In my childhood years, my parents enjoyed Easy Listening. As an adult, I now prefer Nashville Country. However, as a teenager, I listened to Rock, particularly that of the 1970’s. One of my favorite artists at the time was James Taylor. Obviously, I was not alone. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him as #84 in their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. No wonder his music has been credited with earning forty gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards.
Along the way, he has also won five Grammy awards. These include:
■1971 — Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, "You've Got a Friend".
■1977 — Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, "Handy Man".
■1998 — Best Pop Album, "Hourglass".
■2001 — Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight".
■2003 — Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, "How's the World Treating You" with Alison Krauss.
Other significant recognitions he has received include:
■1995 — Honorary doctorate of Music from the Berklee College of Music, Boston.
■2000 — Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
■2000 — Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
■2003 — The Chapel Hill (N.C.) Museum opened a permanent exhibit dedicated to him.
■2003 — The James Taylor Bridge, Chapel Hill, North Carolina dedicated.
■2004 — George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, UCLA.
■2006 — Grammy Award-sponsored MusiCares Person of the Year.
■2009 — Honorary Doctorate of Music from Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
■2010 — Inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
James Taylor was also married to singer/songwriter Carly Simon. She also achieved great success in the music business. And like Taylor, she won multiple Grammy awards. Hers include:
■1971 — Best New Artist.
■1989 — Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television for "Let the River Run" from Working Girl (1988).
■2004— Grammy Hall of Fame Induction for "You're So Vain" (1972).
She has also received other significant honors. Among them are:
■1988 — Academy Award for Best Song, "Let the River Run" from Working Girl.
■1989 — Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, "Let the River Run" from Working Girl.
■1994 — Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In fact, she was the only artist ever to win a Grammy, an Academy, and a Golden Globe Award for her own songs. Impressive, to say the least.
Now, I am not condoning the lifestyles, beliefs, convictions, or political stances of either of these artists. Indeed, I would probably be juxtaposed to them on many such matters. What I am commending, however, is their initiative and hard work. Let me explain.
It is arguable that both Taylor and Simon were born into American royalty. James Taylor’s father was the Dean of the Medical School at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Carly Simon’s father was the co-founder of Simon and Schuster Publishing. It strikes me that it would have been fairly easy for either of them to have adopted the attitude in life that they were somehow privileged, and that they had certain entitlements due to them as a result.
Either one of them could have easily chosen to sit back and enjoy the benefits of their family’s earlier prestige and accomplishments. And thereby, they could have chosen to spend their own lives in relative anonymity, hiding behind the trappings of wealth, and satisfied to ride the proverbial coattails of their forebears.
But to their credit, each of them apparently chose not to take such a path. Rather, they each chose to recognize that they had been gifted with incredible talent, and also that with hard work and a little persistence, they could each use their respective talent to make a big difference in this world. And that is just what they did.
Now, here is the point. What about you and me? What are our respective gifts? What are our talents? How have we chosen to use them? And for whose benefit? In Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-28, Jesus gives us the parable of the talents. Each of us fits into His story somewhere. Whether we are five-talent, two-talent, or one-talent individuals, the important thing is that we recognize both the quality and quantity of our God-given gifts; and then that we put them to work for Him and His kingdom.
The other option, of course, is simply to bury those talents. But, oh what a shame that would be. Imagine a world with no Fire and Rain, no Handy Man, no Our Town, no Up on the Roof, and no You've Got a Friend. If that were the case, I assure you this would indeed be no Wonderful World, nor would we see near as much of either my or Your Smiling Face along the way. More to the point, How Sweet It Is to our Creator when we do discover that He loves to Shower the People with gifts and talents; and then when we find the ones He gave to us, and put them to use for Him and others!