A prominent Chicago singer/songwriter, Toy lends her talents to a number of bands in addition to performing solo. She released a CD with The Knolls in 1996 before forming ToyBand (which she produced, booked, and promoted) the following year.
ToyBand released its debut CD, "Ever Endeavor," on Toy's own Papaya Productions label in 1998. Now, as she goes the solo route, Toy released "Slowly But Surely" June 9th, 2002, again on the Papaya Productions label. The music's rich blend of different styles with its roots in blues, jazz, Latin, and folk reflect her unique musical makeup.
Toy began her many careers with dance, with a love for the expression of emotion to music (at age 14, she was on scholarship at Joffrey Ballet in New York City). A move to Chicago and a promising acting career resulted in winning a Chicago Joseph Jefferson award for her acting work.
Her style of story telling and weaving emotional melody lines, backed by her strong guitar playing, soon captured audiences in Chicago as she shared the stage with such notable artists as Sarah Hickman and Carrie Newcomer. She was a finalist in the Chick Singer Night Singer/Songwriter Contest.
She is a sound designer for theatre and has worked at the Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Geva Theatre, and Milwaukee Reperatory Theatre to name a few. She was nominated for Outstanding Sound Design for the 2002 Joseph Jefferson Citation and won the award in 2003 for her design of Around the World in 80 Days.
Toy believes strongly in helping others to work on their craft by teaching at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Over the years, Toy has lent her talents for such causes as Care House, The Ranch Community Services, ProsArts Studio, the Kosovo Relief Concert, the William Guy Forbeck Cancer Research Foundation, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, and the first Chicago visit of the Chalk Festival.
Toy has also supported the International Crane Foundation, in Baraboo, Wisc., by giving them a percentage of the proceeds from "Ever Endeavor." "Giving back to the community is what artistic expression is all about. I love offering my art to help someone else," she remarks.
"Its catchy tunes and diversity of music, going from pop to folk to jazz, are all accentuated by Toy's enticing vocals, which weave through jazzy phrases or stay on a sweet melodious path, dramatically putting across intriguing, rambling lyrics."
Jonas Kover, Observer Dispatch, Utica, NY
"Led by clear, strong Mary Chapin Carpenter-esque vocals...the musicians skirt the genres of straight-ahead, percussion-driven rock, blues, flamenco, and sparsely arranged, delicate folk with impressive virtuosity and style."
Don Hammontree, Press Publications, Elmhurst, IL
"Gentlemen, prepare to fall head over heels..." Tourdates.com
"spiked with exotic percussion and near classical guitar."
New City, Chicago, IL
"Nothing on this CD qualifies as anything less than delightful to listen to... Toy's voice is both clear and plaintive, soulful and strong... If the chrysalis looks this good, imagine what the butterfly will be like a few years from now."
Whitney Spurgeon III, On-Line Music
"Toy clearly understands how to write lyrics and melodies that are not only thoughtful and musically mature, but also terrifically catchy and accessible."
Logan Davis, Renegade News Service, Munster, In