Wade on Birmingham

EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Hicks, soul man

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EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Hicks, the latest “American Idol” hopeful from Alabama, said his soulfulness will help him stand out from the 23 other singers in the reality show competition. Producers announced the finalists Thursday.

Hicks, 29, is the second-oldest contestant this season; Mandisa (yes, one name), a songstress from Antioch, Tenn., is older by just five days, he said. That experience means Hicks may have an advantage over the others, some as young as 16.

“Considering I’ve had more years performing, playing every honky-tonk imaginable in the Southeast, that’s helped a lot,” said Hicks, by phone today from Hollywood.

He’ll compete against the other male finalists for six spots, starting Wednesday night. The women sing Tuesday, and results based on audience votes are on Thursday. The winner will be crowned May 24.

The Birmingham native has played local clubs as well as the area’s biggest music festival, City Stages, in 2005.

Describing his sound as pop-soul, he singles out fellow Birmingham singer Ruben Studdard as his favorite from seasons past. Studdard, who won the title in 2003, “was one of the most soulful contestants on the show,” Hicks said.

And unlike Bo Bice, Huntsville native and 2005 runner-up, Hicks said his sound is more soul and blues than rock. It’s not only what separates him from Bice, but also from the other finalists this year.

Heart of soul

“Everyone is unique,” he said of the contestants, describing his own unique quality as “a soul performer. If you listen to the heart of soul, from Otis Redding to Sam Cooke, there’s an art to that,” mentioning that Redding’s performance of “Try a Little Tenderness” had to be seen as well as heard to be fully appreciated.

Unlike several “Idol” contestants past or present, he said he has no skeletons in the closet, joking, “Literally speaking, my closet back home might be like a musician’s closet: dirty.”

As for his chances, Hicks is clear: “I’m overjoyed; I’m living the dream 100 percent.

“I have to be positive and confident to have a shot to win ‘American Idol.’ If I didn’t say that, I’d be selling myself short. I’ve got to think positive and say, ‘No. 1, baby!’ ”

‘Wait till Simon Cowell hears me live …’

Is talent enough? In a published report Thursday, notorious judge Simon Cowell said, “You’re not going to find 12 amazing singers this year, but you’re going to get 12 characters … It’s a real sort of chocolate box of talent — or lack thereof.”

Hicks, in response, described himself as “a soulful singing character.

“Wait till (Cowell) hears me live. Don’t jump to conclusions. What was it your mom used to say? Listen before you speak.”

Given the choice, Hicks said he would cover … “Sweet Home Alabama,” quickly adding, “Just kidding.”

“There’s so many great songs. You’re talking about the whole spectrum of music.

“I’d pick ‘Just the Two of Us’ by Bill Withers. It takes you back to the soul AM radio days. I really like that style of music.”

Hicks also listens to R&B, hip-hop and country, citing favorites such as Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Chesney and Montgomery-based Dirty South rapper Deuce Komradz.

His colorful musical choices aren’t unlike his colorful stage presence. Fans have posted — adoringly and disparagingly — about his salt-and-pepper hair and his harmonica.

He’s in the music business — claiming to have been singing since he could crawl — to “make people happy.” He added that “you really gotta love the music, to really want to play it and perform it, even when you’re in a valley. (A career) is ups and downs.

“That’s what the business is all about. (“Idol” is) almost a crash course in show business, for some of us. Some of us have been working in our craft (a long time).”

Hicks’ three-month campaign begins next week. And he already has a slogan.

“Vote for the soul man!”

“American Idol” airs at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays on Fox 6 (with a special airing 7 p.m. Thursday).

• • •

Read more on Taylor Hicks.

18 Yips for “EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Hicks, soul man”

  1. Mike J
    Friday, February 17, 2006, 7:28 pm
    1

    Awesome exclusive man, can host it on http://taylorhicks2006.com ?

    I’m going to link, if that’s a problme let me know.

    M.R.

  2. Wade
    Friday, February 17, 2006, 9:05 pm
    2

    Absolutely. And thanks!

  3. jake
    Tuesday, February 21, 2006, 12:02 am
    3

    its been a long time coming but i know a change gon’ come

  4. Ginny
    Monday, February 27, 2006, 12:14 pm
    4

    I never thought there would be an Idol I’d want to hug more than Ruben. I so heart Taylor.

