By Mary Starr
Working hard and following one’s dreams pays off. Those are among the lessons that former Golden Isles resident Carlton Dawson wants to pass along.
The singer and actor left his job after five years as the music teacher at Satilla Marsh Elementary School in May 2017, as well as his position as music director at First United Methodist Church, in Brunswick.
“It was a very hard choice,” Dawson said. “I knew that I had built a great life there, and many of my lifelong best friends who I still keep in contact with are in Brunswick.”
The former teacher said he stayed as long as he did for his students, but his hopes and aspirations were taking him in a different direction. As much as he wanted, he couldn’t both teach here, and pursue a show business career in Atlanta and beyond, at the same time.
“I loved those kids so much,” he said, adding that he misses his church family as well. “Everybody knows I called them my babies.”
In fact, Dawson spent a lot of time teaching students about following their passions, and began to feel like a hypocrite for not practicing what he was preaching.
“So, I decided the best lesson I could teach them was the lesson of leading by example,” he said.
Dawson is pursuing careers in both acting and as a recording artist. Since leaving Glynn County, he’s been taking “tons” of acting classes and workshops, teaching school online and working at a gym in the Atlanta area.
“These jobs give me the flexibility to go on auditions and record in the studio (and) do live performances,” he explained.
Dawson’s film career began while he lived in Brunswick, and continues to pursue a film career.
“I took acting courses in 2017 at Savannah Actor’s Studio with William Mark McCullough — he was in “American Made” with Tom Cruise,” said Dawson. “He is an amazing teacher, and someone I am proud to call a friend (and) industry mentor now.”
Once he left the Golden Isles, Dawson’s tenacity began to pay off in a big way.
“Since I’ve moved, I signed with a talent agency, and have been case in several TV show pilots and independent films,” he said. “I just recently wrapped a TV commercial, (and) I was in Los Angeles just two weeks ago for my first ever red carpet movie premiere.”
“It was amazing seeing myself on the big screen.”
While Dawson continues to audition for acting roles, his music career is also flourishing.
According to a previously published story in The Brunswick News, it was just three years ago when Dawson, whose stage name is Tajonyx (pronounced Ta-jon, with the “y” and the “x” silent,” released his first EP, which is a recording that contains fewer songs than an LP.
A new single, the first to be available globally, was just released.
“It is called ‘Photo Cred,’ and it is my best work to date,” Dawson said. “I went to Jacksonville to record it, and my engineer and I worked extremely hard on making it a memorable piece of art.”
Dawson describes the new song as a danceable heartbreak ballad, with a lot of emotion in the lyrics, but with a beat that encourages people to move. People who want to hear the new single should search music apps for Tajonyx.
Moms and dads need not worry about the lyrics in Dawson’s music.
“I’m so excited for everyone to hear it,” he said. “… My mission is to provide quality, clean music for the youth to listen to.”
The youth are always at the forefront of Dawson’s mind. Originally from Albany, he relates to young people who feel somewhat hemmed in by their surroundings. His first piece of advice is to remind young people to believe in themselves. Knowing full well that’s a cliché kids have heard repeatedly, Dawson takes it a step further.
“The way I describe it is a little different,” he said. “When I say ‘believe in yourself,’ I mean to do so actively. What are you doing daily to accomplish your dreams.”
These days, he said, there are many more opportunities, and free resources, for young people than there were for him just a few short years ago. He encourages young people pursuing show business careers to take acting, dance and voice lessons, and to begin those lessons while young.
“If you can’t afford it, look for ways to make some spending money, and save it to pay for classes yourself,” he said. “Use your allowance money. Do what has to be done so that you can actively follow your passions daily.”
Dawson tells young people all the time that no one handed him a recording contract.
“I believe in myself,” he said. “As a result, I pay for my studio time. I write my own songs. I record them. I release them.”
Believing in yourself, he said, also means not being influenced by people who don’t have your best interests at heart, and say mean things about your gifts and talents.
“Ignore them,” Dawson stated. “Half the time, they are just jealous because you choose to believe in yourself, and they wish they did, but don’t know where to start.”
Dawson explained that he receives negative comments frequently on line, some of them from former students.
“I ignore it, and remember what my goals are,” he said. “There will always be a small group of sad people who say mean things about you. Get used to ignoring it while you’re young, and focus on the goal.”