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 Taylor Hicks taking it one step at a time

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Number of posts : 4528
Age : 54
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PostSubject: Taylor Hicks taking it one step at a time   Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:12 am

Hicks has had a varied life up to this point, with Hurricane Katrina, a free airline ticket to Las Vegas and a last-minute decision to audition making him the fifth (and at 29, the oldest) winner of American Idol back in 2006.

But the story starts a lot earlier, when Hicks was 5 in Birmingham.

“I was at a friend’s house and they were playing a Ray Charles record. It stopped me right in my tracks. I connected with his sound right away. His soul got to me. I was starting to connect with some real emotional stuff around then.”

That’s how Hicks introduces the defining event of his childhood, the emotionally charged break-up of his parents when he was 8. That kind of split is difficult enough for a boy that young, but as Hicks put it, “I bounced around all over the state for the rest of my childhood,” being passed from one relative to another.

“Yeah, my youth was a tempestuous time,” he allows, “and the pain of it still lingers in my memory. The key is finding an outlet for that emotion.”

For Hicks, that outlet was always music. “I spent so many years envisioning breaking into the music industry, ever since I was 6 or 7,” he recalls. “That’s a long time. It was the culmination of sweat and grit and drives in a minivan in the middle of the night on a Southern highway.”

Nothing came easy to Hicks in those early years. He admits he had trouble in school because “music was my calling, not books. I was a weird little kid off in my own world." He reveals the extent of his obsession by confessing that the ’60s R&B duo Sam and Dave "came before Algebra for me.”

So with no money and no other creative outlets, he taught himself how to play music. “The harmonica was first. I didn’t have any music books or stuff like that so I started matching the sound of the harmonica to everyday noises: air conditioners, airplanes, car horns. That’s how I found out about pitch. It was sure an interesting way of learning.”

Later on he moved onto the guitar and then, when he was 18 he wrote his first song, a piece called “In Your Time.”

“That was the whole nine yards,” he recalls with satisfaction. “Putting all those pieces together, making it happen. I could see the light shining out there somewhere.”

The surprising side of Hicks, however, is the hard core of practical realism that’s balanced his artistic idealism all along.

“I always knew show business was one of the hardest businesses in the world, so I tried to have a back-up plan.” He studied business at Auburn University, but admits he had a hard time “trying to finish school and be a musician at the same time. It’s not easy trying to balance things together. I knew I had a calling and I knew it was going to be entertainment in the end.”

After three years of the struggle, he quit, but he doesn’t regret a single moment of his schooling.

“There is no question I picked up a lot from my business studies that I use in my career today. I learned success doesn’t last forever, so you have to try and have as much clout and control over your career as possible. As long as you’re holding the knife, slice yourself as big a piece of the pie as possible.”

Those days were still a ways off for Hicks. He “bounced all over the Southeast” for about eight years, sometimes as a solo, sometimes with a band, never quite finding the magic sound he was looking for.

“I’m still trying to find that voice,” he concedes. “I’ve gone through many hoops in this career of mine and I’ll keep going until I find the right one.”

Then came Hurricane Katrina. Hicks was in New Orleans for a friend’s wedding in August 2005 when the deadly storm hit. The airports were closed and he grabbed “one of the last taxis leaving town” to get out in time.

When he finally arrived at an airport, he was told he could use the ticket he had to fly “anywhere in the U.S.” so on a whim he picked Las Vegas.

Once there, he heard American Idol auditions were going on.

“I knew that winning on that show could bring you success in the music business. I knew it was big. I never actually thought I was going to get on it. I was trying to test the waters a bit.”

He didn’t just test the waters, he rode the waves — big time. Although he may have come on the air as a simple “good ol’ boy,” he had a strategy all worked out.

“You have to be smart in the way you imprint yourself on the viewers every week so that they like you and keep coming back to watch you. You have to be premeditated to use your talents in a different way each week.”

And on May 24, 2006, this quirky 29 year-old with a full head of grey hair was named winner in front of a worldwide audience estimated at 200 million people.

“What did I feel that night? I felt relief. I had worked so hard and so long to get there, I felt I could finally take a breath.”

But he couldn’t. The celebrity machine he’d longed for all his life had arrived and he didn’t like some parts of it.

“I didn’t like being followed by a helicopter full of paparazzi. That’s a very surreal moment. You know you’ve gone from obscurity to fame when there’s a helicopter following you.”

Although the rabid Hicks followers (“The Soul Patrol”) stayed faithful to him, Arista Records dropped him after a single release and his next album was self-produced on his own label.

He saw playing the cameo role of Teen Angel in Grease in 2008 (first on Broadway, then on tour) as a wise career move because “I know my limitations and I wanted to start out with something small, but flashy that didn’t require a lot of acting, but would keep the fans happy.”

As for what lies ahead, Hicks says he feels “this is just the beginning of my career. There’s going to be a lot of things I’m going to do because I’ve worked very hard to get to this point.

“I know this is my calling. And I’m excited for the future. The defining moment hasn’t come for me yet.

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PostSubject: Re: Taylor Hicks taking it one step at a time   Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:23 pm

Well, you know whatever Taylor does in his career the true Soul Patrol fans are going to be there. I'm so glad he's doing well.
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PostSubject: Re: Taylor Hicks taking it one step at a time   Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:58 am

That's the key right there. Whatever he does, those of us who love him will always be there.

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