"The first thing I ever stole was an Otis Redding LP from my friend’s house," says singer/songwriter and 2006 American Idol, Taylor Hicks. "I think I was in third grade."
And though he was born years after the heyday of the great soul and blues performers, Hicks spent his childhood immersed in a steady stream of music by artists such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and Van Morrison. At 16, he bought a $2 harmonica from a flea market in Bessemer, AL and spent most of his time practicing while other kids were more concerned with driving cars.
Today, Hicks’ own brand of soul-and-blue-influenced music reflects the same sort of raw emotion and sensibilities so apparent in the songs he grew up on: pain, loss, love and the confusion inherent in them all.
He says his passionate writing and singing style is just a natural progression of a life that has been a little different than those of his peers. "Some people grew up in close-knit families," he explains. "They could identify with the sugar-coated, new-wave music that was popular in the ’80s and even now. My home life wasn’t very supportive or comfortable - with divorce (among other misfortunes). I had to make life-changing choices at an early age. And the whole time, I was listening to soul music—music where you can actually hear a man’s heart break. So it just really made sense to me—even at such a young age."
Hicks said he found the comfort he was looking for on stage. "I just made it my home. It’s where my heart is." And watching his intensity on stage, it’s apparent that he holds nothing back. Even the slowest songs are sung with such energy, sweat and grit it would make his predecessors proud. The addition of his growling harmonica style is explosive at least.
On his debut album, In Your Time, Hicks demonstrates that, although he has a reverence for those artists he learned from, he’s far from a stuck-in-the-past purist. The title track, written by Hicks, from this live CD could be identified as modern soul music, but it is tinged with swinging horns and jazzy guitar licks. The acoustic ballad “The Fall” brings the listener along on Hicks’ sentimental thoughts of a relationship on its last leg. He leaves behind the bigger band sound, opting for sparse accompaniment that drives home the nakedness of emotion in the song. The recording also features classics including "Georgia" and the Archie Bell & the Drells song "Tighten Up."
Backed by several bands and such musicians as Nashville veteran Billy Earl McClelland, Hicks has entertained audiences at festivals, clubs and fraternities while sharing the bill with some of his idols such as Percy Sledge along the way. (taylorhicks.com 2006, edited)
The Hoover, Alabama, native, born October 7, 1976, first stepped onto the entertainment stage at Corey’s Sports Bar in Birmingham. The audience numbered only a few more than his age. It was just the beginning of a long-running love affair with music and the stage for the 15-year-old blues singer.
Early on, Hicks learned to "just be me."
"I hired a sideman when I was 17 years old. A guitar player named Billy Earl McClelland who was Delbert (Mc)Clinton’s old guitar player. We worked together when I was at Auburn, he told me that I was a natural entertainer and I shouldn’t worry about putting on a show. I should just be the person I was and that was entertainment enough. I had never thought about it that way until he told me that. I was able to loosen up and just be me."
Billy Earl McClelland was in his mid-40’s when he worked with Hicks way back in those early Auburn days. Hicks’old mentor joined him on stage in Birmingham, 2009, in a show-stopping duet of "Dust My Broom."
Hicks first tasted success during his days at Auburn University when he was joined by David Schrimcher, Patrick Lunceford, Philip McGowan, Steven Jackson and Michael Douglas and formed "Passing Through" a pretty decent jam band playing gigs on college campuses throughout the South and at clubs along the Gulf Coast.
When Passing Through members went separate ways, Hicks formed a short-lived Fletch Lives band, including Quinn Borland and eight to ten members with only about an eight-song repertoire. The Florabama Club on the Gulf Coast, where Hicks says he cut his musical teeth, was a favorite gig for Fletch Lives.
For his own questionable reasons, Hicks became a college dropout in 1997. He was at a turning point and, as it always would, music guided his decision. From his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul:
"For a million probably lousy reasons, I just couldn’t take even another moment to do the right thing. As I saw it, the time had finally come to try to do the only thing I ever wanted to do."
Hicks left college and committed to his music and to entertaining as his life’s work. With band members Jon Cook on lead guitar and vocal, Jay Knorr, drums and vocal, Ian Correy, bass, Eddie Ayers, percussion, Brandon Kidd, alto sax, and Wade Johnson, trombone, Hicks released his first independent CD, In Your Time, recorded live to save on production costs. He was 19 years old. The fledging entertainer and his band hit the road to promote the new CD. On the not-so-glamorous "chitlin’ circuit" through the South, Hicks learned much about performing before a live audience and building a show. What he took away, he still lives by--
"Either you entertain people, or you go home."
