Sunday, December 30, 2012

Taylor Hicks~Our 2012 Top Ten List~The Beat Goes On!

You gotta’ love Vegas in 2012! The year revved up with the first American Idol opening on the Vegas Strip with a summer residency. It ended there with more to come!

We look back and celebrate the glitz, the tunes, the hype, and the happenings that made 2012 a very good year in the Taylor Hicks community!

10. 'Soul Power' Soars on Social Media 
It was a continual build of twitter followers @TaylorHicks in 2012 for the Vegas headliner who tweeted his forays around Vegas, sojourns across the country, sports galore from the couch and the stadium, and candid randomness that kept followers engaged. With few exceptions, daily tweets and RTs kept this entertainer connected with his followers.  Social media also allowed fans to be a part of the Taylor experience as concert goers shared their pictures and experiences from Las Vegas and other events.

9. Before There’s Vegas, There’s Business as Usual
Not waiting around for Vegas to call, Taylor started 2012 with appearances, (one in Las Vegas) from New England (with the Jamie McLean Band that would later join him in Las Vegas) to the Bahamas to the Race to Erase MS benefit in California. There were TV appearances. He joined the ever-captivating Southern charmer, Paula Deen, for cooking up Roadhouse Eats on The Food Network. He played the dating game on FOX’s new fun show, “The Choice,” and made friends with fellow show competitor, The Situation, of Jersey fame.

8. Vegas Headliner Connects with the Community
Special Olympics, Nevada Wild Fest Dock Dogs competition, the Wrangler National Rodeo Finals, and other musicians’ shows brought this headliner into the community. He attended charity events, local happenings, and entertainment shows like someone coming to stay a while. This “club kid” was at Stifler’s for what was called the “show of the year” by John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Sun.

If the face of Vegas is anything, it is glitzy. The glamorous Idol joined the glitzy star power walking the red carpet, or orange carpet, at openings, shows, and charity events. His carpet-worthy fashion and style was a parade of photogenic highs.

7. Media Matters
The Las Vegas media laid out the welcome mat with interviews, coverage, and stellar reviews. They were in the audience at The Indigo and came back. Bally’s marketing people presented their new headliner with genuine enthusiasm. Bally’s Kelly Frey: “ @TaylorHicks killed it @BallysVegas tonight! So proud to have him as our newest headliner.” The “searing soul” music of one media story became known as “roadhouse,” an appropriate moniker since it saw much of its growth as the young, struggling Taylor Hicks played at what is called America’s Last Great Roadhouse, Florabama, on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast—a long way from the Las Vegas Strip. Local TV, print, radio and social media enthusiastically brought Taylor Hicks and the Vegas experience to the forefront. A very long list of major and memorable media events in 2012 for the Idol gone Vegas headliner included Huffington Post, CMT Insider, and Hollywood Reporter, to only name a few.

6. New Saw’s Juke Joint Opens
The restaurateur, Taylor Hicks, opened a new casual eatery.  Literally overnight, the former Ore Drink and Dine, opened in the Birmingham area by Taylor and partners, turned into Saw’s Juke Joint, a locally acclaimed Saw’s BBQ. In the laid back comfort of the Juke Joint, Taylor still shows up to entertain and jam with local musicians like Gip Gipson.   Here, he entertains on Thanksgiving:

5. Vegas Gig Goes Viral on American Idol
The gig was out of the bag in April, as Taylor sat in the American Idol audience and announced to Ryan Seacrest and a global audience that he was opening at Bally’s in Las Vegas—an appropriate place for the big news since he was the first American Idol to have a residency in the entertainment capital. Twitter exploded with the announcement, and it was one of several times in 2012 when Taylor Hicks was trending on social media.

4. “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “Eastwooding” Roust the RNC
Saying that he was honored to celebrate the political process, Taylor appeared on the closing night stage at the Republican National Convention in a premier spot just prior to Clint Eastwood’s now pop-culturized ‘speech.’ Just before going on, Taylor met Eastwood backstage and later commented that he knew Eastwood’s appearance was sure to be ‘entertaining.’ It wasn’t the first time these two crossed paths. Taylor performed a stunning “Gran Torino” at special request of Eastwood for a 2010 charity event in Los Angeles.

3. Roadhouse Lights Up the Vegas Strip
A little bit country, a lot of rock and roll, and downright raging, the Vegas music took the town by storm, and this town had seen the best. They hadn’t seen Taylor Hicks and a kick ass band that made “roadhouse” cool on the Vegas strip. Together, they created what one writer called a force that would show up on Dopler radar! New music with a touch of Vegas like “That’s Life” and the finale, “Viva Las Vegas” fit neatly along side music from Taylor’s current album, The Distance, to create a set list that rocked! A new rendition of “In the Ghetto” revered Elvis but was uniquely Taylor Hicks. The poignant “19” honored our troops and reminded us of what we owe our service men and women. A little bit of country, “Country Living,” written by guitarist Jamie McLean, blew the roof off. Musical guests joined Taylor and the band on stage, including John Popper of Blues Traveler.

After all, it IS about the music.

2. Residency Runs Through 2013
The summer run slated from June into August never lost its opening night momentum as fans came in from everywhere and local Vegas guests packed The Indigo at Bally’s.  The stunning reviews lasted and rumors started early that Taylor Hicks would be back. He did return in October with the announcement that his contract with Ceasar’s Entertainment was extended through 2013! Shows continued into December and dates are now available from January 21, through November 23, 2013--links below for dates and tickets.

1. Roadhouse Soul Opens at Bally's
Our top story choice for 2012 has to be #TaylorHicksinVegas. In the official announcement from and Bally’s Vegas, Taylor expressed how honored he was to follow in the traditions of the renowned Vegas stars of live entertainment. On June 26, 2012, the newly refurbished Indigo Room at Bally’s was packed for the opening of this American Idol winner who auditioned for the show in Las Vegas in 2005. Two of the city’s music icons, Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton Holmes were in the audience and tweeted that this was “the real deal.” And it got better. Music lovers filled The Indigo night after night. Vegas couldn’t get enough of the Southern soul ramped up to roadhouse raucous by Taylor Hicks and the Vegas band. Saying he could just go downstairs and do his show each night, Taylor called it, “Not a bad gig.”  Seriously.

And the beat goes on...

With shows continuing in Vegas and the prospect of new music on the horizon, 2013 will be another great year at Taylor Hicks!  Stay tuned!

