "Ring my bell" earlier, but are there some others?
Donna Summer - Bad Girls Taana replied; "Of course... I always liked... I used to sing in a band and I mean - I sang everything from Chaka Khan to Donna Summer - 'MacArthurs Park', 'Last dance', 'Hot Stuff'... OK!? 'Bad girls'... I mean, I know all these songs... If I ever was at a Donna Summer's concert I would be a definite groupie. Hahaha... (both burst out laughing again) I would be there screaming and singing with the rest of the crowd."
What kind of music do you personally prefer these days?
"Haha... I'm a very Jazz person. If you come to my home 90% of the time you're gonna hear Jazz. Of course I love Sarah Vaughan and "Ella" [Fitzgerald]. But there's a new Jazz singer and her name is Rochelle Ferell and I bought a tape with her when I came to Paris lately. Nobody have even heard of her and I play her religiously. Because she has one of the most phenomenal voices that I've ever heard. She has a voice, you would not believe her voice."

We now got into talking about the Disco era in general and to my big surprise Taana thought it was a sad time, now when she looks back on it... That was all against any imagination of mine, but she explained to me why she thought that way. She meant that so many good people got messed up. In a lot of the clubs, people was in there and they were drinking and taking drugs beyond belief and then they ended up paying for it in the long run. In result many of them - and lot of entertainers - became very drug addicted during the disco era. There are numerous of all these different singers, "One hit Sally's" Taana calls them, they just disappeared and she believes a lot of that has to do with the drugs. And it wasn't the talent - Taana know many were talented but... That was the sad part of it. BUT... the MUSIC! The music she thinks was superior!

Since Taana have been in the business for quite a while I wondered if she had a copy of every record she had involved in. Unfortunately she didn't, but now Taana and I made a deal... She told me; "If you could find "In and out of my life" - I'd get you a Taana Gardner album. Hahaha... (Both laughing) I can not find it and I don't have a copy of it."
I bet I can find it.
"No, you can't..."
I can.
"You can!? That's a deal between you and I. I'm gonna get you a Taana Gardner album..."
That's how I ended up making a deal with Taana Gardner!

OK - Taana didn't have a copy of every record she has participated on, but how many songs/records have she been involved in?
"Now that's a hard one. Do you know, I'm really... I don't know, I'm just like a home body person. I really don't get to go out and be on other person's albums and other people I know in the music business. But I did do Grand Master Flash & the Furious Five, I used to do background for them. And for Mtume, but it would be just like chance meets... I would be just in the neighborhood and I would stop in and they were like "Taana, just do something!" and I would just do a little something and go on home. But recently I really become more active with other, eh... entertainers. Because I really never... All my friends were my friends from my childhood and I kept them around me most the time and I didn't get the chance to incorporate other people in the industry. That's the sad part of my career. But I'm gonna... I'm changing that now. Going to more parties and going to more sessions and just the other day I was sitting at home and watching TV and Colonel Abrams called me. And I was more thrilled than anybody! Haha, I said; 'The Colonel, Oh my God! You Colonel, what do you want?' and he just called to talk to me. Because he had met me at a party and wanted to say Hi and I mean that really - I don't put myself on a pedestal of any sort - I'd be like, you know; 'Why me of all people?' and he said; 'Cause you're Taana Gardner and you're such a nice person'. I was just so flattered that he just called me. He even has his own record company now."

So Taana - What's you best memory during your years in the business?
Taana thinks for a little while, then she says; "Hmmmm... "When you touch me" - the first time performed on the Paradise Garage stage... I had on a Patrick Kelly mini skirt with matching shoes, my hair was gorgeous. I stood in there, and that's the night I was telling you about before - how the energy is so real. I stood behind these curtains, it was see through and they had little diamonds all over the curtains and I stood backstage. I stood back in there and those people screamed and yelled before I even opened my mouth - before the music even started. I'll never forget that night. I just stood there and I mean, I was... they had to keep starting the tape again because I was just tearing up because they were just giving me so much love."
That's a very good best memory I think! We're almost done now, but is there anything else you wanna tell me about?
Taana replies; "I have a book coming out - called "When the heartbeat stops" and it's about my life. In and out of the music industry."
OH - I'm looking forward to read it... Well, Thanks a lot for your time.
"Thank you! Thank you so much! But then... What time is it your time now?"
It's almost 8 o'clock.
"8? 8 PM?"
In the morning.
"AM - Oh... OK, so you had to get up early for me?"
I did - but it's really worth it!
"Ohhhh - Thank You! God bless you! Hahaha..."
You too... It was really a pleasure to speak to you. Thanks a lot!
"You're more than welcome!"
Bye bye!
"Bye bye!

She is really a lovely Lady - Taana Gardner. She is nice, kind and funny. We had many laughs and I had a great time speaking to her. We haven't heard much from her in many years, but now the Lady with the lovely voice is back on the music scene again and on the revived West End label where everything started in 1978. We have missed you!
Welcome back Taana, you really ARE...

the Queen Diva of West End Records !

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