In 2000, Hicks took his dreams to Nashville. He realized quickly that he was not the next Johnny Cash. He describes his year in Music City as one of the darkest and loneliest in his life. He knocked on every door but could not score a gig for him and his band, The EZ Widerz. He did, however, write some of his best music, and many of the songs would later appear in his second independent CD, Under the Radar. After a year of frustration and rejection, Hicks returned to Birmingham and reconnected with his own kind of blues and soul music.
Undeterred in following the only dream he had ever had, Hicks and his own Taylor Hicks Band played wherever an audience would gather from the local VFW to opening for some top A-listers performing in the South. He shared the stage with entertainment greats like James Brown, Percy Sledge, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne and Keb Mo.
"I’m a working musician. That’s how I make my living."
Hicks went back to the studio in 2005 with a few borrowed dollars from his family and recorded his second independent album, Under the Radar. It showcased exclusively the early works of the struggling musician. He was backed by his own Taylor Hicks Band, a talented group of musicians, some of whom had been with him at Auburn: Jon Cook on guitars; Wynn Christian, electric guitars; Patrick Lunceford, drums; Mitch Jones, bass; Jay Smith, percussions; and Brian Less, Piano and B3 organ.
Life on the road was taking its toll. In "Soul Thing," one of the tracks from Under the Radar, Hicks knowingly wrote,
"The road can be your friend, or the devil in disguise," and a place to get lost. He had been there and experienced the pitfalls. "We all get lost sometimes—that’s part of being on a journey and being human...For me, the real measure of a man isn’t whether he gets lost, but whether he can still manage to find his way back somehow."
The road back took him to New Orleans and face to face with opportunity in the wake of disaster.
A New Journey
In a twist of fate that would reshape his life, Taylor Hicks was in New Orleans for a friend’s wedding on the weekend in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina struck with devastating fury. In the early Sunday morning hours, he managed to take a taxi out of the imperiled city. From the airlines that cancelled his flight out of New Orleans, he received a voucher that became his ticket to American Idol tryouts in Las Vegas and to a new life in the bright lights of stardom.
Originally encouraged by his brother, Sean, to audition for American Idol in Memphis, Hicks missed this opportunity when tryouts were cancelled because of Katrina relief efforts. He had never been to Las Vegas and tryouts there were still scheduled. The American Idol competition would measure his resolve to never walk away, even in the long audition lines outside the huge convention center in Las Vegas.
Hicks recounted three years later his encounter that shaped that resolve:
"I remember standing outside in Las Vegas at American Idol [auditions], and kids were coming up to me asking me where my kid was that was auditioning. If that doesn't make you want to walk away, I don't know what does. But I never walked away. I knew I had a vision, and that was to entertain people—and here I am."
At age 13, his hair had begun to turn prematurely gray. He did not fit the image of the young, pop music hopefuls.
On May 24, 2006, in the most-watched TV show of the DECADE, Taylor Hicks became the unlikely winner of American Idol Season 5 with over 63.4 million votes--more votes than the President had received in the last election. He was one of only three winning Idols who had never placed in the bottom two or three. Kelly Clarkston and Carrie Underwood share that distinction. When Idol judge, Simon Cowell asked in auditions why he wanted to be American Idol, Hicks said, "I want my voice heard." Cowell insisted, "Why?" "Because I think I have one," Hicks proclaimed.
Life in the spotlight as 2006 American Idol began with a non-stop media blitz and sharing the stage with stars like Willie Nelson, Widespread Panic, and Snoop Dog. He appeared on every early morning news show and twice visited with Jay Leno on the late night talk show. His first major concert appearance was at the huge Stadium of Fire Fourth of July Celebration in Salt Lake City Utah, July 1, 2006.
After signing a recording contract with Arista Records, his American Idol single, "Do I Make You Proud" and the Michael McDonald classic, blue-eyed soul number, "Takin’ it to the Streets" hit the streets. The front side debuted at No. 1 and stayed there for nine weeks. "Do I Make You Proud" quickly sold gold and was the No. 1 selling single in 2006. It has become a modern classic for memorable occasions like graduations. Hicks began a tradition of dedicating this song to the American troops.