  5. Wade
    Monday, February 27, 2006, 10:14 pm
    5

    So that’s why Ruben called me in tears …

  6. gloria
    Thursday, March 2, 2006, 10:57 pm
    6

    HE IS ALREADY MY AMERICAN IDOL.

    http://groups.myspace.com/TAYLORHICKSISOURAMERICANIDOL

  7. bamadebbie@aol.com
    Friday, March 3, 2006, 12:54 am
    7

    i am from the birmingham area but live in panama city,florida now and just want u to know that i absolutely love taylor!!!!! he will win this thing and i a rooting all the way! by the way,i want him to meet my dayghter,she will be 29 on saturday,march 4th and loves him also,shes single and wants to meet him asmuch as i do!!!!!!!! GO TAYLOR!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!love,bamadebbie

  8. SHANNAH
    Tuesday, March 7, 2006, 8:09 am
    8

    Not ONE contestant can hold a candle to Taylor. He is soulful and adorable!
    The salt and pepper hair just adds to his appeal. I have depleted my texts for 2 months just voting for him!

    Taylor, I am so single!!!!!!!

  9. Paula
    Wednesday, March 8, 2006, 8:51 pm
    9

    Taylor is the most soulful i’ve ever heard in on the AI show,and i’ve
    never seen anyone but Fantasia put more heart and soul in to perfoming in each and every performance.Thanks Taylor for all the enjoyment you give each and every time

  10. Big Mama
    Friday, March 10, 2006, 8:40 am
    10

    I cant help but wonder just what Taylor would sound like singing in the shower………even Big Mamas have feelings!

  11. Sueann
    Friday, March 10, 2006, 6:09 pm
    11

    I have watched AI since it’s conception. NEVER have I been this excited about a contestant! Taylor Hicks is unique, talented, soulful and puts so much into every performance. Hang that AI 2006 ribbon on that BAMA boy NOW! WHOOO HOOOO

  12. May Pinette
    Wednesday, April 5, 2006, 10:33 pm
    12

    I don’t know what it is about Taylor Hicks, but I love watching and listening to him. He definitely has something unique! He just tugs at the heart. He makes American Idol ROCK!!!!!

  13. Paula K
    Thursday, April 6, 2006, 3:40 pm
    13

    I LOVE Taylor. I was hoping this week he would’ve done Sweet Home Alabama. Next week is Queen week. I think he should sing Somebody to Love.

  14. MJ
    Thursday, April 20, 2006, 2:37 am
    14

    It’s not just because Taylor is from Alabama (sure doesn’t hurt!), but, as most of you have said, he has IT. His voice has a sweetness, a yearning sound to it. He’s so much fun to watch!

    I have taped every IDOL this season and ALWAYS replay and listen to Taylor sing over and over again. He’s a woman’s kind of man. His version of “You Send Me” was absolutely romanatic, yet full of fire, just wonderful and his version touched my heart. He’s exciting, unique and a very fine singer and performer. I am pulling for him along with my mother! We think Taylor is an incrediably talented man, he’s just the best. Here’s to Taylor going ALL the way as the winner of this year’s IDOL. GO TAYLOR!!!!!!!

  15. Steve Howard
    Monday, April 24, 2006, 7:41 am
    15

    Hi there, I have written a song for Taylor with Alabama in the title and it even mentions Birmingham in the chorus!!! I know the record company and management but I want taylor or his family to hear this first, because I know Taylor is gonna love it when he hears it – and Birmingham wants a song with its name in the chorus right??

  16. Stacey Kenyon
    Friday, May 12, 2006, 3:47 pm
    16

    I am beyond belief. Taylor is hard to look at with those catepillar eyebrows and that old man hair. He looks like he is 40! I thought American Idol was supposed to appeal to teenagers and 20 somethings. Why do you all find this guy attractive? I can’t even look at him when he is on. He dances like he has cerebal palsy. He has a huge head. He looks freaky to me. I think he has a voice for radio but it sure is hard looking at him. I know I am in the minority but, whew, he is corny with all the “Whoo-ing” and leaning trying to be like Joe Cocker.

  17. Sharmane
    Saturday, May 20, 2006, 10:02 am
    17

    Are you kidding me! You must be a man.taylor is the sexiest thing since elvis.now I know why my mom had a fit over elvis.im a 47yr old woman ,who thought my sex drive was over.but the soul man got my juices going again.now all I need to die happy is to have a tee shirt that he wore,to sleep in.I know the vibes from that shirt could satisfy any woman.Taylor youre a hottie. love sharmane

  18. Tweets that mention Wade on Birmingham » EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Hicks, soul man -- Topsy.com
    Thursday, February 17, 2011, 4:09 pm
    18

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wade Kwon and Paula Holcomb Reid, Megan . Megan said: RT @WadeOnTweets: 5 years ago today, I published the 1st major interview w/ American Idol contestant Taylor Hicks. http://itswa.de/g6nl0y [...]

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