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Conversations with Talya Groves

Today we’d like to introduce you to Talya Groves.

Hi Talya, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Growing up in Kansas City, I knew from a very young age that entertaining was my gift and purpose. That all started with dancing, and eventually, I started singing. With both interests deeply important to me, I began pursuing theater opportunities here in K.C. (starlight, the coterie). Once I was in high school, I participated on the dance team, choir, and in all of Park Hill’s musical productions. In my senior year of high school, with the help of my school’s vocal music director, I decided that if I was going to pursue entertainment as a career, then it would be best to get my musical theater degree somewhere in NYC so that I could use the safety net of school as a transition into the professional Broadway environment. I ended up doing exactly that— attending Pace University and receiving my B.F.A in Musical Theater. The week of my college graduation, I was cast in the first national tour of Motown the Musical (the same show that would eventually earn me my Broadway debut). From there, I continued to work consistently on several other Broadway (charlie & the chocolate factory, mean girls) and off-Broadway (Clueless, Becoming Nancy) shows and workshops until the pandemic hit us all in March of 2020. I waited it out as long as I could, but financially it was becoming clear that staying in NYC with no income option wasn’t a wise decision.

Luckily, I have kept in touch with some of Kansas City’s finest musicians over the years! So, I called Walter Bryant and Kent Rausch and asked them if they’d be game to play gigs in K.C. with me if I could find a way to book them since Kansas City was starting to open up. I wanted to get my foot in the door, so I could do what I love again—entertain. So, I started making cold calls to venues in Kansas City and just pitching myself. I knew that the best person to seek advice on who I should contact was the incredible Lonnie McFadden, and he was generous in pointing me to some of the correct phone numbers. One of those numbers was the manager of The Phoenix, the first venue in K.C. to offer me a weekly gig. I have completely fallen in love with being back in my hometown and getting to share music with all of this city’s great people. I’m still sometimes stunned by the fact that all of a sudden, I went from being a Broadway chorus girl to owning (and being) my own small business. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to do my own thing here in K.C. I returned to NYC last fall to join the cast of another Broadway show (Ain’t Too Proud) but found that I yearned to be back in K.C. the whole time I was there. Nowadays, you can find Talya & Her Boyfriends all around town at venues like The Phoenix, Lonnie’s Reno Club, Fountain Haus, Johnnie’s Jazz, and Stock Hill— and being booked for private or special events. I typically have Walter Bryant on the keys (who also serves as music director at Worlds of Fun— where I held my first professional performing job), Kent Rausch on drums, and either Gerald Spaits or James Albright on bass.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Being an entertainer is a challenging profession. Being my boss and doing my own thing suits me a bit more than Broadway did. In the Broadway community, I was subjecting myself daily to the opinions and judgments of others in the form of auditioning. It was a tough life to be constantly trying to navigate the balance of staying true to myself and feeling self-love when getting a job depended solely on the opinions of a small panel of people sitting across from me deciding whether or not I was a good fit for a role or a show. Through hard- work and drive, I was fortunate enough to work consistently there, but it was an emotionally exhausting lifestyle. With entertaining on my terms now, here in Kansas City, I find that there is much more freedom just to be me— and if people like it, great! I love nothing more than making people feel connected to something through music. But it’s also okay if I’m not everyone’s cup of tea because then they can choose not to come to my gigs, and then that’s that. My livelihood doesn’t depend on a small panel of people but rather on an entire city of people seeking out great live music. There’s much more humanity to leading a band and having creative control. That’s not to say that it doesn’t come with its struggles, but I find that it’s more rewarding.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I approach my gigs as if I’m a human jukebox because I sometimes do over 50 songs in one night, and it’s ALL different styles of music. I feel passionate about there being something for everyone. We’ll go from playing a jazz tune to a Britney Spears tune, to a tune by The Doors, and then some Aretha Franklin. One of the reasons that Walter Bryant (piano player) and I work so well together is because of our mutual love and knowledge of so many songs. I would also say that I am set apart from other acts by my showgirl mentality— it’s not just about the singing for me— I like to put my whole body into a song if I can, almost like a live music video or something. I want to stimulate as many of the audience’s senses as possible. So, I do that through a dynamic tapestry of music, some dancing when I can, and my outfits. I love to make a statement with what I’m wearing while I entertain, and I love to feel great about how I look— bold colors, sparkles, rhinestones, you name it!!

How can people work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?
I can be booked through my website www.TalyaGroves.com !! I love a good email exchange or phone convo! I can be found on Instagram as @missgroves_ifyourenasty (the name is a little Janet Jackson reference for those in the know)

My performance schedule is always up-to-date on my website and social media!! I love meeting new people at my gigs and would encourage anyone to come to check me out for a great time.

Contact Info:

  • Website: TalyaGroves.com
  • Instagram: @missgroves_ifyourenasty
  • Facebook: Talya Rae Groves

Image Credits
Kenny Daniel on two of them and Don Ipock on two of them

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