As headliner for the American Idol Summer Tour that was launched on July 5, 2006, Hicks and Idol finalists boarded their busses and crisscrossed the country from New England to the West Coast and were welcomed by record-setting crowds. It was the most successful American Idol tour ever, or since, grossing over $35.2 million and averaging 96% capacity. (Syracuse.com)
At the time of Season Five, American Idol did not allow competitors to play instruments on the show. On the Idol tour, however, Hicks played harmonica and guitar for every scheduled concert, and he never missed a performance on the killer schedule. Hicks also performed in a "shadow tour" meeting up with his former band mates, the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra. After the Idol concert, at historic clubs like Smith’s Bar in Atlanta, he and the band jammed into the early morning hours. He said that it kept him grounded.
Modern Whomp Sent Spinning
With the Idol tour completed, Hicks entered the recording studio for his post-Idol album that was released December 12, 2006. The self-titled release debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 charts. With his own descriptive genre tag of "modern whomp," the album "Taylor Hicks" was certified platinum by RIAA a month later. "Just to Feel That Way" was the first single released to radio, and "Heaven Knows" hit radio play in May, 2008.
With "Taylor Hicks" on the music shelves, the next stop for Hicks was his own Modern Whomp Solo Tour that kicked off in Jacksonville, Florida, on February 21, 2007. He was back on the road, and at home in his luxurious tour bus that took him to more than 50 cities for 55 concerts in many sold-out venues from February to May. Touring with him was Music Director and keyboardist, Loren Gold, backup singer Melanie Nyema, and an outstanding band playing a unique blend of modern blues, soul and rock in historic theatres and modern clubs and venues.
During the successful and exhausting 2007 tour, the May 9 show at the historic Warfield Theatre in San Francisco was professionally captured in its entirety and became the first live concert DVD for the touring musician. "Whomp at the Warfield" released in January, 2010, caught the high-energy, show-stopping talent of Hicks and the Tour Band. It included a bonus interview in which Hicks talks about his music, "modern whomp," and life on the road, and a special performance of “Son of a Carpenter,” not performed on tour. “Whomp” showcases the high-energy stage persona of this American Idol taking it beyond the singing competition that first gave him a national voice but did not tell the whole story of his musicianship and entertainment prowess.
The new life wasn’t all about music. In collaboration with David Wild, renowned Rolling Stone writer, Hicks took time to write his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, "an Inspirational Memoir about Finding Your Voice and Finding Your Way." Published by Random House, it hit bookshelves in July, 2007. It told the story of a child finding solace in music, and a young man struggling to find his way in the difficult, and sometimes dark, world of a struggling musician on the road looking for that one elusive break—the elusive break which finally came, looking like fate and named Katrina.
In the summer of 2007, Hicks re-released his original album, In Your Time, which enjoyed new popularity with fans on the concert circuit. Copies of the original In Your Time release are rarely available and highly sought after by music collectors.
A Summer Tour of festivals and special events lasted into November, 2007, with a final concert at Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia, Mississippi. From Jacksonville, Florida, in February to Pearl River in November, Hicks appeared in 111 concerts in 98 different cities. The Hicks fanbase, fondly dubbed the Soul Patrol, turned out in mass, in their local towns and crisscrossing the country to see their Idol. Reviews of his live performances consistently praised the intensity and energy on stage with every "always-on" performance passionately and uniquely Hicks. He was credited with setting a new standard for touring entertainers: Give it all you’ve got; never phone it in! It paid off on the bottom line as his Modern Whomp Solo Tour was the 27th highest grossing tour of 2007.
Modern Whomp music went global when Hicks launched an Asian tour in the Philippines in December, 2007. He appeared as a special guest performer on Asian Idol and entertained thousands of enthusiastic fans in Manila.
While the new year brought platinum certification for his CD, Taylor Hicks, special recognition came back home for the native son who emotionally sings, "My home’s in Alabama." The Alabama Music Hall of Fame recognized Hicks with its America’s Music Award at its 2008 Annual Music Hall of Fame Induction Gala in February. The Alabama music community annually recognizes the rich musical heritage of its musicians, songwriters and music industry achievers. With this award, Hicks was given an exhibit in the Music Hall of Fame Museum in Tuscumera, Alabama. A brick was placed on the I Believe in Music Walkway at the Museum, a gift from fans and The Soul Connection, the professionally published Taylor Hicks online e’zine.
Birmingham to Broadway
In summer, 2008, Taylor Hicks celebrated another milestone on a different stage—the Broadway stage. On June 6, he debuted on The Great White Way starring as Teen Angel in the revival production of "Grease." In an Elvis-style pompadour and a rhinestone-encrusted midnight blue suit reminiscent of the 1950s’ flashy designs by Nudie Cohn, Hicks brought a new blues-inspired Teen Angel to Broadway. He said that he was channeling a little Elvis as he sang a soulful "Beauty School Dropout" to Frenchy. "We’re packing the place out. It’s sold out every night, and I get to play a little harmonica, which is cool."