Catch #TaylorHicksinVegas 2013 ~~

UPDATE 1-13-2013:
Although unconfirmed at this time, it has been reported that roadhouse on The Strip moves next door to another Caesars Entertainment venue, Paris Las Vegas' Napoleon's Lounge when Taylor returns to Las Vegas January 21st.  Tickets are on sale for the new venue:

Taylor Hicks Performing at Bally’s Las Vegas by TaylorHicksTV:

Photo credits:  
@TaylorHicks Twitter Profile - DearWorld 
"The Choice" - FOX TV
Taylor on the red carpet - StarPulse
Saw's BBQ - sandgpie   
Announcement on American Idol - Access Hollywood
What's On Vegas Cover - What's On Magazine
Clint Eastwood and Taylor - The Hollywood Reporter
On stage at The Indigo - Martin Martinez of Bally's
Returning in October - Taylor Hicks via Twitter 

For more on the Vegas music, see blog below, “Twists, Turns, and Tags.”
For more of everything Vegas and beyond, visit The Taylor Hicks Community Anthology ~ Connections:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Taylor Hicks in Las Vegas ~~ "Twists, Turns, & Tags"

I didn’t know what tags were.

I’d been to concerts of some greats--Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Harry Belefonte, the Righteous Brothers. They sang their songs from start to finish. The music was good, and there may have been back up singers who did their backing up and choreographed dance moves.  That was a show.

Taylor calls them “songs within a song,” and they may be “ab lib” –tags. He is making it up as he goes along? What? On stage without a script? What kind of musician does that?

A very good one, like Taylor Hicks.

Tags take a song on twists and turns you never would have imagined. They are the tool of an artist weaving a unique and fun musical experience…

Songs on steroids!

I was astonished and impressed when I read the long set list with tags from the Las Vegas shows.

One of the tag-infested songs in the Las Vegas show is “What’s Right is Right,” the first single release from Taylor’s current album, The Distance.

What's Right is Right
- Mystic Church
- Tupelo Honey
- Summertime in England
- Nottinghill Gate (Gospel Music with Mahalia Jackson)
- Crazy Love (Van Morrison)
- Grease Is the Word
- No Method No Teacher
- Let's Get It On
- Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself Again
- Sweet Home Alabama (7/19/12)
- Polk Salad Annie (8/12/12)

All of these do not appear with each performance and not necessarily on a regular basis. It’s all up to the Titan of the Tags, Taylor Hicks!

“Seven Mile Breakdown” is another popular tag treasure trove:
- Get Back
- Chicken Pickin' Duel
- Running on Empty
- Grits Ain't Groceries
- Movin’ on Up
- Jo Jo was a man
- Can't Trust Your Neighbor
- Who Are You (The Who)

In The Ghetto,” the popular Elvis classic, in a not-so-Elvis-classic version, has its share of tags:
- guitar solo (Jamie McLean)
- sax solo (Brian Gallagher)
- Harlem/Cold Baloney (Bill Withers)
- Don't trust your neighbor
- All Right
- Movin on Up
- It's Your Thing

Other tags are tucked into an extensive and impressive set list as Taylor Hicks headlines at Bally’s Indigo Room in Las Vegas. The TTHC Connections’ archive has kept this collection of the songs and songs within the songs:

From Taylor's first Bally’s run starting in June:
Livin' For the City
- On and On
The Deal
In The Ghetto
- Guitar solo (Jamie McLean)
- Sax solo (Brian Gallagher)
- Harlem/Cold Baloney (Bill Withers)
- Don't trust your neighbor
Love the One You're With
- Big Boss Man (Elvis)
That's Life (Frank Sinatra )
- Woodstock
- Fire, Fire, Fire
Maybe You Should
Seven Mile Breakdown
- Get Back
- Chicken Pickin' Duel
- Running on Empty
- Grits Ain't Groceries
- Movin’ on Up
I Live on a Battlefield
- Woody Woodpecker sounds while scatting
Back to Louisiana
Country Livin’ (Jamie McLean)
Takin' It to the Streets
What's Right is Right
- Summertime in England
- Nottinghill Gate (Gospel Music with Mahalia Jackson)
- Crazy Love (Van Morrison )
- Grease Is the Word
- No Method No Teacher
- Let's Get It On
- Tupelo Honey
- Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself Again
- Sweet Home Alabama (7/19/12)
- Polk Salad Annie (8/12/12)
Minute by Minute
- Arc of a Diver
- Can't Trust Your Neighbor
- Quartz Clock
Gonna Move
On and On (either Stephen Bishop or Erykah Badu)
Viva Las Vegas

Returning to Bally’s in October, there were old favorites and new gems on the set list:
Doctor My Eyes (Jackson Browne)
Living for the City
The Deal
Back to Louisiana
In the Ghetto
- All Right
- Movin’ on Up
- It's Your Thing
Maybe You Should
Country Livin' (Jamie McLean)
That's Life
Don't Let Me Down
What's Right is Right
- Mystic Church
- Tupelo Honey
7 Mile Breakdown
- Running on Empty
- Jo Jo was a man..
- Get Back
- Can't Trust Your Neighbor
- Who Are You (The Who)
Minute by Minute
- Can't Trust Your Neighbor (Freddy King)
Sneaking Sally Through the Alley (Robert Palmer)
Takin' It to the Streets
Viva Las Vegas

This should be posted with: “Subject to Change.” Taylor Hicks always “changes up things.” It is what keeps his shows fresh and vibrant. Special guests share the stage like John Popper of Blues Traveler. On a recent Saturday night, Jennifer Lynn, violinist with the Frankie Moreno band, sat in with Taylor for a portion of the show. Be prepared to be surprised with guests or a new twist (or tag) from Taylor Hicks and his amazing Vegas band.

You haven’t seen him if you’ve only seen him once!

Taylor Hicks continues to rock the set list and the tags at Bally’s Indigo Room nightly at 7:00 p.m. through December 16th and into 2013. Future dates TBA.

Catch the twists, turns, and tags of the roadhouse soul of Taylor Hicks at Bally’s Vegas while you can!    

A favorite tag, Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” was shared by venue host, Bally’s:

*Thanks to all who share their Vegas experience and contribute to our archives of the music and shows. We would be glad to know if you have additions or corrections to our information.

**A special thanks to Cath_tthc who diligently researches, collects, organizes and posts the Taylor Hicks anthology. For more, visit:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Walk on the Slow Side ~ "The Man Who Planted Trees"

Life slowed down this week.

There was time for sunny walks along the quiet street, now almost deserted for the winter except for the grey Ebert (pronounced a-bert) squirrels scurrying about busily storing away a winter cache of acorns.

Acorns are one of those cool things. The French writer, Jean Giono, wrote a great fictional story about a shepherd in Europe who untiringly planted great numbers of acorns and more grew than a great forest.

I left the acorns alone. I have already written about the year that I thought a beautiful basket of acorns on my coffee table would be such a nice touch for the winter. I gathered the acorns from tucked away caches under leaves and broken branches, placed them in a flat, antique basket and admired them on the coffee table in front of the fireplace with no thought of what I had stolen.

The house was warm. The next morning I found there were more than the acorns in the hulls. Small white worms had made their way down from the table, across the carpeting, towards the warmth and a sunny window.

Karma is a bitch. I leave the acorns alone.

Six years after winning American Idol, Taylor Hicks tweeted last week a rare admission:

“Finally hit the wall. #exhausted.”

