In the 12 years since her breakthrough album Tell it to My Heart skyrocketed Taylor Dayne to pop music stardom, she has parlayed her talents into acting and business ventures, garnered recognition from her peers and performed at sold-out concerts around the globe. \nBut her career has also had its share of obstacles. After leaving Arista Records in the mid-1990s, she began what would become a four-year absence from the music scene. With that period of her life behind her, Dayne, 37, is back on top.\nBorn Leslie Wunderman, the Long Island, N.Y. native was influenced by such female singers as Joni Mitchell, Pat Benatar, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle and Karen Carpenter, who Dayne credits as having, "the perfect voice ... a true inspiration." \nBefore shedding her birth name, Dayne provided vocals for several bands. Eventually, she struck out on her own and released some 12-inch records under the name "Leslee." It was while pursuing a solo career that she met music producer Ric Wake, who helped her create the pseudonym "Taylor Dayne."\n"I had records under Leslee, and I didn't want my new records to be confused with them," she said, "It was fun to start a new identity."\nWake, who works with Dayne to this day, collaborated with her on her first post-Leslee project, a fast-paced song called "Tell it to My Heart." After listening to it, Arista Records representatives quickly signed the singer to a recording contract. Dayne then began putting together Tell it to My Heart, her first album, with Wake. \nTell it to My Heart was released by the label in early 1988, and became an instant smash. The title track and the singles "Don't Rush Me," "I'll Always Love You" and "Prove Your Love" received ample radio airtime and soared up the Billboard music charts.\nBefore long, Tell it to My Heart went double platinum, selling over two million copies.\nDayne followed up her successful debut with her second album, Can't Fight Fate, which also went double platinum. Released in 1989, Can't Fight Fate contained the hits "With Every Beat of my Heart," "I'll be Your Shelter," "Heart of Stone" and "Love Will Lead You Back." Dayne's 1993 album Soul Dancing added the songs "Send me a Lover," "Say a Prayer" and "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" (a remake of the Barry White classic) to her list of successful singles. \nDayne also sang the title song on the movie soundtrack to 1994's "The Shadow."\nDespite Dayne's accomplishments during her tenure at Arista Records, her relationship with the label came to an end after the release of "The Shadow" soundtrack due to creative differences. Her greatest hits compact disc, which was released to music stores in 1995, was her last Arista release.\n"There were political decisions made within the record company that made it so we could no longer make music together," Dayne said.\nUnable to record new material, she set her sights on acting. Although she continued to give concert appearances, Dayne would not deliver new songs to her fans for four years.\n"It was never a conscious decision to leave the music business to do acting. It was a very frustrating period. Other labels were making me offers that I wasn't happy with, and I still needed to work in some capacity. So, I moved to Los Angeles, enrolled in acting classes and challenged my creativity."\nDayne made her acting debut in the 1994 movie "Love Affair" opposite Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. Beatty cast Dayne in a supporting role after seeing her perform on "The Tonight Show." \nShe then took to the stage, starring in the theatrical production "Archie and Mehitabel" at New York City's Town Hall. In 1997, Dayne appeared in the independent films "Stag" and "Fool's Paradise." She also guest starred in episodes of the television series "Night Man" and "Martial Law."\nIn 1998, ten years after her first brush with fame, Dayne returned to recording. That year, she launched her own record label, Neptune Records, in conjunction with PolyGram Entertainment and River North Records, and released her comeback CD Naked Without You. Dayne is now promoting her first live CD, which contains tracks of performances from the past six years, and is in the process of completing another album.\nShe has also breathed new life into her work as an actress. In addition to having landed a recurring role on the Showtime TV show "Rude Awakenings," Dayne is in negotiations to star in her own series.\n"It's really an avenue I want to pursue," she said. "I've always wanted to be a multimedia artist."\nWith her music and acting careers flourishing, there is still one thing that Dayne longs for -- to win a Grammy. She has received a handful of nominations during the course of her time in the spotlight, but she has never walked away with the music industry's highest honor.\n"I hope to win a Grammy soon," she said, "I'm still waiting."\nDayne offered some words of encouragement to student performers hoping to make names for themselves in the future.\n"There's no yellow brick road; it takes a lot of willfulness and tenacity. Art is something within you; it's a force inside you that can't be stopped. If you're destined for (stardom), you'll get there one way or another"