Monday, May 31, 2010

Taylor Hicks ~~ Remember our troops...

"Nineteen" performed by Taylor Hicks at Roxy's 3.18.2009

From Taylor Hicks on Twitter:

“Have a Great Memorial Day Weekend! This weekend is to honor our Service Men and Service Women!! God Bless The USA!” TaylorRHicks Fri 28 May 18:09 via Twitter for Blackberry


“Don't ever be too shy. To tell a soldier "Thank You" while you are in the airport.” TaylorRHicks 4:37 AM Mar 29th via txt.

“I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day. I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it. We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.” ~Benjamin Harrison

Fly the flag! Remember our troops and thank them for what they do for us every day!

Video: "Nineteen" by Taylor Hicks at Roxy's courtesy of PayTheDevil.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

American Idol ~~ Life changer?

I wondered what Taylor Hicks was thinking as he sat at the American Idol Finale tonight on the other side of the stage. He has been backstage on this night waiting to know if his life would change.

We are in the Life Changing Era…we have life changers…life coaches…telling us how to change our lives. We can be famous, wealthy, slim, healthy with the right life changing “strategies.”

We didn’t have life changers when I was growing up. We just “grew up.” We went to church, got married, had children, worked hard, and tried to be a good person.

Some strove to become famous, like Elvis. He made it, and then it destroyed him. He didn’t have a life changer coach.

Don’t misunderstand. I am for changing your life for the better however you can accomplish it. I just wonder if we have thought this to death, and it has become too complicated. Isn’t it really about having a dream and working hard to achieve it?

There is a band that I ran into on twitter. I followed them simply because their website said something like this:

We dream and then we get up every day and go out and work hard to make it happen.

Is it about a big break? Or is it about getting ready for opportunities?

Music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, has frequently written about how many years the superstars of today worked in out of the way places before they made it. They paid their dues and without those years they would not be the performers they are today.

Isn’t that what Taylor Hicks did? American Idol was just the recognition of his ten years of working hard in clubs and bars to become the performer that made him Season Five winner in 2006.

I don’t think dreams end. There is always another one. Taylor has said he wants to be a working musician, to entertain. The stages may be different, but his life dream is the same. We know what music means to him…his life, his savior.

I just watched Taylor walk onto the Idol stage again with the coolness of a seasoned performer, a smile, and a sparkle in his eye. It didn’t start with Idol. He had been preparing for tonight’s opportunity for well over ten years. He took his place among the other Idols. A place he earned with a dream and hard work.

I know a lot is said about a dream and hard work. But that is pretty much what a life changer is.

American Idol just provides the stage.

This year’s new young Idol said his music and entertaining is what he will always do. I think he took a page from Taylor’s book.

Taylor, you always stand out on any stage. Tonight, you did the Idol stage and your fans proud!

Keep the dream! And go out tomorrow and make it happen!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Taylor Hicks ~~ "Goodbye, Grease"

Looking back with love…

In a matter of hours, with a flourish of the harmonica and a final ascent in the cone, “Grease” is in the books.

Taylor Hicks, Teen Angel in midnight blue glam, stores the one-of-a-kind suit and goes home to soul country.

It was a good run!

Taylor has gone from a nervous opening night of Broadway’s “Grease” at the Brooks Atkinson
Theatre on June 8, 2008, to a spectacular closing at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland today.

I had the pleasure of writing about it all.

It seems like yesterday. I could feel the excitement of Opening Night, and I was a thousand miles away. There had to be gifts to celebrate a new milestone and to share our excitement with the new Broadway star.

And that he was.

It took a bodyguard to get him in and out of the theatre and around New York City. He lived in a high rise overlooking the Hudson.

He worked the rope line at the stage door and the bottom line at the box office.

Taylor Hicks proved worthy of Times Square’s five story billboard any way you looked at it, whether it was for the sheer fun he created on the stage or the increased box office receipts he brought in. He earned his fame and keep on the Great White Way.

He had said: “Entertain or go home.” Taylor entertained.