The body heals, the mind rekindles, and the soul goes on.

Slow down…

There’s more music to come.

Be thankful for what is right in front of you, within you, and still out there.

Happy Thanksgiving from a walk on the slow side!

Take time to hear this wonderful story, “The Man Who Planted Trees,” by French writer, Jean Giono, about a dream, the human spirit, a God-like task, and making a difference, one acorn at a time:

Slow down and enjoy this time with your family and friends!

The Taylor Hicks Community

Join #TaylorHicksinVegas again December 3-16 at Bally's! 


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Taylor Hicks 'Continues to Bring the Roadhouse to the Las Vegas Strip' ~Luck be a song...

“As a testament to his musical talent and showmanship, ‘American Idol’ winner Taylor Hicks will continue to bring the roadhouse to the Las Vegas Strip with a year-long extension performing at Bally’s Las Vegas through 2013, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 17..”

In a town of winners and losers, it’s nice to be a winner.

But it wasn’t the Lady laying down the luck for Taylor Hicks in Las Vegas.

Luck be a song!

Wise people have said that you make your own luck. Music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, says you have to “be there” when opportunity arrives.

This American Idol’s luck started in bars in Birmingham, Alabama, at Florabama on the Gulf Coast, and all the roadhouses and clubs in between where Taylor Hicks, at times, sang to an empty room. He has said you have to sing for no one before you can sing for someone.

He learned his craft and practiced his artistry. He worked hard and never gave up, although he came close to giving up—in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, he said, is where it would have been so easy to walk away from the American Idol auditions and, he admits in his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, where he had hit the wall and wondered how much longer he could try before admitting that it was all a futile exercise.

Las Vegas might well have been the end of the road instead of the beginning.

But Las Vegas was not one more futile exercise. American Idol in Las Vegas gave America an opportunity to hear the soul singer from Alabama, and that has made all the difference.

Taylor Hicks brought it all back to Las Vegas, laid it down, and struck a chord with a highly sophisticated entertainment community. Las Vegas has seen the best. It knows good entertainment and musical talent.

American Idol in Las Vegas? “Roadhouse” on the Vegas Strip? The Vegas players might not lay down a bet on that. Then they wouldn’t know Taylor Hicks, the first American Idol with a residency in Las Vegas. Never bet against this Alabama native who had already beat all the odds with his Season Five American Idol victory!

And he won big in Las Vegas this summer. What Vegas named “Roadhouse” from Taylor Hicks and a kick-ass band with Jamie McLean, Brian Gallagher, Brian Less, Brian Griffen, Mark Vanderpool, and Joe Bergeron took the Strip by storm. This is not from fan reviews. This is from the music community, media, and Vegas insiders who came to see, and came back to see, the newest sensation on The Strip. The positive reviews never stopped. From opening night when Las Vegas icon Clint Holmes called it the “real deal” to the last week when Vegas insiders returned for a second or third time to see what, by then, truly was the Hottest Show on the Strip: “Fun night ahead!”

The print media echoed the applause for one of the best new shows in Las Vegas—high energy to the point of a “hurricane showing up on Dopler radar” with the ability to reduce the small Indigo Lounge to “rubble.” Taylor was named a new “Lounge Cat” that made Vegas lounges “cool” again!

Taylor also became a part of the Vegas entertainment community supporting local charities and being a “club kid” himself after hours in other venues, here at Stifler's with Joey Fatone and Frankie Moreno.

He supported Special Olympics with the Torch Run at The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace with Anthony Cools and Donnie Osmond.

He was not only accepted but, obviously, well liked. Johnny Katsilometes of the Vegas Sun tweeted to Bally’s after the final summer show in August asking that they have this “…Hicks kid back. We kinda like him around here.”

Fans couldn’t have been happier. But we knew what Taylor and a kick ass company could do, from the very successful 2007 solo tour (of which Brian Gallagher and Brian Less were a part), his Broadway summer run as Teen Angel in “Grease,” 2008, the National Broadway Across America “Grease” tour in 2008-2010, a kick ass summer tour of 2010, and an ongoing tour of appearances and concerts, including outstanding support for charities and good causes like the huge BamaRising concert for tornado relief in 2011.

He has an impressive career resume, and the first Las Vegas gig is an addition of which Taylor Hicks can be proud.

From one who was there, the difference in the Vegas Gig was that Taylor had gone further, experimented with “classics” that we thought we knew, made every song “new,” and donned the chic jackets that are the look of his class and style. Perhaps most importantly, he brought the trademark over-the-top energy and sheer “having-fun” that happens with Taylor Hicks and the amped-up musicians that come together. It all fit together to say that this was important and that Taylor truly wanted to honor the traditions of the entertainers who had gone before him in Las Vegas.

It all comes down to the music. He can be most proud of the music. It was inventive, it connected with those who were there, and it paid homage to other great entertainers who had played in Vegas. Perhaps most to his credit, this was not a “made-for-Vegas” show. Taylor stayed true to his roots--roadhouse, done his way.

The music is lasting, and it is the luck that this American Idol brings to the game.

Las Vegas is a long way from Florabama on the Gulf Coast where Taylor says he “cut his musical teeth.” The journey is greater than the miles.  If there are milestones, touchstones, or capstones in one’s life, Las Vegas may be one for Taylor Hicks. It’s been good to him. And through all the success, Taylor never failed to be thankful and express how “blessed” he was to be performing in Las Vegas.

He doesn’t forget the long way there.

And he just happens to have the musical chops to earn his spot!

And another one...

“By Popular Demand, ‘American Idol’ Taylor Hicks Returning to Perform at Bally’s Las Vegas With Year-Long Extension”
“As a testament to his musical talent and showmanship, ‘American Idol’ winner Taylor Hicks will continue to bring the roadhouse to the Las Vegas Strip with a year-long extension performing at Bally’s Las Vegas through 2013, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Taylor will perform nightly in The Indigo at 7 PM October 17 - November 12, and December 3 - 16, with 2013 performances to be announced at a later date.

"Tickets are now available for purchase by clicking here, visiting the Bally's Box Office (3645 Las Vegas Blvd South), or calling (888) 746-7784 or (702) 777-7776. Tickets are priced at $39.99 (regular) and $69.99 (VIP). The $69.99 VIP ticket includes a pre-show meet & greet with Taylor. Additional service fees apply.”

Get your tickets, get to Vegas, and see what we’re all raving about!

From Bally’s Las Vegas:

Video shared by Bally’s Las Vegas. There is a “no video or audio recordings and no flash photography” policy in place at all Taylor Hicks performances at Bally’s.

Top: BamaRising, Getty Images via MJsBigBlog
Indigo Lounge: Martin Martinez, Bally's
Stiflers: from JohnnyKats
Special Olympics: Caesar's Entertainment
BamaRising, Getty Images via MJsBigBlog

Friday, August 31, 2012

Taylor Hicks Rockin' the RNC, Keeping the Slate Clean

Taylor Hicks is an entertainer first and foremost. He said so again this week after his memorable performance at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Thursday night.

