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What's Up Magazine

Beyond the Music with Taylor Hicks

Nov 10, 2016 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould

Courtesy of INSP

Photos Courtesy of INSP

Stepping out in front of a judge can be a daunting task. Now imagine doing it in front of three celebrity judges…on American Idol. From the moment he stepped into that audition room, Taylor Hicks was shunned almost immediately by Simon Cowell. Little did he know that within six months of that audition, he’d garner more than 63 million votes and walk away crowned as the American Idol winner in 2006.

“It just goes to show that it really wasn’t up to Simon, it was up to the American people and I think I kind of look at it like what would Elvis do?” – Taylor Hicks

After participating in one of the most-watched TV events of the decade, this southern soulful rocker continues performing with his guitar and harmonica by his side. OnceIdol concluded, Hicks released his debut single, “Do I Make You Proud,” which entered number one on Billboard’s Hot 100, Pop 100, and Singles Sales Charts.

In 2012, Hicks joined an 18-month tour across North America to star in the hit musical Grease. From Broadway to Las Vegas, Hicks, who hails from Birmingham Alabama, most recently premiered his new food and travel show on INSP, State Plate.

Taylor Hicks will be performing at Rams Head On Stage Sunday, November 13th, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 and the event is 21 and over.

 

How did you get started in music and what ultimately made you decide to audition for American Idol?

Well you know I’ve always been a singer ever since I think I could walk but then I started to pick up a harmonica, by accident, and started learning how to play it. I then moved onto the guitar so I guess when you start out singing and then you kind of move into instruments and start writing. All signs kind of point to entertainer, so to speak.

I was actually in Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and fled the storm by taking a taxi cab 15 hours to West Monroe, Louisiana. When the storm passed, I rented a car back to Birmingham, Alabama.

I think if anyone got a free ticket to go anywhere, Vegas might be on their bucket list to go. I have never been to Las Vegas before. So, I flew on a whim, got there around midnight and my brother called me and said, “You’re not going to believe this. American Idol tryouts are in three hours.” The rest is history.


In your audition for American Idol, Simon said you should be singing backgrounds and not in the spotlight. He also mentioned that you wouldn’t make it to the live shows. Looking back now, what was it like experiencing that journey?

It changed my life forever. It just goes to show that it really wasn’t up to Simon, it was up to the American people and I think I kind of look at it like what would Elvis do? That’s kind of the approach it took to that show. I think Simon would have said the same thing about me that he would have said about Elvis.


Tell me a little bit more about taking your talent of singing to performing in a Broadway musical. What was it like being on an 18-month tour across North American?

Interestingly enough, when you come from a show like American Idol, Broadway is kind of a natural next step. You do have somewhat of a character on that show (American Idol) that you have to portray. In this particular instance, being in New York and Broadway, it was kind of a natural progression and the role was just enough. The teenager role was a perfect fit.


What was it like having your debut album reach #1 on three of the Billboard Charts?

That’s something I’m really blessed happened. I never thought I would have a number one record and obviously, idol at that time, it just goes to show how big the show was and how good the song was.


What is your approach when it comes to songwriting?

It’s either the lyrics come first or the music. It has to be a musical idea or a lyrical idea. It’s just a feeling that you get.


What song of your own do you most identify with?

There’s a brand-new song called “Six Strings Are Hard On Diamond Rings.” As much as I tour and travel, I go from state to state all the time, it can be hard and it can be tough. The touring and the entertainment business, it’s not easy, but hopefully I’ll be a stay-at-home dad sooner or later.


What would you say is your all-time favorite part about performing?

The smiles on people’s faces. You know you’ve entertained them and you know they’re having a good time. That’s the ultimate goal for your music or your venture, to entertain folks.


Your new show, State Plate, recently premiered. Have you received any feedback on the premier? If so, what’s it been like?

I heard that people love it. I think this is great feedback. Everyone I talk to wants it to be an hour long as opposed to 30 minutes, which is the ultimate feedback you can get.

 

What was the inspiration to develop a travel/food show? How have you developed the show to make it stand out from the hundreds of travel and food shows that are already established?

There’s one giant difference and that giant difference is that it talks about state foods. There is no food and travel show that discusses iconic food that comes from particular states. That’s where we differ from all the other food and travel shows.

I’ve been watching food and travel for a while and this one popped up and it was kind of the right timing. Co-Owning a barbecue restaurant and being on a restaurant front for the last 4–5 years, it was just the perfect timing to get into it.

I look at food like music. It’s very similar. Putting all the ingredients in and making something great that entertains. There’s some common threads between music and, obviously, production and food. I’m from Alabama and it’s hard to not love food. My favorite is Alabama white barbecue sauce, its spicy and twangy at the same time.


Did you ever think you would be as successful in your career as you are today?

You know, I always had the hopes that I would. I think it comes with a lot of hard work. I definitely do not shy away from working hard and traveling.

 

What are some things that you like to do in your spare time?

Scuba dive and golf. My family did it (scuba dive) a while back and I think it’s the most meditative practice on earth. It really focuses on your breathing. No pun intended. The technology of scuba diving has gotten a lot safer. It’s very easy to do and also puts the world in perspective in a very short amount of time.


What’s next for Taylor Hicks?

Sleep! Just working and touring. I love what I do and I’m very blessed to have opportunities to work hard, but I love working hard because I love my job.