In August, Hicks revisited the roots music from years before and launched his own recording label with the release of Early Works, the first offering on his own Modern Whomp Records label. Early Works compiled remastered tracks from his two previous independent releases, In Your Time and Under the Radar. In Your Time, featured Hicks originals—"Son of a Carpenter," "The Fall," "In Your Time," and "Somehow." He covered two classic tunes, "Tighten Up" and "Georgia."
Under The Radar was exclusively the works of Hicks. Early Works includes his most often performed song and what he has called his personal mantra, "Soul Thing," about life on the road and getting by. Other tracks are lyrical messages about love and friends: "The Deal," "Hold on to Your Love," "Heart and Soul"” (originally entitled Blues and Soul), "West Texas Sky" and "My Friend."
"...these two albums represent who I am and who I am trying to represent as a songwriter." [They were] "songs that were hitting home with me at the time. ...the songwriting was getting better and my direction as an artist was getting clearer," Hicks wrote in the liner notes for Early Works.
After closing a very successful Broadway run in "Grease" on September 7, Hicks returned to the recording studio to work on a new album. He collaborated with some highly acclaimed musicians, including Nashville songwriters, Tom Hambridge and Gary Nicholson. He describes this work as
"...some of the best music I’ve ever written, and from an artistic standpoint, this album, being in my control has allowed me to really breathe as a songwriter. ...As an artist, you kind of understand the times and what your surroundings are and write from them. So there’s some political undertones on the album. It’s a serious time for us."
Before closing on Broadway in "Grease," Taylor Hicks announced a cutting edge deal where he would join the Broadway Across America National Tour of “Grease” continuing the signature role of Teen Angel. He would also perform a song from his album at the end of the stage show. "Grease," with Hicks performing "Beauty School Dropout" in the show-stopping cameo appearance, opened in Providence, RI on December 2, 2008, for an 18-month swing around the country.
In the recording studio of renowned producer, Simon Climie, in France, the final production was completed on Hicks’ third post-Idol album. The Distance was released on his own recording label, Modern Whomp Records, March 10, 2009, as Hicks toured the West Coast in "Grease." Again, Hicks had put together an outstanding group of musicians including Paul McCartney’s drummer, Abe Laborial, Jr., Eric Clapton’s bass man, Nathan East, and Grammy nominated guitarist, Doyle Bramhill, bringing a swamp rock sound.
The Distance captured an eclectic mix of soul, pop, and country rock. The first single released in January, 2009, "What’s Right if Right," was a soulful jazz sound and lyrics vowing lasting love. In his first music video, Hicks walked the snowy streets of Chicago stopping in a retro fitted diner to sing "What’s Right is Right" in the slick, iconic film produced by highly acclaimed New York videographer, Jake Davis.
The second release from The Distance, "Seven Mile Breakdown," infused delta blues vibes with country overlay that rocked with undeniable Southern roots. Oregon filmmaker, Spence Nicholson, produced the music video in which Hicks jumped into the sporty classic red and white Steinray convertible and cruised the California hills for a raucous "Seven Mile Breakdown." It took the music video charts by storm at AOL and MuVids and stayed on top for months.
“Seven Mile Breakdown” brought an invitation back to the American Idol stage in 2010 where Hicks brought a new Idol persona with swagger, guitar, and harmonica in hand. A show-stopping performance brought a standing ovation from a new Idol audience and all the judges, including the reluctant, Simon Cowell. Hicks acknowledged the standing Cowell with a broad smile and commented to Ryan Seacrest after the bow:
"Look…the standing O."
Hicks continued the national tour with "Grease" including a show in Ottawa, Canada, where Prime Minister Steven Harper and his young daughter attended the show and met with the Teen Angel afterwards. The tour also stopped in Washington, D.C. at the historic National Theatre just down the street from the White House. Hicks and entourage of friends and "Grease" cast mates made a Sunday morning tour of the Nation’s House as the city was blanketed in one of the worst snow storms of the century.
Besides playing Teen Angel and singing an encore on the "Grease" stage, Hicks brought The Distance music to his own after-show Shadow Concerts in many cities. He introduced a well-received acoustic concert at High Noon Tavern in Madison, Wisconsin, in December, 2009. His music stood the test of bare bones, stripped away production in the “unplugged” tradition. Acoustic performances, which previously were mostly limited to the encore, became a well-attended concert experience.
