We share some similarities with Kevin E. Taylor, seen above with Stephanie Mills (l) and Anita Baker (r). We're both black, gay and television producers. We're both tall and obviouskly Type-A personalities. While most of our work has been behind the scenes in news and some entertainment shows, almost all of Kev's career has been in entertainment and the music industry. If you've seen almost anything on BET in the past dozen or so years, he probably had a hand in it. Watched an awards show? He may have been on the red carpet. You like 106th and Park? He helped create the show. But the event that catapulted him from the control room to your living room was on August 25, 2001.
Kevin was the lead producer on the crew that accompanied Aaliyah to the Bahamas. "Divine inspiration" made him decide at the last minute not to accompany the singer and his crewmates on their ill-fated flight. His fortune was their misfortune; Kevin has wrestled with the past and moved on. He's has published a most revealing memoir about the faith that brought him into the entertainment world, saved his life, and ultimately brought him from the control room ... onto the pulpit.
The book is called Unclutter: Cleanse Your Spirit and Claim Your Stuff, and for the obvious disclosure, you'll notice that it is one of our advertisers. (It's actually the first GBM/SGL sponsor here.) But we've known Kevin—actually, he is a television producer for BET and an ordained reverend at a New Jersey congregation, so let's call him the Rev Kev—for some time. His story is a fabulous motivation and testament to the power of faith, love and hope .. and very much needed during these troubling times, as certain ministers try to claim that being gay is not compatible with the church.
Everyone has moments of clarity. Kevin Taylor's first was in 1975, as a little boy growing up in the projects of Washington DC. He chanced upon Natalie Cole on the Mike Douglas Show. She was singing what would later become a classic: This Will Be
I was feeling her, but wasn't smitten yet. She sat on the couch and talked about her dad for a minute. Mike asked her when did she begin singing. She said, 'Probably around my junior year of college.' College? Black people didn't go to college, or at least that's what I thought. Then they began to talk about her album. 'It's called 'Inseparable.' What? I never knew that we could go to college or use big words.
Fortunately, the boy from the projects went onto college and became of master of words and images. He was hired at Black Entertainment Television as a researcher, and later rose through the ranks to become an award winning producer. This is how fate works: In 1993, almost 20 years after first seeing his idol on television, Kevin was assigned to interview Natalie Cole for the network. That began a life-long business relationship and friendship; Kevin would later research and write the discography on Natalie's 2000 autobiography, Angel on My Shoulder.
After years of producing and working behind the scenes to create compelling television and other media, now it's Kevin's time to shine. Unclutter: Cleanse Your Spirit, Claim Your Stuff is his first book. It's a how-to on empowerment, "how to be more of yourself daily," he laughs.
"Unclutter" is a metaphor for all the STUFF that we carry that slows us. I say, claim your stuff. Deal with the junk and the gunk in your soul, so you can get what's yours! Many of us become the storehouse of all that negativity and junk and pain. We save it like it is who we are. But I contend that it's not, but rather the launching pad for who you are destined to be and what you can be. You're so much more than your past.
Kevin's book offers plans and examples to unluck the power within: His section on P.O.W.E.R. refers to the Position Over Whatever Enters Your Realm. For instance, he says "I found my job at BET because one day I was on the bus and said God, I wanted to work there as we drove by. Two years later, I had a key job there. God listens. We don't talk enough."
Kevin uses life lessons of family, faith and spirituality mixed with his behind-the-scenes career. He's worked with everyone from Nancy Wilson and Anita Baker to Brandy and B2k. His television legacy is bittersweet: as mentioned earlier, many will remember him as the BET producer who was on location with Aaliyah in the Bahamas. He was booked to return on that ill-fated flight, but a last-minute chnage in planes would save his life.
I was booked on the plane with them coming back to the mainland. Before we left, a manager asked if I didn't mind taken a commercial flight, and not caring about it and knowing what privacy celebs get is taken, I just said okay.
Kevin knew Aaliyah and all of the victims, and the pain is still there. "To know that there were 3 gay men of color who died with her, just hurt deeply, " he says.
Apparently, God had other plans for him; saying 'okay' saved his life. Kevin does not look back, only forward. Kevin has worn many hats: son, brother, producer, writer and now has a new one ... minister. The super-producer is now the Rev Kev. He still produces for BET, but not full-time. Kevin was baptized at age 10 and has always had a strong spiritual side; years ago, he realized that the jet set lifestyle, screenings and premieres were not addressing it.
In '97 I stated to lose the passion for the industry. A friend who was also my EP said that I was caught up in the trappings. If I took down my celebrity pics and Honey Hall of Fame—pics of various guys of all races and such—I would realize that I wasn't happy there anymore. Took everything down, pics, frames, flowers, trappings and went to lunch. I came back and couldn't sit still for 10 minutes. She was right.
It would be five more years until Unclutter would be published. During that time, Kevin became ordained, and managed to carve a successful niche for himself: producing entertainment and gospel programs, and minister to his New Brunswick NJ congregation. The Rev Kev is a pastor in the Unity Fellowhsip Church, which is affirming and accepting. He says it is all compatible with his television and music background. "If I can preach 'How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore', people know the song from Prince or Alicia. Then I can break it down and talk about an active prayer life and talking to God all of the time, not just when you're in trouble. Then they get it." Kevin's taking his book and life's lessons to heart: he's in the process of developing a talk show with one of the cable networks, so you may see him on a small screen near you. But this time, the veteran producer would be in front of the cameras. "Ask and ye shall receive. If you build it, they will come."Unclutter: Cleanse Your Spirit, Claim Your Stuff (Sample Chapters and Order Info) Make Your Name Mean Something (Rev Kev's Weblog)