Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Measure Of A Musician

It has been frequently asked, “what is the true measure of a man?” But what is considered the true measure of a musician?

Is it the music itself that a musician produces? Lyrics and melodies can make or break a song, and lyrics often are subject to the harshest criticism. They can't be too corny or too mundane, and they also have to grab a listener as something they can relate to. The melodies have to be innovative enough to stand out, yet they have to appeal to the everyday listener so that they will be remembered, hummed in the shower or on the way to work, danced to, and have the hook that will make them played and replayed throughout the day. Does Taylor Hicks’ music measure up to this?

Perhaps it is the passion and dedication that goes into producing music that will be played and replayed. There are musicians who turn out songs to sell or for commercial purposes, and this is the primary goal. Then there are musicians who create music for the pure love of it. Their goal is that their music reflects something deep in their core which they feel is primary and the commercial appeal is the partner, not the driver. I think anyone who has seen or heard
Taylor Hicks perform one of his original songs, or has heard Taylor speak about his creative process is blown away by the genuine core that runs through his music--that deep place within him from where he draws his strength and genius to pour into his production.

Do we measure a musician by his business sense? Is it the shrewd timing of the release, the presentation through the performance in concerts and appearances? Is it setting the stage for generating anticipation, both in new music previews and actual stage presence? In every business there must be some strategy, and this seems best when an artist truly knows his audience. Who knows better than Taylor Hicks how to tease his fans with new music to come, how to present himself on stage, and how to time the previews and release of his music so that anticipation builds high? The introduction of his newest CD offering through his "Grease" role, where he has so many long time and new fans in attendance, is sheer genius.

Another criterion in measuring a musician is how much he gives to his audiences. I can think of very few artists who so give so selflessly of themselves as does Taylor Hicks. Through illness, fatigue, an incredibly demanding tour schedule, even overseas, this man has given and given, and his fans continue to feel him everywhere in their world.

So what is the true measure of a musician? To me, it is all of the above and one thing more. It is the DRIVE and the DEVOTION to a DREAM that constitutes this measurement. Because once you have that Dream and push with the depths of your Soul to fulfill it, all of the above falls into place. To me, Taylor Hicks is the true measure of a artist who goes the distance and beyond...yet never leaves his past behind. It is with him always on his path, both the raw and soulful parts, shining through every corner of his craft and it is the foundation of his musical talent.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful things...

I am thankful for…

A beautiful family who likes my cooking
Caring friends who are always there when it matters
A warm home in a quiet place
A job that pays my bills and lets me travel
Freedoms that let us disagree, prosper, worship, and vote
Technology when I can make it work
People who are tolerant and forgiving

I am thankful when…

A person I don’t know very well says “Good morning” and smiles at me.
A real person answers a business phone.
I read that a child has been given much needed medical care.
Animals have been rescued from abuse.
The evening news shows our troops ARRIVING home at the airport.
A grandchild calls to tell me that he is on the Honor Roll.
Taylor Hicks sings a second encore.

I am thankful that…

We can connect with people far away.
A beautiful kitty adopted me and enriched my life.
Good music never becomes noise.
Family are always family.
I have learned new things this year.
Another Thanksgiving is mine to remember.

I am thankful if…

My jeans still fit after the holidays.
The beautiful snow doesn’t knock out my internet satellite.
The Dow is up and unemployment is down.
My bulbs in the window bloom before Christmas.
The evening news has a happy story.
Someone offers me chocolate.
I have made a small difference in someone’s life, if only for a moment.

To be thankful is to recognize what is important in our hearts and to know how lucky we are to live with the things that make us happy.

May you have your “thankful things” around you.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Coming together for the children...

The 2008 Birmingham Angel Tree

When Taylor Hicks was still a struggling young musician, he gave a small donation to a Birmingham charity and said that someday he hoped he could give more. He has given much more and has inspired us all to do the same. Taylor has challenged us: “Together, we really can make a difference.”

This year especially we need to come together to make a difference. This could be a very dismal Christmas for families who have lost their jobs and homes, or are struggling just to feed their family. A bright Christmas is a dim hope. Parents must be preparing their children now for a Christmas without presents. What are they saying to them? What would WE say to our children?

More people every day are being forced to live without so many things that we take for granted—a way to get to work or the doctor, a warm home, or food for their family. If all that went away for us, what would WE do?

We know in this fast-failing economy that many resources are going away for good people with families and pets. What will THEY do?

The Taylor Hicks fan community is coming together to bring smiles to children on Christmas morning. It is the best way to celebrate the true spirit of this holiday season and show our own children the joy of sharing with others.

