By the time Taja Sevelle was 17, she had lived in the city, on a farm and in a remote forest near the Canadian border with no running water, electricity or access by car. She had studied in her own science lab, plowed fields on a farm, tapped maple trees, sung in several church choirs, and learned the Morse code. She also received a 4.0 in voice at the University of Duluth. A Minneapolis native, Taja graduated early from high school, managed a health food store, and produced radio programs including a program on food and nutrition. She was a prime time music DJ, and news reporter. During this time Taja built her recording career, singing in four jazz bands and two R&B bands. She also put her own band together, managed it, recorded a single with the group, distributed it to local stores in Minneapolis, garnered local airplay and reviews, and handled all logistics including rehearsal space, equipment, recording sessions and shows, and she funded the entire endeavor. Taja then applied to the Berklee College of Music. Her life took a twist when, in the same week that she was accepted into the Berklee College of Music, she was offered a record deal from Prince.
From Minneapolis to Hollywood, the first song Taja Sevelle had ever written, “Love is Contagious,” became a charted Billboard hit in America and Europe. Suddenly she was promoting her debut CD and rapidly becoming a well mentored songwriter for Warner/Chappell Music, writing with legends Prince, Burt Bacharach, Thom Bell and Nile Rodgers among others.
Including her own CDs, Taja has songwriting and singing credits on over 2.5 million ⁃ records sold including Prince, Johnny Mathis, Badly Drawn Boy, Arrested Development and the original soundtrack of the motion picture “Lean on Me.” Taja released her debut, self-titled CD on Paisley Park/Warner/Reprise, her second CD, Fountains Free on the same label and her third CD, Toys of Vanity, on Sony 550. She has several music videos and over 300 songs in her song catalog. Additionally, Ms. Sevelle invented a kitchen appliance. She partnered on the invention with Larry King and his wife Shawn, and she holds 3 Patents for her invention. Taja is the author of a novel titled Rain on a River, and is working on two new books, Roll This Thing Around and The Joke, the latter with a screenplay adaptation.
Taja Sevelle recorded a CD in Detroit for Sony 550 and she began to see the amount of poverty due to job loss in the city as well as the excess amount of unused land. In 2005, she founded Urban Farming™, an international 501c3 headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. The organization encourages people to grow their own food and in the first phase of the mission, the group installed hundreds of free community vegetable gardens around the world for people in need. The charity began with 3 gardens in Detroit and there are now more than 62,100 gardens in over 20 countries around the world that are a part of the Urban Farming Global Food Chain®. Taja Sevelle and the work of Urban Farming has been featured on the Ellen Degeneres Show, Good Morning America, CNN, the Montel Williams Show, NPR National, the BBC, Fox National, USA Today, The Los Angeles, The New York Times and over 30,000 other media outlets. Urban Farming™ has also garnered support from the music and film industry: including Prince, T.I., Richard Lewis and his wife, Joyce Lapinsky, Zac Brown Band, Keke Palmer, Incubus and Ed Begley Jr., among others.
Taja Sevelle studied at the University of Judaism and for 2 ½ years privately with renowned acting instructor, Howard Fine; 3 years privately with renowned choreographers Jimmy Locust and Marla Blakey; and over 15 years with top vocal instructor, Gary Catona. She speaks all over the world and has been a keynote speaker in over 85 press conferences including: the Yale Sustainable Agriculture Panel; The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Songwriters Panel in New York; the National Black Caucus Panel on Food Deserts in Washington, D.C.; The Farm Credit Council Convention in Washington, D.C.; Kellogg’s Panel in Michigan; The Race, Place and The Environment after Katrina National Symposium in New Orleans; Carvers Legacy: Food, Farming and the Future of Agriculture at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan; The MACT Conference of Michigan Treasurers; Monterey Bay Aquarium Cooking For Solutions Conference in California. Taja was appointed by the Honorable Mayor Bing to sit on the Detroit Food Policy Board in 2011. She has received several notable awards for her philanthropic work.