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.