He told HuffPost Celebrity:

“I’m an entertainer; that’s what I was invited to do. Seeing everyone being excited about the American political process is great. I’d go to the Democratic National Convention too if I was invited.”

It was a busy and, undoubtedly exciting, week closing his summer run at Bally’s in Las Vegas on Saturday night, then opening a week’s run at Harrah’s in Reno on Tuesday night, traveling to Tampa and performing “Takin’ It ToThe Streets” just before Clint Eastwood’s appearance and Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech.

At first, it was assumed to be an endorsement. Then Taylor Hicks declined to make it that and opened an interesting concept of celebrating the American political process while holding close his vote.

Isn’t that the way it is. We are all alone in the voting booth. It is the place where we voice our ultimate choice, made with soul searching, trying to gather facts, separating the important and not so, and looking at our own values.

But can a celebrity only entertain?

The Season Five American Idol told Fox and Friends Friday morning that his job was to “light some sparks” at the RNC and again sidestepped a question of support for the candidates. He said he was “keeping his vote” and “If you don’t like what you see, use your vote to change it.”

That’s the way it is. We all have a vote.

I respect Taylor Hicks’ decision to celebrate the importance of the event. He sincerely expressed how honored he was to be a part of it.  He’s alone in the voting booth just like the rest of us.

His job is to entertain. As Americans with precious freedoms, it is our job to be informed, make the best decisions based on what we believe, and vote.

I think that’s what he has been saying. He chooses not to use his celebrity to endorse political candidates or try to influence our decisions.

It begs the question is a celebrity a rightful spokesperson for political views and persuasion? Now, they absolutely have the same freedoms we do to speak their minds and work for whomever they choose, and Taylor Hicks may choose to at another time. And we choose where we gather our information and who influences our decisions.

While I respect many celebrities as great people and Americans, I choose not to be influenced by their endorsements.

While celebrating the political process from which we all choose our leaders, Taylor Hicks kept the slate clean.

I think he deserves our respect and admiration for doing what he does best—entertaining.

Here is his performance at the RNC captured by PBS: 

Speaking of entertaining, he is back in Reno, NV tonight at Sammy’s Showroom in Harrah’s doing what he does best! If you think he rocked the RNC, wait until you see him and his band on stage for 90 minutes. He appears through the weekend with two shows Saturday night and shows Sunday and Monday nights.

For tickets and information:

“Taylor Hicks On Performing at the RNC, Taking Risks”

Fox and Friends:

Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP via People Magazine: Taylor Hicks' sound check before RNC performance 8.29.2012. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Taylor Hicks and The Vegas Gig: The Unexpected~That's Life!

The Vegas Gig turned up an unexpected gem!

Here’s the back story:

When Taylor Hicks won American Idol a wonderful group of fans gathered on fan boards across the internet. Many talented ones made beautiful montages with music in the background and photos of Taylor and his journey.

One of these was made by talented Canadian fan, KarinP who also did the much viewed “Nineteen,” with the amazing graphic contributions of a long-time fan, Allyn from Georgia.

When Karin read our Vegas blog, she sent me a montage she created in April, 2008 called “That’s Life.”

Yes, a Taylor Hicks montage called, “That’s Life!”  Taylor now sings “That’s Life” in his headlining show at Bally’s in Las Vegas; Karin features Michael Buble’s version as background for a beautiful collection of vintage Taylor Hicks photos from those years.

“At the time I did that video, I was feeling really bad for Taylor with respect to some unkind press. Taylor has always done it "his way" and sometimes that can make the road a less than ideal ride. It was just something I felt that I wanted to put out there because I knew that he would weather the storm and come out smelling like a rose. I think there is a lot more in that ‘little engine that could’ and I am excited to hear what his new album is going to sound like.”

Early 2008 saw Taylor joining a host of the famous for the NBA Playoffs Celebrity Basketball Game in New Orleans in February. He was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in March. And there was the charity event outside Birmingham for Hannah’s House and a seemingly unusual choice on the setlist: “On Broadway.”

Two months after “That’s Life” was created, Taylor was landing on the New York stage from a giant ice cream cone and his picture was on a five-story billboard outside in Times Square. He was starring as Teen Angel in “Grease” on Broadway and would take it on the road for 18 months for a very successful national tour!

He opened on Broadway…in June!

Here’s the Vegas back story:

Both Karin and Allyn were supposed to be in Las Vegas for our weekend in July. I was looking forward to Taylor’s meeting the creators of “19,” “West Texas Sky,” “Trip Around the Sun” and other beautiful visuals. I didn't yet know about "That's Life!"  But it turned out that neither of them could make it. They had both seen Taylor in concert and knew what a show it would be. Karin reminded me that she had run into him in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the Dan Aykroyd Niagara Wine Auction in June, 2007 and welcomed him to Canada!

I wish they could have come to Las Vegas where Taylor opened in the Indigo Lounge at Bally's ... June!

It would have been very fitting for them to see “That’s Life” done Taylor’s way!

That is life…charming with its twists and turns, both disappointing and exhilarating, and mindful that picking ourselves up is just a part of it…

And that you really can be “back on top”…in June!

Just like the song says…

We are pleased to share this endearing montage from KarinP, Allyn, and a host of fans who contributed to it.

From KarinP (@Magnoliabreezes): “That’s Life,” April, 2008


Quote from Karin is shared with her permission.

We proudly showcase Allyn’s banners and graphics on TTHC including her special “Vegas” above!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Taylor Hicks Rocks the Vegas Gig!

"I Live on a Battlefield” sold me!

It was a “dark horse” that grew on me when Taylor Hicks recorded it on his 2009 album, The Distance.

I had heard it before. Just not like this.

With the reviews and hype behind me, I was about to have my own look at what it was all about. “Living for the City” is a rousing opening that sets the raucous mood. When the first few lines of “I Live on a Battlefield” were delivered with such power and fierce enunciation, I could feel the anger of the lyrics with the “ruins of the love we knew.”

"'Battlefield' killed!"

And I knew what the hype was all about. This was going to be different.

That’s what you learn straight away when you follow this American Idol. You think you’ve heard it, but you haven’t.

Vegas insider John Katsilomentes for the Las Vegas Sun said:

“Taylor Hicks is too much for this room. Indigo is a cool little spot, but he's apt to reduce it to rubble.”

“I Live on a Battlefield” could be that which reduces this “cool little spot” to rubble!

Taylor Hicks opened an eight-week residency at Bally’s Indigo Lounge in June. His intimate show is soul, rock, blues, country, and, yes, “funiness” from the Idol who says he’s trying to learn the comedy bit. It is the spectrum of sounds from the whole band blazing on songs like “I Live on a Battlefield” and “Country Living” to single exquisite moments of sound from “In the Ghetto” and “19.” Each, and everything in between, is a summer picnic for the senses.