So well, that he was asked to take it on the road in an economy when there was little discretionary spending. But people came to see “Grease.”

And he earned great reviews—“campy,” “over the top,” “most fun.” The Alabama soul singer who had never acted found his groove and created a new soulful, harmonica- wielding, “taylorized” Teen Angel.

He learned to tweet from the giant ice cream cone. He tweeted about food, airports, and weather. He was mistaken for George Clooney.

He met with countless media in countless cities across the country. He played and sang to a hound dog and a goat. He was a TV sous-chef.

He created memorable Shadow Tour shows for fans all over the country. From Chicago to Sunset Boulevard, he played where he was most at home—the stage he had grown up on. He managed to sit on a stool and sing and added acoustic concerts.

“Grease” AND a Shadow Tour concert in your city was a priceless ticket!

He met the Prime Minister of Canada and visited the White House, again. He saw blizzards, floods and rainbows over the ocean. He sang the National Anthem.

He traveled to all coasts and Canada. He released a new album, The Distance. He made his first music videos, one in a snowy Chicago and the other in sunny California and his first concert DVD, Whomp at the Warfield.

He returned to the beginning and brought down the Idol house with a country rock mix of his new single release, “Seven Mile Breakdown.” It was how you do country on American Idol!

Simon Cowell gave him a long-deserved standing ovation.

Writing about that night will remain one of my all-time personal favorites.

And all the time, he played Teen Angel eight times a week. He got the acting bug. He drank Bud with the wine drinking crowd in The City. He drank wine at dinner overlooking the Nation’s Capital.

He went home to Birmingham and created two unforgettable concert experiences at WorkPlay. He built homes and community for Habitat for Humanity. He stayed true to the music and the ethics that make him Taylor Hicks.

I had the pleasure of writing about it—even being there for some of it.

And I wouldn’t have missed it for all the ice cream flavors of the night!

Teen Angel will be missed. And how do you follow an angel?

With Taylor Hicks, songwriter and touring recording artist.

Teen Angel’s gone country? He’s got a resounding resume to hang on once-closed doors!

~A final reflection

It was early Sunday morning in Tucson, Arizona. We had two more “Grease” shows to see. I am a morning person, especially on Sundays. The peace and silence of Sunday morning compels me to be there. I would never sleep through it.

I was walking around the beautiful theatre and entertainment complex in the perfect spring weather of the Southwest. The sun was shining in the glass of the front windows of the theatre. It caught a perfect frame of Teen Angel. I stared for a long time at the smiling angelic face and moved to see it as shadows crept across the glass.

What were the chances this young man would make it from the raucous bars on Saturday night to this giant Broadway poster shining in the sun on a beautiful Sunday morning?

I remember very vividly in that warm, quiet moment, that everything just felt “right.”

Looking back, “Grease” seemed right for Taylor Hicks on so many levels for so many reasons. It felt right as it was happening—just as it did this Sunday morning in Tucson.

At least it did to me.

This was my “Grease” moment. Somehow, it also seemed significant for the smiling Teen Angel in the window.

I’m a thousand miles away again. With all that Taylor has accomplished in the past two years on the “Grease” stage, today feels much more like another opening than a closing—another beginning, another exciting adventure for Taylor and for us.



God speed home and to wherever your heart and music take you…

We will be there….

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Taylor Hicks ~ "No stoppin' that train..."

Not then. Not now.

Taylor Hicks doing Jailhouse Rock on Elvis Week on American Idol Season Five was a foregone conclusion—at least to Taylor Hicks.

Nevermind that it was not well received by all the judges. Looking back on Idol Rewind recently, Taylor said that in his mind he would do Jailhouse Rock and have some fun. And then he added:

“There was no stoppin’ that train!” and he laughed.

He knew where he was headed that night. He went all the way to the other end of the spectrum that was the talent of Elvis by singing a heart wrenching “In the Ghetto” for his second song.

Now Taylor owns that song.

