If he can find the video, Jonathan Taylor Yarbrough can prove he began performing as a child.
"I was dressed in a Barney costume with my dad's acoustic that he never played, he just had it, singing 'Mickey Mouse!' at the top of my lungs," said Yarbrough, 19. "Just screaming 'Mickey Mouse!' over and over again."
That video might have gotten lost in a move, but later videos show Yarbrough singing his originals, including "Goodbyes are Bad Apologies, Apologies are Bad Farewells." The song is about a girl. "I took her to prom and then I developed feelings for her. The chorus of the song is, 'Why did we have to go so far if we weren't going anywhere at all?"
Most of his songs have to do with girls, he said. "I have a theory that if I have feelings for a girl at all, even if it's just a crush, I write a song about her."
Breakups provide many inspirations. "I'm usually like the "brokee."
Yarbrough's songs also reflect his Christianity. Describing Peace.Love.Penguins., the title song to his new EP that will be released Saturday, Yarbrough said it about "how I'm not perfect and how in the past I've kind of lost focus with my relationship with God. The pre-chorus is, 'But I'm losing focus on what I should become.' Then the chorus is, 'I'm not a superhuman. My cape was torn to shreds when you said those words. And I'm so sorry I'm not perfect and I don't claim to be."
Yarbrough performs under the name "Alive Once Again" or "AOA" as in "alive once again through Christ." He designed the tattoo on his chest that reads "Love." If you read it upside down it says "Hate." "It means that we're built to love and we're not meant to hate."
He credits his years playing trumpet in the Pride of Southaven Marching Band at Southaven Middle School and Southaven High School for furthering his interest in music. "I loved band. I love it to death. Band nerd -- I totally was."
Memphis singer/songwritier/musician Kyle Segars, who performs as Second Chances, was a big inspiration. "It was just like the stuff he wrote about -- like relationships, heartbreak, all that stuff. And then he had a few songs about God. That just spoke to me. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to sing like him. He's such an amazing musician and such an amazing Christian. That just influenced me.
"When I first heard his song, 'Moving On,' I wept. It was that beautiful to me."
He let Segars hear one of his demos. "He said, 'You have potential. You need to work on pitch. You need to work with a metronome.'"
Yarbrough began working on another demo. "It was my first one I actually recorded with better quality than my stupid laptop. And I gave him a copy. He said, 'I want to record you now. I feel like you're coming really close to meeting your potential and I want to help you.'"
Segars is producing Yarbrough's CD. The new EP contains four songs from the CD.
For now, Yarbrough performs solo at his acoustic shows. "I would try to start some bands and then they'd kind of fail. It wouldn't work out. I realized that with my solo stuff, with AOA, I can have band practice anytime as long as I have a guitar with me."
Listen Up spotlights area performers. Michael Donahue can be reached at 529-2797.
Alive Once Again -- Jon Taylor Yarbroug
At 3 p.m. Saturday at I <3 Acoustic Fest 2 at Club 549, 549 Jennings Dr. in Southaven. Tickets are $5 in advance, $8 day of the show. Call: (901) 336-2002.