I have to take the Thursday night show in the intimate Indigo as the best in the three from last weekend perhaps just because it was my first look at what all the talk was about. There was no denying the energy of the music and, like those Hollywood hills, it took you higher and higher and higher! The band was blazing, the leader of the Soul Patrol was relaxed and in superb voice, and everyone was having fun.

I sat next to a family that was in Las Vegas for a reunion. They had never seen Taylor Hicks but were excited to find him in Vegas. They loved the concert and one of them kept moving closer to the stage to take a picture just like the true fan! As Taylor has said—one fan at a time! This time it was three!

A Taylor Hicks concert is a musical sharing as Taylor interacts and generously features his band of outstanding musicians who so obviously love making music. Jamie McLean, Brian Less, Brian Gallagher, Brian Griffen, Mark Vanderpoel, and Joe Bergeron are all showcased with solos and the spotlight. You know how good they are in their own right. Together, they prove what a huge “sum total” they are!

For the Elvis purist, “In the Ghetto” is a departure, but in a good way. Taylor likes the version and you can tell. “That’s a cool version….But what do I know?!” One guest this week called it “musically brilliant” and that is a good description. Its juxtaposition of tragic lyrics sung with raspy emotion of the streets, musical jamming of guitars and saxophone, and, finally, exquisite sounds by percussions and drums are stunning. The inspired ending to “Ghetto” is one of the exquisite moments of the evening.

“19” is that balance that keeps us grounded. Taylor brings the show full circle with his tribute to a fallen soldier and honors our troops with a sincere request to thank them for their service. It receives a well-deserved standing ovation for the troops. We were honored to have a Serviceman in the audience at one performance.

“Country Living” written by lead guitarist Jamie McLean is country like you haven’t heard. If you aren’t movin’ and groovin’ happy with this song, you aren’t breathing. It almost literally blows the roof off and could be part of the demolition of the Indigo!

“Seven Mile Breakdown” and its tag, Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” is a tale of two roads, and I’ve been on both. The humidity is almost visible as you drive the flat roads of the Mississippi delta. “Seven Mile Breakdown” laments “you hate being down before you ever loved being up” and “I’m gonna tear this whole place down, and I’ll be on my way” about tearing down after the show and hitting the road.

Running on Empty” talks of life on tour for Jackson Browne specifically on California’s beautiful “101” road “running into the sun.” These two songs are a dichotomy of places, but in harmony in spirit about life on the road for musicians and for us all “running on, running on, running into the sun…”

In all that goes on in the evening’s eclectic set list, the beautiful “Running on Empty” isn’t lost. It is remarkably that—a beautiful song that holds its own. It defines “real music” and is my most memorable moment.

Viva Las Vegas” finale is a natural for a nod to the Neon City. It’s the perfect Vegas ending with the curtains opening and the entire casino joining the chorus with enthusiasm probably in measure to their luck at the machines.

I don’t know what Las Vegas expected from the first American Idol to play a residency here. To the credit of Taylor Hicks and the good luck of Vegas, they got the real deal. This is not a made-for-Vegas show. He kept the roadhouse, the soul, the blues, and the genuine persona of the Southern soul singer “blessed” to be here. With only a nod to Las Vegas, he kept it…real Taylor Hicks!

As someone who has picked himself up a few times and gotten back in the race, “That’s Life” is a good Sinatra choice. Taylor had fun with it.  It fits.

That’s what he was doing the first time he ever came to Las Vegas—getting back in the race, auditioning for American Idol.

And just sometimes the race really pays off in a big time Vegas way!

The hype is now saying that Vegas “gets” Taylor Hicks...

Perhaps because he stays true to the Vegas traditions of live entertainment in the best of ways!

Viva Las Vegas!

There is much more "coolness" to Taylor's show at Bally's! See what Vegas “gets” and what a host of followers know: Taylor Hicks at Bally’s Indigo Lounge is musical magic!

Photo: Thanks to Martin Martinez of Bally's for a great capture of Taylor Hicks and the Band!

“musically brilliant” quote: @Lanaesgifts via Twitter; “cool little spot” quote: @JohnnyKats via Twitter;
Next (probably): Another look at the Vegas Gig...musings, moments and possibly the mundane!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Sweet Sound of Success: Taylor Hicks Opens in Las Vegas TONIGHT!

Good reviews are in an it's only the sound check!!!

From Bally's last night:

"@GaryHathaway: My wife & I were lucky enough to see part of @taylorhicks sound check this evening at @BallysVegas....His show is gonna ROCK!"

"@GaryHathaway: Hey people, go see this show if your in Vegas!! @taylorhicks"

Much is written about measuring success.

If entertainers measure success each time they step onto a stage, tonight’s another notch on his guitar…

Taylor Hicks, platinum-recording artist, 2006 American Idol, Broadway musical star, and touring musician, steps onto a new stage tonight at Bally’s Las Vegas for 40 shows in the next eight weeks.

It’s a homecoming. He auditioned for American Idol in Las Vegas. And he is the first American Idol to land a residency in the Neon City.

In 2005, he flew to Las Vegas alone, stood in the audition line, and dreamed of this day.

That day is here, but this time he didn’t come alone.

Van Morrison once said he wouldn’t tour if he didn’t have a great band.

Taylor Hicks has shown genius in gathering extraordinarily talented musicians behind him. More importantly, they are artists who match his own energy and passion for making music.

Meet the Vegas Band!

Jamie McLean on guitar and Brian Griffen on drums of the Jamie McLean Band have performed with Taylor in several venues in the Northeast. Taylor was a guest performer on their recent CD release Live at Gibson on Jamie’s “Country Living” and the classic “Midnight Rider.” They are hard- driving country rock super stars described as “dripping with energy.” Taylor has described them as out there “kicking ass every night.” They bring the jamband energy and kick ass persona!

Jamie McLean

Brian Griffen

Originally from Memphis, Brian Less is a longtime fixture on the Taylor Hicks stage. Don’t let that unglamorous description fool you. He lights up the stage as brightly as Vegas neon! His fingers literally fly over the keyboards and he often receives accolades for his performance. He was the youngest member of the original Taylor Hicks Band and later the founder of the Little Memphis Blues Band that performed with Taylor in shadow concerts during Taylor’s American Idol Tour. He has been a longtime band mate and Music Director.

Brian Less

Brian Gallagher on saxophone started “beating the brass” for Taylor during his first National Solo Tour in 2007 in that killer band. The St. Paul, MN musician picked up the saxophone at age 10. He told TTHC in an interview some time ago that he was a huge fan of the pop 70s sax solos. “I like any style of music if it’s done correctly. I soak in everything I can. Music, music, music!” He has recorded with Taylor, notably the soulful sax solo on “What’s Right is Right” for Taylor’s 2009 CD The Distance. 

Brian Gallagher

Mark Vanderpoel on bass is a Broadway musician with impressive credits. He has been part of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions including The Burnt Part Boys (2010), Guys and Dolls (2009), Legally Blonde (2007), and Jane Eyre (2000).