Those were the comments THIS year when it was performed on Idol. Taylor Hicks from Season Five owns that song. It has been called the highpoint of Taylor’s successful run on Idol and Simon finally gave Taylor his due:

“Young man, you have just sung your way into the semi-finals.”

Carrying more than raucous rock and quirky dancing, there was no stoppin’ that train.

Not then. Not now.

It’s not slowin’ down and it’s making a difference.

Taylor announced recently his first full concert after "Grease" will benefit SOS Children’s Village to kick off their worldwide campaign on June 17 at Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

“SOS Children's Villages was founded in 1949 to provide families and homes for orphaned and abandoned children. There are over 456 villages in 132 countries around the world. Please join us as we travel Around the World to raise funds for this important mission with a concert featuring Taylor Hicks and Matt Cusson.”

Other events already on Taylor’s summer and fall calendar take him from golf in one of the most beautiful places in the world to music in one of the most magical places and even a Simonesque role as a judge in a singing contest.

May 21, 2010 ~ Wind Creek Casino, Atmore, AL ~ “Sing Your Way to $100,000” ~ Taylor judges finals and performs throughout finale.

June 13, 2010 ~ Syracuse Balloon Fest, Syracuse, NY ~ Final evening performance for this popular New England summer event.

June 17, 2010 ~ This show is the official "Around the World Kickoff Concert for SOS Children's Villages" (an organization that Taylor is proud to represent). Matt Cusson will be opening for the show.

July 18, 2010 ~ 21st annual American Century Championship Golf Tournament at Edgewood Tahoe. Tournament week begins Tuesday, July 13th with the Lake Tahoe Celeb-Am and runs through Sunday, July 18th, 2010

October 9 – 10, 2010 ~ Epcot's "Eat to the Beat Concert Series" Orlando, FL ~ Taylor returns to the popular Concert Series at the 2010 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The concerts, which are included with Epcot admission, will be at the America Gardens Theatre stage. Performances will be nightly at 5:15p.m. 6:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.

The last performance of “Grease” next week in Cleveland is not a closing but a transition. You have to believe that Taylor always knows where he’s headed, just like he did during Elvis Week on American Idol.

Relive the magic! Watch the final two weeks of Season Five on Idol Rewind on FOX and on TVGN channels. It’s really fun to watch when you know the ending!

And get ready to follow more tracks of Taylor Hicks as he says goodbye to “Grease” and hello to new destinations and ventures with that same determination and fire that rocked the Idol stage four years ago.

In true Elvis tradition and a perfect Southern drawl, Taylor can say, "Goodbye, Grease. Thank you very much!"

Next: “Goodbye, Grease!” Lookin’ back with Love.

For more information on all the Taylor Hicks happenings, visit out message board:

Photos courtesy of FOX and Freemantle Entertainment; screencaps from a capture by Connections member, OBG.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Taylor Hicks ~ Standing by Music City

Taylor Hicks tweeted Friday:
“Help Nashville Flood Relief donate $10 to red cross by texting 90999!! TaylorRHicks Fri 07 May 23:12 via txt”

The music community is standing by Music City.

In 2007, David Wild coauthored “Heart Full of Soul,” the autobiography of Taylor Hicks for Random House and wrote about Nashville as Taylor tried to make it in Music City. He is a TV writer, contributing editor for Rolling Stone, and author of “He is…I Say.”

Last week, he wrote about Nashville again, “They are Nashville: Standing by Music City” as devastating floods destroyed homes, lives and historic landmarks.

“I love Nashville. …Like New Orleans, Nashville is a unique American City that still makes its own kind of music, and it does so in its own way at its own pace. Although I don't get to spend as much time there as I would like, Nashville still feels like a second home to me whenever I am fortunate enough to spend time there.”

“I blogged here about my ongoing love affair with Nashville last November right before the Country Music Association Awards, a big TV event that I feel very privileged to have written in recent years. I wrote that piece having just spent a night standing backstage at the Grand Ole Opry during its weekly radio broadcast feeling both at the center and the top of the world. Today the Grand Ole Opry building has been devastated by the flooding of the Cumberland River, as have so many other truly historic and special places in Music City. Nearly thirty people have died, and the damage there seems almost impossible to calculate or comprehend.”

