Beale Street brewed. Music Row crafted. Makky Kaylor’s original top-shelf blend is an intoxicating mix of his authentic Memphis-soul-meets-Nashville-classics roots with a splash of jazz that is served up stylishly with the singer-songwriter-entertainer’s winsome southern charm. Some call it “southern soul” or “country soul.” Kaylor calls it “The Swanky South!”
An integral behind the scenes part of the music industry for most of his life, Kaylor was considered an A-list Music Row session singer for many years singing demos for numerous Hall of Fame Songwriters, including Harlan Howard, Wayland Holyfield and Randy Goodrum. During this time Kaylor also worked as a songwriter for various music publishers including those owned by Willie Nelson, Hank Cochran and Larry Gatlin with whom he recorded a duet. The smooth soulful vocal stylist was also featured on hundreds of commercial jingles for major products, including The Grand Ole Opry, Blue Diamond Almonds, Williams Sausage and many more.
Kaylor and his music have been featured on The Hallmark Channel, RFD-TV, Family Channel, Circle TV, Heartland, CMT and in motion pictures, as well as major venues including The Ryman Auditorium, Riverbend Centre in Austin, The Tennessee Theater and many other stages throughout his career.
Kaylor’s autobiography, Confessions of a Session Singer, sold worldwide. He had a principle role in a $15 million theater production at The Miracle Theater for two years in the Smokies and has had quite a few of his songs recorded by an array of other artists over the years.
Kaylor currently plays venues, theatres and events across the United States often taking his full band The Swanky South Players or playing piano and performing solo.
Kaylor albums of note include his current “LIVE From The Swanky South!” (2020), “A Little Sentimental – A Storybook Album of Nashville Classics” (2013) and “Glad Tidings” (2002) featuring a duet of his acclaimed original Christmas song “They Saw A King” with Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers.
A brand new studio album is in development and will be co-produced with renowned drummer/producer Mark Beckett (legendary producer Barry Beckett’s son) who is practically southern rhythm and blues royalty and will feature Kaylor’s inimitable signature smooth, soulfully southern songs and artistry.
At 36 in the midst of a busy career as a session singer for top songwriters and commercial jingles while also a pro songwriter on Music Row, Kaylor’s heart was diagnosed at a 20% working capacity and three times enlarged. He underwent open-heart surgery just after his 37th birthday to replace his damaged aortic valve with an experimental prosthetic valve.
With his head on his pillow in the operating room, Kaylor was armed with God’s promises written on small cards and a prayer “whether I wake in your presence or however my life looks when I wake on earth, I’m yours.”
Obviously, Kaylor awoke. His first words were to say that he and wife LeAnn were “going to have a baby girl” even though they had been married 16 years with no children. Sure enough, LeAnn was already carrying their baby girl, though they didn’t know at the time he made the announcement upon awakening after surgery.
He had two strokes headed to a meeting with the guys at Country Road TV in 2019 but God blessed once again with a miraculous recovery.
“Every day is not only a blessing to those of us who are recipients of God’s mercy and grace but also another chance to share light and love with a world in need of it,” Kaylor says enthusiastically.
“The Swanky South experience lavished upon us here in the land of cotton is not merely a thin veneer of aesthetic extravagance,” Kaylor says. “There is an exorbitant amount of refined beauty and elegance in the style, the cuisine, the literature, the landmarks and landscapes to be certain.
Kaylor says “The Swanky South” is to him more about an atmosphere of extravagant southern charm, graciousness, kindness and hospitality dwelling within the inhabitants themselves and given freely to locals and visitors.
“It’s honest. It’s soulful. It’s joyous. It’s laid back. It’s real.” Kaylor says. “The Swanky South to my way of thinking is not the least bit contrived, cliquish or ostentatious. We don’t have time for that nonsense. We’re too busy making new friends and neighbors.”
Kaylor’s 2020 album “LIVE From The Swanky South!” is as the title implies, his original soulful stylish southern brand of original songs recorded live with his illustrious band of legendary musicians called The Swanky South Players for an enthusiastic full house of fans at Puckett’s on the historic downtown Square in Columbia, TN.
The Swanky South Players featured on the “LIVE” project include legendary piano player Mark T. Jordan (Bonnie Raitt, Van Morrison, Wynonna), trumpeter Scott Ducaj (Kenny Chesney, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Delbert McClinton), upright bassist Don “DJ” Johnson (Trace Adkins, KT Oslin, Earl Thomas Conley), drummer Wesley Pryor (Mark Chestnutt, Baillie and The Boys), and guitarist Robert Arthur (Brad Paisley, Jeff Bates).
“LIVE From The Swanky South!” is a celebration of these plethora of players who have added to Kaylor s Swanky South music style and also a thank you to the many fans and friends who have kept Kaylor encouraged and inspired from Memphis to Music Row and beyond through a lifetime of music – and, especially, for his beloved “Muletown” Columbia, Tennessee, neighbors as his lifelong music career continues forward.
This copyrighted story was originally published in Country Reunion Magazine and Country Reunion News.