Mark Vanderpoel

If you measure success by how much you love what you do…

You will see, hear, and feel the love all these musicians have for their music and for performing.

The Alabama native turned American Idol, turning Vegas headliner, sums it all up succinctly and movingly:

“For me, you can take it all, but leave me with the music.”

The sweet sound of success plays at Bally's  Indigo Lounge this summer!

Rock The Strip, Boys!

Congratulations on Opening Night!

Much success in your summer at Bally’s…may it run into many winters...

See you in Vegas! 

The Taylor Hicks Community

Photo credits:  Taylor at BamaRising, Getty Images via MJSBigBlog; Vegas Band, FOX5 Las Vegas; Jamie McLean, screencap from Avalon Theatre; Brian Griffen,; Brian Less, Wonder, Epcot Center; Brian Gallagher, BrianGallagherMySpace; Mark Vanderpoel, FOX5 Las Vegas. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Taylor Hicks' Summer on The Strip, Part 2: "Closing Circles"

Taylor Hicks opens at Bally’s Las Vegas for an eight-week residency starting June 26.

Taylor Hicks isn’t just another performer headlining in Las Vegas.

He is the first American Idol winner or finalist to receive a residency in Las Vegas.

It is especially meaningful for him because he auditioned in Las Vegas. When Hurricane Katrina caught him in New Orleans and his flight out was cancelled, he was given a replacement ticket which he used to fly to Las Vegas where American Idol tryouts were being held.

A few blocks from Bally’s at the Las Vegas Convention Center, he stood in line in October, 2005, reaffirming his vow to never give up his dream to be an entertainer. He was an unlikely contender, with prematurely grey hair, and, at 29, looking nothing like the very young people around him. It would have been the perfect opportunity to walk away.

He recalls the challenging time in his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul:

"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."

After two days of auditions, the callbacks moved to the Renaissance Las Vegas. Only 11 of those “kids” in line got the Golden Ticket to Hollywood, including the unlikely Taylor Hicks.

He almost didn’t.

Only judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul sent him on while Simon Cowell infamously declared that the soul singer from Alabama would never make it to the final rounds.

He did, and more.

From seven cities around the country, 175 contestants headed to The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles for the Hollywood rounds of Idol’s Season Five. In solo performances, contestants chose from only 12 songs available. Taylor Hicks sang “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers. Ninety-nine hopefuls moved forward to group performances and then a solo acappella. Forty-four went through and the final 24 were chosen, including Taylor Hicks.

He has said that he “made it” by standing out—not blending in. He has often cited song choice as important in the competition. His music was a standout eclectic mix of blues, soul and rock.

The Top 24 competition began in February, 2006, and the unlikely contestant from Birmingham, Alabama, captured the votes of America singing with never-die heart and soul:

Top 24 – “Levon” (Elton John)
Top 20 – “Easy” (The Commodores)
Top 16 – “Taking It to the Streets (The Doobie Brothers)
Top 12 – “Living For the City (Stevie Wonder) Stevie Wonder Songs
Top 11 – “Not Fade Away” (TheCrickets) 50s Songs
Top 10 – “Trouble” (Ray LaMontagne) 2000s Songs
Top 9   – “Country Roads” (John Denver) Country Music
Top 8   – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (Queen) Songs of Queen
Top 7   – “You Send Me” (Sam Cooke) Great American Songbook
Top 6   – “Just Once” (James Ingram) Love Songs
Top 5   – “Play That Funky Music” (Wild Cherry) Year they were born songs
               “Something” (The Beatles) Current Billboard Top 10
Top 4   – “Jailhouse Rock” (Elvis Presley) Songs of Elvis Presley
               “In The Ghetto (Elvis Presley)
Top 3   – “Dancing in the Dark” (Bruce Springsteen) Clive Davis’s Choice
              “You Are So Beautiful” (Joe Cocker) Judges’ Choice
              “Try a Little Tenderness” (Otis Redding) Idol’s Choice
Top 2  -- Finale “Living for the City” (Stevie Wonder)
              “Levon” (Elton John)
              “Do I Make You Proud?” (Taylor Hicks)

He was one of six winners who were never in the bottom three, and the Season Five Finale was the most watched TV show of the DECADE.

On May 24, 2006, Taylor Hicks became Season Five’s American Idol.

Six years later in the town where it began, he headlines at one of Las Vegas’ most iconic places—Bally’s!

In the official announcement from Bally’s and he honors the traditions he joins:

“A residency in Las Vegas is one of those opportunities an entertainer dreams about. Vegas is where Sinatra’s Rat Pack and America’s greatest talents make musical history. To join those ranks is both humbling and thrilling. My goal is to live up to that legacy of live showmanship."

For the hopeful, road-weary musician from Alabama who had never been to Las Vegas before his audition there, headlining there must seem surreal as his name glows in the glitzy neon lights—like Lady Luck smiling down on those who dream and work diligently to make it happen.

This summer, celebrate all those who dream and never give up—the legendary entertainers who“made it” and headlined in Vegas…

And welcome one more to that august company!

From standing in line outside the Las Vegas Convention Center in 2005 to headlining inside the glamorous Indigo Room at Bally’s Las Vegas in 2012, that road for Taylor Hicks comes full circle.

And as “Taylor Hicks” goes up in neon lights at Bally’s, that circle is closed.

Be there when another one begins…

At the #hottestsummershowonthestrip!

See you in Vegas!!!


Read Taylor Hicks’ inspiring autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, Random House, 2007, with David Wilde.
Photo:  Taylor Hicks at BamaRising fundraiser for tornado relief, 2011, shared via

Information according to

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Taylor Hicks' Summer on The Strip: Takin' It Back To Las Vegas...

Taylor Hicks opens in Las Vegas at Bally’s June 26, for an eight-week stay.

Bally’s isn’t just another Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

As the MGM Grand, it was the biggest hotel and casino in the WORLD when it opened December 5, 1973, and remained so for some time.

The entertainer for that premier was Dean Martin.

“The 26 story MGM Grand cost $107 million, has over 2,000 guest rooms and suites, six restaurants, two showrooms, a shopping arcade, a movie theater for classic MGM films, and an area for spectators to watch, and wager on, live Jai Alai games.”

It was destroyed by a massive and deadly fire in 1980 that killed 85 guests and hotel employees. The disaster led to massive changes in fire safety regulations. The MGM Grand re-opened in July, 1981. It became Bally’s in 1986 when it was purchased by Bally’s Manufacturing.

One of the showrooms at MGM Grand when Bally’s took over was home to Jubilee, which is still playing 28 years later making it the longest running production show in Las Vegas.

Jubilee presents about 85 performers, both topless and covered, and 1,000 different costumes made with 8,000 miles of sequins. The rhinestones used on the costumes are silver plated Swarovski crystals and the headpieces can weigh up to 35 pounds.  The massive stage is half the length of a football field and the sets weigh up to four tons. 