He alluded to a piece by another blogger, Patten Fuqua, “who I believe usually blogs about hockey for something called Section 303. Today, however, Mr. Fuqua wrote a short but powerful piece called ‘We Are Nashville.’” It focuses on the lack of media coverage given to Nashville in light of other pressing news stories. It also pays tribute to the people of Nashville who simply did what they needed to do last week because “We are Nashville.”

David continues: “…I think every American should take a few moments and read his piece. And I think everybody who loves music - any kind of music really - should make plans to visit Music City in the not distant future and be a part of this city latest and greatest comeback story. Knowing the city and the people pretty well, I fully expect Nashville to be greeting the world warmly again by the time the CMA Music Festival comes around in June.

“See, whether you know it or not, Nashville has already touched and graced your life through some of the greatest music America and the world have ever known -- all kinds of music too. Let's all do our part to help Nashville and its people keep the music playing forever more.”

Some writers gave it the press it deserved. AOL’s News contributor, Michelle Ruiz, put it in a Nashville context:

“The losses felt in Nashville in the wake of its historic flood may someday inspire a heartbreaking country song. For now, though, Music City is assessing the untold damage caused by the record-breaking rains and subsequent flooding that killed at least 29 people in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky.”

The Grand Ole Opry House was flooded with three feet of water covering the stage; ten feet of floodwater filled the Opryland Hotel. The bars and clubs on 2nd Avenue and the Sommet Center Bridgestone Arena, home of the annual CMA and CMT Awards shows, were flooded. The Country Music Hall of Fame reported five feet of water in a mechanical room and damage to a theater in the building. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home to the Nashville Symphony, had 15 feet of water in the basement putting instruments at risk and already lost are two pianos and their organ.

For the first time since 1975, the Grand Ole Opry shows had to move to other locations—one to the Ryman Auditorium.

As I saw the news from Nashville this week, I tried to picture the flooded areas, but I didn’t see much of Nashville in 2007 when Taylor Hicks brought his solo tour to the Ryman Auditorium. Remembering that afternoon walking up the steep hill in front of the Ryman, I was quite sure that it was high above any flooded areas. We were across the street and only saw a few blocks around the traditional home of the Grand Ole Opry. But I knew that Taylor had spent time there. Taylor and David had written about those lonely days in a cold Music City.

I also remembered many, many years ago watching the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights with my Dad. I am sure it was coming from the Ryman. He loved the show—Little Jimmy Dickens, Ernest Tubb, and Porter Wagner in the Nudie Cohen-style flashy suits which were the inspiration for Taylor’s Teen Angel rhinestone-encrusted suit.

Country music star, Marty Stuart, said last week that he had taken over Porter Wagner’s backstage dressing room at the Grand Ole Opry after Porter died and that he had little hopes of recovering from his dressing room a rhinestone bedecked tapestry he kept on display there, fashioned from what was to have been a new Nudie Cohen suit for Porter before he died. It was only one of the many, many treasures that were buried last week in the muddy waters of the Cumberland River.

As the Grand Ole Opry will play once again in Ryman Auditorium this week, a member on our message board posted a comment with an interesting perspective:

“Interesting how life comes around full circle=the Opry STARTED in the old Ryman Auditorium-and it has come home. Nashville is rising.”


In 2007, Taylor Hicks took the stage at the historic Ryman for his encore. He sang an emotional, “May the Circle Be Unbroken.”

Another circle may be closed as Taylor has hinted that he wants to spend some time in Nashville after his run in “Grease” that ends just two weeks from today. He may find a little different city, but no doubt, the same spirit of surviving and rebuilding as Country Music stars and the resilient people of Nashville come together to meet this latest challenge.

And you can bet your Gibson Les Paul Vintage that country music will set it to song!

“Help Nashville Flood Relief donate $10 to red cross by texting 90999!!
TaylorRHicks Fri 07 May 23:12 via txt”

You can also donate at the Middle Tennessee Red Cross Chapters which includes Nashville:

Stand by Music City! Nashville music has touched the hearts and lives of us all.