The "Grease"” tour traveled to almost 50 cities for almost 500 shows in its 18 months on the road. Hicks became the face of "Grease" meeting with local media and promoting Broadway theatre as the "road show" played to many sold out houses in an uncertain economy. Hicks also "hand delivered" copies of The Distance after every show signing the album and posing with theatre goers for pictures. His take on his Broadway theatre experience always started with,
"Never in a million years..."
The "Grease" tour ended in Cleveland, OH in May, 2010, only weeks before the June debut two years before when Hicks had first stepped onto the Broadway stage as the harp wielding Teen Angel wearing rhinestones. In "Hicks Ignites 'Grease,'" an article by the New York Post, he is credited with making a significant impact on the box office—a $150,000 increase a week in the house receipts while appearing in the Tony nominated musical at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway.
"Hello...is this thing on?"
During his run with "Grease" Hicks embraced new social media outlets joining the Twitter community and chatting with fans live on UStream. He continues to interact with fans, other musicians and players in the business on twitter @TaylorRHicks and other social media sites at Facebook and MySpace. His own interactive website at www.taylorhicks.com offers all the latest on appearances and happenings.
"Riding Shotgun with Taylor Hicks"—Taylor Hicks TV on YouTube connected with followers for a glimpse behind the scenes shot by an unknown "sidekick" of the travels and offstage life of this busy musician who frequently tweets: "In the Twair." The weekly episodes continue to engage followers in the ride-along adventures.
Hicks has always been involved in the community and stepped up in 2010 for his home state when the catastrophic Gulf Coast oil spill threatened to destroy Alabama’s tourism industry. He offered immediately to do whatever he could to help alleviate the impact of the disaster on his state and the Gulf Coast. He filmed a PSA for the Alabama Department of Tourism and appeared in a free concert at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum for Gulf Coast aid and awareness. He spoke out on MSNBC with Chris Jensen and wrote on Larry King’s Blog calling for continued media coverage until a resolution was reached. With family living there and playing gigs along the Coast, Hicks called this a cause "close to my heart."
Giving back to the community has always been on Hicks’ radar. In 2010 alone, he performed ten concerts for good causes. They included performances for Children’s Cancer Research Foundation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Dream Foundation Gala in Laguna Nigel, CA, for charities such as Wounded Warriors and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. More recently, in April, 2011, he appeared in San Marcos, TX, for the Ride2Recovery event for recovering soldiers.
Hicks has long honored and recognized the country's service men and women beginning at his debut American Idol appearance at Salt Lake City in 2006 dedicating "Do I Make You Proud" to the troops. He continued that in The Distance album when he recorded “19,” the story of a fallen American hero. It is always on his concert setlist and he thanks the troops for what they do and suggests that everyone thank our brave military men and women whenever they see them. It is an emotional touchstone of every concert and always receives a standing ovation.
Touring in the Blood
After closing night in Cleveland, Hicks went back to what he had done for a long time—touring and performing with a full band. He put together what he dubbed a “kick ass” band and took off on a "Kick Ass" Summer Tour in 2010, which kicked off July 25th with a sold out opening at the Highline Ballroom on New York City’s trendy Westside. On his third tour bus, Hicks and a band from down home played in over 25 cities from New England to California to Florida for the next three months. He hand delivered more copies of The Distance, signing the album and posing for pictures with fans waiting in long lines after each concert.
Hicks proved his talent once again for putting together top musicians who meld to give an energetic and eclectic performance: Brandon Peeples on bass guitar, Leif Bondarenko, on drums, Jeff Lopez on saxophone, Sam Gunderson on guitar, Matt Kimbrel on percussions, and Brian Less, longtime band mate and his Musical Director, on keyboards. The 2010 band has continued to appear with Hicks into 2011 except for Matt Kimbrell, whose untimely death shortly after the Epcot Center shows in October, 2010, shocked and saddened Hicks and his fellow band mates.
August, 2010, brought a special solo appearance by Hicks to honor movie legend, Clint Eastwood, at the Museum of Tolerance International Film Festival in Los Angeles. At the request made personally by Mr. Eastwood, Hicks performed “Gran Torino,” the title song from the classic 1970’s film that Eastwood produced and starred in set in a troubled Detroit. Before a house of film dignitaries, Hicks performed the song that Eastwood also wrote. The performance has only been seen outside the event in a snippet of one of his "Riding Shotgun with Taylor Hicks" episodes.