Bally's marquee featuring Jubilee... 

Bally’s has hosted the biggest names in entertainment: Liberace played here in the 1970s.  Las Vegas was the iconic hangout for The Rat Pack—Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. When one of them played there, others would show up and usually join in the show.

The rich musical and entertainment traditions of Las Vegas are legendary. It was, and still is, a benchmark for performers to play in LasVegas. There is simply no other “gig” like “playing Vegas.”

Taylor Hicks joins the ranks of those headlining in Las Vegas as he opens at the Indigo Room at Bally’s June 26 for eight weeks.

The Indigo Room is billed as a “grand escape” for a first class time in Las Vegas serving signature cocktails and coffee drinks. It is one of Las Vegas’ “most glamorous destinations” with a stunning lounge environment set apart from the casino floor. It’s getting a makeover designed to accommodate more ticketed entertainment with soundproof curtains and room for larger crowds. The “retrofitting” is scheduled to be completed before Taylor’s opening.

Bally’s is the center of Las Vegas nightlife on The Strip!

Join Taylor Hicks as he brings his fired-up Southern country rock to this Summer on the Strip!

He is joined by the New York Jamie McLean Band for a singeing hot summer party on The Strip—one to be remembered!

BUY TICKETS NOW FOR #thehottestsummershowonthestrip:



Taylor Hicks' Summer on The Strip:  Part 2—“Closing Circles”

"Taylor Hicks isn’t just another performer opening in Las Vegas...”

More of  #thehottestsummershowonthestrip!
Get tickets, get packed, get glitz, and get your Vegas on! 
***Photo Credit at top:  by Amanda Shavers-Davis/Cullman Times; Taylor Hicks at Smith Farms Music Festival, Cullman, AL, May 26, 2012; photo copyrighted and used here with permission; please do not repost. 

***Source Credit: Thanks to cath_tthc for research and pictures for Connections Anthology "Las Vegas 2012" forum with information from:'s_Hotel_and_Casino,_Las_Vegas_Nevada#ixzz1t3pptOEX

Read more and keep up on the latest from Taylor Hicks' Summer in Vegas:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Taylor Hicks ~ American Idol Finale Night ~ "One of Only Ten..."

As A. J. Hammer on Showbiz Tonight recently pointed out in his interview with the Season 5 winner, Taylor Hicks is one of only ten people in the world who knows what it’s like to win American Idol.

There will soon be eleven. This is American Idol Finale night.

While the statistics produced by Season Five in 2006 were impressive, so were the accomplishments of the young man from Alabama, Taylor Hicks. He had spent years on the road and in roadhouses looking for that elusive break. Hurricane Katrina would bring it.

And it all came down to this moment:

Finally, the confetti rained down and he had to brush the fireworks from his hair.

And nothing would ever be the same after this night.

Tonight starts a new journey for an aspiring artist as it did for Taylor Hicks six years ago.

It seems like a long time ago, and it seems like yesterday. I didn’t know Taylor Hicks except that he sang like he loved it, and he fought to win. And he certainly had his home state of Alabama behind him.

I’ll be rooting for the artist who sings like music is their life and who has that unknown something in their song that “grabs” me, like Taylor Hicks’ music did.

“The business of life is to go forwards.” ~ Samuel Johnson

To the winner tonight and all the Idols this season, may your journey forwards be blessed. Don’t forget where you came from and where you’ve been!

I think that is why we look backwards.  Where we’ve been really creates our way forwards!

For Jessica and Phillip…

Nothing will ever be the same after tonight!

Good luck and much happiness and success as you go forwards…

The Taylor Hicks Community.

Read the inspirational story of Taylor Hicks' road to American Idol in his autobiography, "Heart Full of Soul" available on
Watch A. J. Hammer's interview with Taylor Hicks on Showbiz Tonight from Monday Night:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Taylor Hicks Talks to CMT Insider: "Southern, Soulful, Country..."

“…a Southern, soulful, country guy…That’s who I am.” In an exclusive studio interview that aired this morning on CMT Insider, platinum recording artist and American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks, sat down with Allison DeMarcus and shared his new musical vision.

Although it really isn’t new.

"I gotta stay true to who I am. And that’s a Southern, soulful, country guy, and I’m excited about it. That’s who I am."
CMT Insider: Taylor Hicks Country Album

He told Ms. DeMarcus he was never comfortable being labeled a pop artist after the Idol show.

"I was a real roots artist."

"What’s your biggest fear about going after the country audience?"

"Everybody knows you can’t fool a country audience. I have to have a career song. And I have to be patient."

He’s been busy during those patient years.

Taylor released two indie albums before winning Season Five of American Idol in 2006, In Your Time and Under the Radar. His post Idol album, Taylor Hicks, went platinum shortly after its release in 2006. He took over his own recording and formed Modern Whomp Records that released Early Works, a compilation of his two previous indie albums. His live concert DVD, "Whomp at the Warfield" captured the energy and stage persona of his 2007 9-month national concert tour as it stopped in San Francisco at the Warfield Theatre.

In 2008, he added Broadway musical theatre to his resume with a very successful summer run as a harp wielding Teen Angel in "Grease." When the Alabama native was asked to join the national touring company, he agreed to the 18-month road trip. During the "Grease" run in 2009, he released The Distance on his own label and promoted the album as he traveled with "Grease" and toured the music into 2012.

Along side the songwriting, recording, and studio work this summer for his new country soul album, Taylor will open at Bally’s in Las Vegas for an eight week engagement starting June 26. He is the first American Idol winner or finalist to land a residency there.

Las Vegas is the city where he auditioned for American Idol.

See all of the conversation and a studio recording clip from what may be Taylor's new single, "Teach Me to Dance," when this episode of CMT Insider is rebroadcast on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. ET on CMT.

WATCH a clip from the interview online at: CMT Insider: Taylor Hicks Country Album

Friday, April 20, 2012

Taylor Hicks is First American Idol with Residency Engagement in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is where it all began and the American Idol show on Thursday Night is where Taylor Hicks announced that he will be returning to Las Vegas for a summer residency at Bally’s Las Vegas.

From the official press release by Bally’s and

“As announced on ‘American Idol’ last night, Taylor Hicks, winner of the show’s fifth season, will have an eight-week engagement headlining at Bally’s Las Vegas beginning Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Hicks will play in The Indigo at Bally’s Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m.”

“Hicks becomes the first 'American Idol' winner or finalist to secure a residency in Las Vegas, a testament to his talent and staying power as one of the show’s most beloved stars. It is also a sort of homecoming, as Las Vegas is where Hicks’ journey to fame began. He was in New Orleans the night before Hurricane Katrina. With his flight cancelled, he was given a free airplane voucher. Hicks used the ticket to travel to Las Vegas, where coincidentally 'American Idol' auditions were being held.”

The Season Five winner reflected on the great legacy of a residency in Las Vegas:

“Vegas is where Sinatra’s Rat Pack and America’s greatest talents made musical history. To join those ranks is both humbling and thrilling. My goal is to live up to that legacy of live showmanship."

