24
Jan
09

Taylor Hicks Artist Bio

From Rocket Science client write up.

Alabama’s favorite son continues to be in “The Right Place” since becoming the fifth-season winner of American Idol.  During the last two years, Taylor Hicks has seen his Arista debut album certified platinum, performed with the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, The Allman Brothers and Willie Nelson, toured through Asia, penned a brisk-selling Random House memoir, and made his Broadway debut in Grease

Currently working on new album, to be released in Spring 2009, Taylor recently released another reflective of his pre-Idol years, Early Works (Vanguard Records), which merges his indie albums In Your Time and Under the Radar into one collection.  Along with his contribution to the forthcoming Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, recorded live in Ashville, North Carolina, his own DVD, Whomp at the Warfield, offers fans exhilarating live performances by Taylor and his band at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco.

For now, he is excited to spend the summer in New York City, performing eight shows a week in Grease at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.  As Teen Angel, singing “Beauty School Dropout” while also showcasing his harmonica skills, Taylor appreciates the opportunity as “a perfect fit for me to experience Broadway theater,” in a musical much-loved for its memorable songs.  The three-month role, which began in June, will wrap in early September 2008 

Taylor was eight when his family moved from his native Birmingham to nearby Hoover and his parents divorced.  Early hardship quickly led him to the warm and tender mercies of soul music.  As a youth he realized he had perfect pitch, and taught himself to play guitar and a blues-wailin’ harmonica.  After graduating high school in 1995, he studied business and journalism at Auburn University and shepherded the release of his first independent album, In Your Time.

Focusing on music full-time, Taylor became a fixture around Birmingham, opening concerts and club dates for visiting stars like James Brown, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Robert Randolph, Keb’ Mo’ and others.  He honed his skills and learned to please diverse audiences.  “At some of the beach bars I played over the years, I had to entertain 15-year-olds sitting with their 75-year-old grandparents,” Taylor recalls.  In early 2005, Taylor released his second indie CD, entitled Under the Radar.

His personal twist of fate came in New Orleans, at the wedding of an Auburn friend, the night before Hurricane Katrina hit on August 29, 2005.  With his flight cancelled, he was given a free airplane voucher.  Earlier that summer, he had considered auditioning for AI in Memphis, but the auditions were cancelled as the city became one of hubs of the Katrina relief effort.  Through the summer and fall, however, auditions proceeded in eight cities across the country Taylor eventually used his voucher to travel for a Las Vegas holiday, coincidentally American Idol were auditioning in Vegas during his vacation.

By February, as the fifth season got well underway, two dozen semi-finalists had been chosen. From the start, Taylor’s material set him apart, with such blues and funk-based rockers as the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It to the Streets,” Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” and “In the Ghetto,” and Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.”  By May 12, “Soul Patrol!” fever was everywhere as Taylor was brought to Birmingham for a weekend celebration, a concert in his honor and a personal meeting with Governor Bob Riley, who officially proclaimed Monday, May 16 as “Taylor Hicks Day.”

A lifetime steeped in the blues, soul and R&B of his native Southern heroes – Ray Charles, Otis Redding, James Brown and Sam Cooke, to name a few – culminated in no uncertain terms as Taylor Hicks won the fifth season of American Idol It was an emotionally uplifting night – May 24, 2006 – when 36.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the season finale, the year’s third-largest audience for a televised event after the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards.  More than 63 million votes were cast in crowning a gritty, down-home, white R&B singer the new winner.

Less than three weeks later came the debut of Taylor’s first single, “Do I Make You Proud,” coupled with “Takin’ It to the Streets,” culled from the AI Season 5 Encores CD.  The single entered at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, Pop 100 and Single Sales charts, with first-week sales over 190,000 units.  As with previous AI winners’ singles, a portion of the proceeds from every CD single, download, ringtone and ringback benefited the American Red Cross.  Coinciding with the single release, a cover story named Taylor as People magazine’s Hottest Bachelor of the Year.

His self-titled album, Taylor Hicks (Arista), was released on December 12, 2006.  It debuted in the #2 spot on the Billboard 200 and was quickly certified platinum.  Produced by Grammy winner Matt Serletic (Matchbox Twenty, Santana, Willie Nelson, Courtney Love), the album showcased Taylor’s talents and roots: from the feel-good groove of “The Runaround” to the ballad “Just to Feel That Way” to the bluesy “Heaven Knows” to the earnest “The Right Place,” originally written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance for Ray Charles to record before his death. During the fifth season of AI, in the summer of 2006, Taylor had already recorded his third indie album, Live at the Workplay Theatre, with the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra.

Audiences cheered Taylor during the summer American Idols Live! tour, and he went on to thrill audiences across Asia.  Back in the U.S., Taylor went on the road performing with Willie Nelson, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers and Jackson Browne.  Adding publishing to his list of growing accomplishments, Taylor’s memoir, Heart Full of Soul: An Inspirational Memoir About Finding Your Voice and Finding Your Way (Random House), was released in July 2007.  It’s clear that Taylor Hicks continues to find his way to success, at a level that a young boy from Birmingham may not have imagined. 

 

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