Taylor's tour bus outside the Ryman in 2007:

The TaylorHicks Community blog banner picture above is from Taylor's 2007 appearance at the Ryman.

Sunday morning reflections:
Last Sunday morning I was looking at pictures of Gulf Shores, Alabama, where they were preparing for the onslaught of the massive oil slick, and I was remembering Biloxi. The news is still not good as efforts fail to contain the gush of oil.

This Sunday morning I am looking at pictures of flooded places in Nashville and remembering the second stop of my Taylor Tour in 2007.

We need a breather from disasters.

Next Sunday morning I expect to be looking at media pictures of Taylor Hicks in Cleveland and blogging about the spectacular run of “Grease!” It’s almost over.

This is a happy Sunday morning as I celebrate being a mother!

Happy Mother’s Day to mother’s everywhere and to my beautiful daughter who is one of the world’s best young mothers!

I am a very blessed mother!

Blogger references:
“They are Nashville: Standing by Music City” by David Wild

“We are Nashville” by Patten Fuqua

A calm Cumberland River winds through Nashville (from

“Floods Damage Nashville's Music Landmarks”Michelle Ruiz, Contributor, AOL News

“Nashville music landmarks devastated by floods; Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, more tweet their status.” (Also: info on how to help!)by Whitney Pastorek

“As flooding subsides, Music City surveys damage”
by By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times

And special thanks to TTHC’s Cath for bringing together a comprehensive thread on Connections about the Nashville story. For more information and articles:

And thanks to OBG, Connections member, for her thoughtful perspective.

On the mp3 player~Pure Nashville country: the ever-beautiful classic, “Tennessee Waltz” by music legend, Patsy Cline.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Gulf Coast ~~ Paradise in peril...

Taylor Hicks was serious on Twitter this week, the Gulf Coast on his mind:

@TaylorRHicks: Hi all! Had a great time with Jax press! Please keep the Gulf Coast in your thoughts and Prayers. Thu 29 Apr 13:05 via txt

@TaylorRHicks: Studying the oil spill. This has not been contained. There is a catastrophic event taking place. Thu 29 Apr 23:04 via txt

@TaylorRHicks: Gulf Shores Al. Putting Boom out Sat 01 May 14:20 by twitpic

The Gulf Coast has long been vulnerable to Mother Nature. Today it waits in the sights of a manmade disaster of mega proportions. Morning news sources describe the situation like “waiting for a slow moving hurricane” as the oil spill makes its way onshore and inland.

Appearing in “Grease” in neighboring Jacksonville, FL, Taylor no doubt was remembering a long history on the Gulf Coast. He has said many times that he cut his musical teeth at the FloraBama roadhouse on the Coast at the Florida/Alabama line. He occasionally reminds us that he wrote “The Deal” on the Gulf Coast.

Early whomp on the water at The FloraBama...

I was on the Coast in 2007 for Taylor’s Biloxi concert.

But my memories go back much further to a vacation trip I took with my family in the 50s when my older brother was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base. For some kids from the Midwest, the Gulf was a pristine vacation paradise.

As I drove the Coast highway from Biloxi to New Orleans in 2007, the devastation from Hurricane Katrina was still evident. Yet, it was still a paradise!

Taylor was back in Biloxi on 9/11/2009 for a sold-out Shadow Tour show at the beautiful Gulf Coast Beau Rivage. His song, “Nineteen,” was a stunning tribute to 9/11 and the nearby military at Keesler.

Taylor at Beau Rivage, 2009.

In his autobiography, “Heart Full of Soul,” besides his many gigs on the Gulf, he recounts partying there in younger days. He returned recently to the Coast to relax in his down time.

The Coast holds special memories for many of us.

Our thoughts are with the Gulf Coast as it waits again. Not for Nature’s test this time; this time it’s man’s.

Taylor rocks the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, 2007:

Beau Rivage photo by raj6; Biloxi pics by San.