Jam Cruise 9, a floating musical extravaganza with jamband artists extraordinaire, rang in 2011. Hicks sat in with and received high acclaim for his performances on vocals and the harmonica with Galactic, Robert Randolph, Funky Big Sam, Mardi Gras Band, Anders Osborne, and many others. He also hosted the Jam Cruise version of The Gong Show. It was not his first foray into the jamband scene. He had sailed years before as a guest and young musician schooled in the music that celebrates funk and improvisation. He had headed a jamband cover band in college.
The musician/actor also ventured into TV appearing last fall on "Don’t Forget the Lyrics," and related his own haunting tale on "Celebrity Ghost Stories" on Biography Channel. Most recently, power sliding onto the stage, he made a surprise appearance on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, singing a musical parody with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and the legendary Roots of young Rebecca Black’s "Friday." It was an instant internet sensation going viral and global, scoring almost a million and a half views on YouTube in a few hours after the show. Most frequently described as "EPIC" and "hilarious," it was touted as the new classic Friday/weekend/partyin’ song. It continues to grow global popularity as a viral phenomenon on YouTube.
Hicks added "restaurateur" to his plate in 2011 opening Ore Drink and Dine, an upscale neighborhood restaurant in Mountain Brook, a neighborhood in the Birmingham area. He and investors purchased The Open Door, an historic place where he appeared as a young musician, and created Ore, named after Birmingham’s past strongly connected to iron ore.
In 2012, the songwriter and platinum recording artist moved to Nashville and headed back to the recording studio for a new album that he described as "country soul." "I came from the roadhouse...that’s the kind of feeling I’m giving to my next album."
Hicks continued to tour with concerts and charity appearances from New England to the Northwest. He appeared on the FOX TV dating show, "The Choice." Then his life took another turn that brought him back to the beginning of his American Idol trek.
Headlining in Las Vegas
The American Idol who auditioned in Las Vegas in 2005 became the first American Idol to headline in Las Vegas with a residency engagement at Bally's Hotel and Casino on the Strip opening June 26, 2012, with rave reviews for his energetic roadhouse soul. The highly successful summer run led to an extension with Ceasar's Entertainment that has him at Bally's and other Ceasar's venues through 2013.
In January, 2013, he moved to Napoleon's Lounge inside Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Resort and continues to bring his 'roadhouse soul' to the Vegas Strip through November.
Embracing social media, Hicks sums it up colloquially in his Twitter profile as:
"Artist-Musician-Actor-Hippie-Author-Restaurateur-Genuine Smart Ass-IDOL"
And tweets, again colloquially, about his life after filming the Fallon "Friday" experience:
"The shit that I enjoy doing everyday. Wow...what a life. Thanks everyone."
Leave me with the music
"As a kid, I knew I was supposed to entertain and perform for folks. When you have that self-belief and inner-determination, you understand there are peaks and valleys in this business, and you just keep working at it. ...If you keep working, and you’re good to people, you’ll be blessed."
In his autobiography, Hicks shares his passion for the music that saved him as a young man:
"Singing from your soul isn’t about how many notes you can hit or how long you can hold them. It’s all about intimacy and honesty. It’s about sharing your story in a song—whether it happens to be a song you wrote or one you decided to make your own.
"The only job I ever really wanted comes down to looking somebody in the eyes and telling them the truth—telling them my truth..."
Author and musician Gene Santoro wrote about Tom Waits, the staunchly unconventional songwriter and musician:
"It’s hard not to be yourself when you are as much who you are as Waits is."
In the Waits tradition, Taylor Hicks defends being who you are:
"...I don’t think you should ever run away from who you are. Rather, I think you should run toward whomever you want to be. It’s like they say—wherever you go, there you are."
"If you stay the same person, it doesn’t matter where you go."
For Taylor Hicks, the final word is always the music:
"For me, you can take it all. But leave me with the music."
You are listening to "The Fall," written by Taylor Hicks when he was 19 years old.
Sources: taylorhicks.com 2006, Heart Full of Soul by Taylor Hicks with David Wild for Random House, MTV.com, Highway 61 by Gene Santoro, broadway.com, Syracuse.com, New York Post, Music Maven, media interviews.
Photo credits: Young Taylor-Steven Jackson; Levon-American Idol; Taylor Hicks-Arista Records; Broadway-San; The Distance-Modern Whomp Records; Touring-Fox and Friends; Vegas Poster-Gary Hathaway; Leave Me With the Music-San; BeauRivage-Nolamar Images.
Thank you for not reposting content. -San
Biography: The Journey