Taylor Hicks joins the host of memorable artists to enjoy a residency engagement on the Las Vegas Strip!

Read the official Release here:
For more information and updates, please visit or

Follow @TaylorRHicks on Twitter.

Photo credit: Jules Clifford: Taylor Hicks at Las Vegas engagement February 14, 2012.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Taylor Hicks~~ Beyond Reason--the American Idol Dream!

Taylor Hicks hosts an American Idol Viewing Party tonight in Birmingham at his own restaurant, Ore. The Season Five IDOL winner should have great insight into the show where he was never in the bottom three, his season garnered the largest viewing audience ever and the finale was the most watched show of the DECADE! The Idol summer tour in 2006 was the largest grossing ever. It was a pretty good year for the franchise and the artists who competed there.

I have a confession to make. I have never admitted this to anyone!

Even though I watched every week, every show, every performance in Season Five, and was cheering for the young man from Alabama...

I never voted for Taylor Hicks!

Let me explain...

I didn't vote for anyone.

I was new to the phenomenon of musical competitions on TV. I had only watched the finales because they were happenings. Voting on a phone? The only voting I had ever done had been in a booth on Election Day!

I have written much about how far I've come since then. It has been much like a "coming out" into the modern world. I learned so much about technology, social media, and the fan world. I learned what following an artist meant.

It all became a part of my life, fitting in along with work, a beautiful family, and a new “connected” life.

Yet, it’s not how far we’ve come.

It’s how far we’re going.

I hope that is what the young people on American Idol this year are looking at—how far they are going!

There was never any doubt how far Taylor Hicks was going. He never gave up. He was the age of many of the Idol performers when he started out performing at a bar in Birmingham where he was too young to be. His first time in Nashville as told in his autobiography was a low point in his struggle to make it. He left without the success he sought.

He didn't give up. He just took a road not going through Nashville. And it would be years before Taylor would return to Nashville on his own tour busses to play the packed Ryman Auditorium in March, 2007, after winning American Idol. Now he lives there, writes music with some of its most talented songwriters, and is writing and recording his new album there.

The road goes through Nashville this time.

In his autobiography, Heart Full of Soul, Taylor's determination to make it is the story's heart and soul. Someone said recently on a music competition that they didn't have a "B" plan. Music was it. Taylor didn't have a "B" plan. He tried a "normal" life but always came back to music.

He did reach a point when he doubted how long he could just go on looking for that big break. When did it just become an exercise in futility? When Katrina hit New Orleans, he caught one of the last taxis out of the city. With his flight cancelled, he had a Southwest voucher to anywhere in the country. He made one more decision to not give up and flew all by himself to Las Vegas for Idol tryouts.

From Heart Full of Soul:

“.. an objective observer would have noted that the way things had been going for me of late, this Idol tryout was likely my last shot at breaking into the big time.

“As time goes by and you continue to go through the painful but often unavoidable process of paying your dues, waiting around for your elusive break in show business comes to seem less an act of reason ad more an act of survival, perhaps even an act of faith. One lingering and lousy question never really goes away: how long can any of us afford to spend finding our way? In our quieter moments we’re left to wonder: at what point does waiting around for a break become simply waiting in vain?”

Very early on the morning of October 10, 2005, Taylor caught a cab to the Idol tryouts.

“I’d requested a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call so I could rise before dawn and get to the auditions at the Las Vegas Convention Center as early as possible. I remember getting into a cab as the sun was still coming up and noticing how incredibly beautiful the brightening desert sky looked. I asked my driver, ‘Does God make these sunrises every day?’ The cabbie just smiled and said, ‘Yes, every day.’

“It was a chilly desert morning, but I remember feeling warmed by the sense that my luck was about to change…”

Perhaps there was a little luck that day in the City of Luck, but it’s really about Taylor’s never giving up.

Social media speaks for a gigantic world where so much can be lost in its sheer volume. Sometimes the relevant goes unnoticed. This didn't.

A young teenaged singer tweeted a video to Taylor for him to see and said that she dreamed of being on American Idol some day. He noticed it and his response was knowing and inspiring:

"Dreams do come true."

American Idol may bring overnight fame. It doesn't bring overnight success. Taylor has often called it a platform. It was a stage from which his voice was heard by millions of people. The rest was up to him. He had been in the business for over ten years. Even after winning, it has taken long hours on the road, work in the studio, making tough decisions and playing the music game to get where he is now. American Idol is not a dream come true. It's an open door. What's on the other side is up to the artist.

To those on American Idol who begin their incredible journey this week:

How far are you going?

Those in the business a long time will say you must pay your dues, practice, write music, tour, and make real music--good music.

Even though Taylor Hicks may have been at a point of questioning his reasoning in continuing to pursue his music, he didn't give up his dream.

Dreams go way beyond reason, and that makes all the difference.

To the American Idol winners this year:

Never give up!

To the American Idol losers this year:

Never give up!

We wish you much happiness in following your dream and finding your voice in music.

Someone's luck is about to change!

I'm still trying to make up for never dialing the phone and voting, voting, and voting...!


Photo: Taylor Hicks, Las Vegas, 2/14/2012, copyrighted by Jules Clifford, used with permission to TTHC; see more of Jules' stunning photos here:!i=1717485569&k=hDM8rjw

Quote from: Heart Full of Soul by Taylor Hicks with David Wilde for Random House, 2007.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Taylor Hicks on Ustream talks new album, touring, and Idol

Taylor Hicks chatted with followers tonight about his new album and a plethora of topics.

A new “country soul” recording is expected out later this year although he declined to give a date. He did say he is about half way through writing it and is collaborating with several songwriters.

“I’ve got four – five really great undeniable songs” so far. He called the new work a “pretty bad ass” record!

He answered questions pre-posed by fans on Twitter as well as fly by ones in the UStream chat thread. One took him back to his win on American Idol Season Five in 2006:

If you could go back to the night you won American Idol…would you carve out the same path?

Taylor answered thoughtfully:

“I’m pretty happy where I’m at.”

He talked about traveling to other countries for tours and said Japan and Indonesia were “not out of the question.” He also said he would love to go to Bali.

He complimented “Kat,” his Season Five Idol competitor, Katherine McPhee, on her debut in “Smash.”

A wide range of random questions were fielded by a relaxed Taylor Hicks, including the boundaries for his fans, Celebrity Apprentice, and acting.

Some surprises were announced at the end of the chat revealing an American Idol Viewing Party planned at Ore Drink and Dine, Taylor’s Birmingham restaurant. Details to be announced. He will also be discussing American Idol on local television appearances in Alabama and Tennessee.

Watch the complete live web chat video on his official website:

and check out all the latest on Season Five’s American Idol champ.

Taylor connects on Twitter ~ Follow: @TaylorRHicks

Thanks to cath_tthc for the Ustream screencap.