The Official Soul Patrol and The Taylor Hicks Community are teaming up with the Birmingham Salvation Army to sponsor an online Angel Tree. It works like the Angel Trees you see in the malls, but it is online. You may adopt an Angel and send gifts of new toys and clothing for that child to the Salvation Army in Birmingham. Or you may make a cash or credit card donation in ANY amount online to the Angel Tree project. Gifts will be purchased and delivered to the Salvation Army for our Angels.

The last day that you can adopt an Angel or make a donation is November 30.

Make this a Christmas to remember with presents for children who otherwise will not have them. We CAN make a difference and bring a happy Christmas morning to children in Taylor’s hometown. Adopt an Angel or make a donation to the 2008 Angel Tree!

For more information visit:

And please give generously from your heart!

Coming together for the man, the music and, most importantly, the children!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The music in context~~then and now

A recent audio blog by Taylor Hicks from France teased fans to speculate if the music playing in the background was a snippet from his new album. It made me wonder…

We have had the opportunity to place the Early Works by Taylor in “life context.” Early Works is the music that grounds Taylor to a time when he wasn’t signing autographs at a stage door. It represents the roller coaster of being on stage playing the music he loves and facing reality the morning after of being a struggling singer driving byways in the South looking for the elusive road to success. It is where he has been and the voice he struggled to find.

A very popular song from another Idol, Clay Aiken, says, “To fly I had to want to leave the ground…on my way here.”

The context for the new music is very different. Taylor Hicks has flown. He now lives in the bright light of stardom. He has realized a lifelong dream. He has performed for the masses and on the Broadway stage. When he wrote Early Works, he was looking for recognition. Now he wears a stocking cap for disguise when he jogs.

I have no idea how his creative process works…I can’t say that the muses visit me. But I wonder if the new music will reflect a different context…come from a different place in Taylor’s life? How far away from Early Works will it be, or how close? Is there a style and essence to Taylor’s music that will always be reflected and supersede the life context?

Of course, the new music will have different sounds and different vibes. It will be fresh and contemporary. Still, I am betting on one common and continuing thread in Taylor’s music—intensity. You do not listen to the sounds of Taylor’s music. Taylor’s music, you experience. This is personified in his performances where he doesn’t just sing a song. He becomes the music.

Is Taylor’s music a reflection of the time? Or is Taylor’s music a reflection of who he is, and that doesn’t change from Birmingham to Broadway?

I’m waiting. I’m betting on it not changing!

Place your bets!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Taylor Hicks joins a proud gallery at Pearl River

One year ago…

Taylor Hicks ended his 2007 touring season one year ago in very good company at the Pearl River Resort and Casino near the small hamlet of Philadelphia, MS. Proudly displayed near the box office in the Silverstar Resort along the walkway to the Golden Moon was a very impressive gallery of musical greats who have appeared at Pearl River since the resort opened in the early 1990s. Yes, Taylor’s idol, Ray Charles appeared there! There were over 90 pictures of rock and roll, country, blues, jazz, soul and pop stars. They represented all the musical genres of the late 20th century and the early 21st century. Taylor’s large concert poster was prominently displayed on the corner wall among the greats.

I sat for a long time thinking about the history of this place and the people here. The original venue on this location could have been part of the unglamorous “chitlin’ circuit” of Southern clubs and bars that was so much a part of Taylor’s early career. The long wall of pictures represented artists who were just starting on their journey and some who were getting near the end of their musical careers, as a gray-haired Ray Charles indicated. Some pretty darn good artists preceded Taylor along this road in Central Mississippi.

Music seems to evolve in circles. The folk music in the 60s, with artists like Van Morrison, was a revival of Woody Guthrie’s early folk music. Now, Taylor is bringing back music that we haven’t heard for a long time. Sure, he will always have new music, too. It all works together to make new music that is like the old and the old sound new! The music that spoke to Taylor as a child, now speaks to us…again.

As Taylor closed his 2007 tour here, I thought how appropriate that he was ending it among these great performers including his idol, Brother Ray. As many of these artists first brought music into our lives, Taylor has brought it back for us to enjoy again. I stared at an aging Ray Charles sitting at his piano and the brightly lit concert poster of a young Taylor Hicks. I was struck with the sensation that a torch was being passed.

I hope that Taylor had an opportunity to see his picture in this special company. There was a lot of talent, heart, and soul on that wall. Taylor Hicks belonged there. With his own special style and intensity, he has bought back the good soul music of his predecessors.

I think he makes them proud!
How do you think that Taylor Hicks has carried on the legacy of his idols?

Photo by san~originally published in The Soul Connection, November 2007

To experience more of Taylor's concert at Pearl River Resort visit our Pearl River Thread: