Taylor Reuben Hicks (born October 7, 1976) is an American soul singer who achieved fame in 2006 as the winner of the fifth season of American Idol. Hicks got his start as a professional musician in his late teens and performed around the Southeastern United States for well over the span of a decade, during which he also released two independent albums. His energetic stage performances and influences derived from classic rock, blues, and R&B music had earned him a following of devout fans, who have been dubbed the "Soul Patrol." He has toured extensively across the United States as a solo artist, and has recently branched out into acting and TV hosting.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early Life[edit | edit source]

Taylor Hicks was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on October 7, 1976, to Bradley Hicks and Pamela Dickinson. His hair started turning gray by the time he was 14. He and his family had moved to suburban Hoover, Alabama when he was eight years old. His parents divorced, and stepmother Linda shared custody of their son until he became of age. Hicks has attributed his difficult childhood as the reason for his turning to soul and blues music for solace. He has a younger half-brother, Sean, who later convinced him to audition for American Idol.

He bought his first harmonica when he was 16, for $2 at a flea market in Bessemer, Alabama,[4] and taught himself to play blues harp. He discovered that he possessed absolute pitch when he was able to recognize the pitches of ordinary noises and mimic them on the harmonica. Hicks was 18 when he wrote his first song, "In Your Time", and he taught himself to play guitar when he was 19.

Hicks graduated from Hoover High School in 1995. He played varsity baseball, soccer, and basketball while studying in Hoover. He then pursued a major in business and journalism at Auburn University, but lost interest and dropped out after three years.

Independent Music[edit | edit source]

While in college, Hicks was part of a band called Passing Through, which he later quit to start his own band. In 1997, he independently recorded In Your Time, an album which included both studio and live tracks. In 2000, he moved to pursue a music career in Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked with Nashville veterans Billy Earl McClelland and Percy Sledge[4] to record a three-track demo but was unable to find a label that would sign him. He left Nashville after a year due to what he called the "oversaturation of the market". Hicks returned to Alabama and launched a professional music career, performing at various venues and parties mostly around the Southeastern United States, including The War Eagle Supper Club (a popular college bar) in Auburn, Alabama. Hicks has performed with the likes of James Brown, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Drive-By Truckers, Robert Randolph, Snoop Dogg,and Keb Mo. He also performed in the huge infield of Talladega Superspeedway in 2004 during a NASCAR race weekend. After Hicks won Idol, driver David Stremme said that he hoped Hicks would come back for the October race weekend there.

He recorded, produced, and released a second album, Under the Radar, in 2005. Despite releasing two albums prior to appearing on American Idol, he did not violate their requirements for contestants, as he had never held a recording contract.

After his release from Arista Records in 2008, He formed his own independent label, Modern Whomp Records, and released his next album "The Distance" in 2009. After a lengthy absence from recording, he released a single "Six Strings and Diamond Rings", with an album currently in the planning stages.

Hicks has allowed audience members to record his concerts for personal, non-commercial use, has authorized the Internet Archive to create a section for fans to upload and share their recordings. The Archive does not accept the upload of concerts recorded after January 1, 2006 due to the terms of his "American Idol" contract.

American Idol[edit | edit source]

Hicks auditioned for American Idol in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 10, 2005. Hicks passed the audition by the approval of judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, but not Simon Cowell, who said that Hicks would never make it to the final round. On Hicks' first performance for the voting public, Cowell called back to this quote, admitting he was wrong.

On the May 10, 2006, results show, Hicks along with Katharine McPhee and Elliott Yamin, were announced as the Top 3 finalists. On May 12, Idol producers brought Hicks to Birmingham for a weekend of promotional events including television interviews for the local FOX affiliate, a downtown parade, concerts, and an audience with Governor Bob Riley. May 12 was proclaimed "Taylor Hicks Day" and Hicks was given the key to the city. Also on May 12, Gov. Riley issued a proclamation making May 16 "Taylor Hicks Day".

Hicks was named the new American Idol on May 24, 2006, winning the title over McPhee, with over 63.4 million votes cast in total. The proclamation was aired to a worldwide audience of 200 million television viewers. With his win at age 29, Hicks became the oldest person to win American Idol. He is the first male contestant to win American Idol without ending up in the bottom two or three.

In June 2006, Ford Motor Company, the show's major sponsor, signed Hicks to promote Ford's "Drive on Us" year-end sales event. He was also named Hottest Bachelor by People magazine for 2006, appearing on the magazine's cover.

Performances and Results[edit | edit source]

Week # Song choice Result
Audition "A Change Is Gonna Come" Advanced
Hollywood "Ain't No Sunshine" Advanced
Top 24 (12 Men) "Levon" Advanced
Top 20 (10 Men) "Easy" Safe
Top 16 (8 Men) "Takin' It to the Streets" Safe
Top 12 "Living for the City" Safe
Top 11 "Not Fade Away" Safe
Top 10 "Trouble" Safe
Top 9 "Take Me Home, Country Roads" Safe
Top 8 "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" Safe
Top 7 "You Send Me" Safe
Top 6 "Just Once" Safe
Top 5 "Play That Funky Music"
Top 4 "Jailhouse Rock"
"In the Ghetto"
Top 3 "Dancing in the Dark"
"You Are So Beautiful"
"Try a Little Tenderness" a Thing"
Finale "Living for the City"
"Do I Make You Proud? (Taylor Hicks song)|"Do I Make You Proud?"


Post-Idol Career[edit | edit source]

Hicks signed a recording contract with 19 Recordings Limited/Arista Records, managed by American Idol creator Simon Fuller, in May 2006. Hicks' debut single "Do I Make You Proud" debuted on the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and was subsequently certified gold by the RIAA.

Hicks made guest appearances in concerts by Snoop Dogg, Widespread Panic, and Willie Nelson, among others. Hicks also joined his fellow Top 10 Idol finalists on the American Idols LIVE! Tour which ran from July to September. The members of the former Taylor Hicks Band, formed by Hicks two years prior, regrouped as the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra and shadowed the Idols' tour route. Hicks occasionally appeared as a "special guest" when circumstances permitted, and was even accompanied at times by the other Idols, such as Elliott Yamin, Chris Daughtry, Ace Young, and Bucky Covington.

In August 2006, Hicks' lawyers sued a producer with whom he worked in Nashville, for redistributing without permission songs that Hicks had copyrighted in 1997. The lawsuit was dropped when the masters were handed over to Hicks.

In the same month, it was announced that Hicks received a $750,000 (USD) deal to write a memoir of his life. Titled Heart Full of Soul: An Inspirational Memoir About Finding Your Voice and Finding Your Way and ghostwritten by Rolling Stone writer David Wild, the book was released in July 2007 by Random House.

2006-2007: Taylor Hicks[edit | edit source]

Studio recording sessions for the eponymous major label debut Taylor Hicks ran in Calabasas, California between October and November 2006, and took six weeks in total. The album was released on December 12, 2006 and debuted at the number two spot on the Billboard 200 charts. It was certified as a platinum album by the RIAA on January 17, 2007.

Hicks embarked on a three-month US promotional tour for his album that started on February 21 in Jacksonville, Florida, and ended in Seattle, Washington on May 12. On December 16, 2007, Hicks performed "Do I Make You Proud" live together with 6 Asian Idol finalists in Jakarta Indonesia. Hicks also performed on the American Idol (season 6) finale at the Kodak Theatre on May 23, 2007. Hicks released a full length concert video from this tour, called "Whomp At The Warfield", which aired on HDNET.

2008: Early Works[edit | edit source]

Despite winning American Idol 2006, Hicks' post Idol career had its ups and downs. Arista Records confirmed in January 2008 that it had dropped Hicks from its roster. J records, a subsidiary of Sony BMG, also announced that they were releasing Hicks from his recording contract.

Early January, Taylor Hicks made this statement on his Myspace page:

“ "To all my fans and The Soul Patrol, I want to take a moment to talk about the recent news that my label and I have mutually parted ways. The important thing for all of you to remember is that I've been a working musician my whole life. This is turning the page on a new chapter of my career. Artistic freedom and control is an exciting prospect. The things that are most important to me is creating my art, performing it, and my fans. With the momentum that all of you have created over the years, Taylor Hicks is not going to stop anytime soon. I've started working on the new album, writing and scheduling exciting collaborations. The DVD, Whomp at the Warfield, is in its final stages, and will be released soon. So as one door closes, a new one opens for 2008 with more excitement for all my fans than ever before. Sit tight, because the best is yet to come!" ”

As of June 2008, Hicks has signed a distribution deal with Vanguard/Welk records to distribute a compilation album "Early Works". Early Works was released on August 12, 2008.

Hicks was the first Idol winner to play a residency in Las Vegas, playing at Bally's Casino in 2012, which was later moved to Paris Casino.

Acting and Television[edit | edit source]

In 2008, Hicks played the role of Teen Angel in the Broadway revival of GREASE, which eventually took him on a national tour extending into 2010. He has made numerous appearances on TV including The Choice, Celebrity Ghost Stories, and Law & Order SVU. For three seasons, he hosted the food and travel show "State Plate". In 2019, he returned to the stage to star as Charlie Anderson in Serenbe Playhouse's production of Shenandoah. In 2020, he made a cameo appearance in the movies "Stars Fell On Alabama" and "Upstream With Jimmy Dallas". 

Soul Patrol[edit | edit source]

Hicks's fanbase has been dubbed the "Soul Patrol". The phrase started among his Internet fan base after the episode of Hicks's Idol auditions aired, but it is difficult to trace its exact origin. Hicks frequently mentioned the Soul Patrol after performances on Idol, which was best shown after winning the competition—Ryan Seacrest asked if he had any parting words and Hicks yelled, "Soul Patrol!".

During a promotional event for Idol in Alabama, Hicks "inducted" Governor Bob Riley and his wife into the Soul Patrol. In addition to zealously following the musical career of Taylor Hicks and related artists, the Soul Patrol is also known for its charity work on behalf of various organizations such as Studio By The Tracks, Kid One Transport, Habitat for Humanity, and American Red Cross among others. The first Soul Patrol Convention was organized in Birmingham, Alabama, USA on May 9th and 10th, 2008, with event proceeds earmarked for Kid One Transport. The Soul Patrol was represented from all over the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Popular Culture[edit | edit source]

Hicks became the subject of two Weekend Update skits on NBC's Saturday Night Live on April 15 and May 20, 2006, portrayed by cast member Jason Sudeikis. In a reference to Hicks's quirkiness and disposition, Sudeikis mocked playing Hicks's trademark harmonica and repeatedly shouted out "Soul Patrol!" Hicks, when interviewed by Ryan Seacrest on the subsequent episode of American Idol on April 18, 2006, as to whether or not he saw the imitation, admitted that he had and that the impression made him "fall out on the floor" with laughter.

"Weird Al" Yankovic parodied Hicks on his 2006 album, Straight Outta Lynwood, on a track called "Do I Creep You Out", which is set against the melody of "Do I Make You Proud". In the music video of the song, an animated Hicks, voiced by Yankovic, is portrayed as the stalker. The video can be seen on JibJab.[44] Hicks is also known to perform Yankovic's version during soundchecks.

Talk show host Jay Leno frequently refers to Hicks as "his son" due to their striking gray-haired resemblance. Seacrest has also mentioned on American Idol that Hicks resembles Leno, Phil Donahue and George Clooney.

Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, had also promised to give political pundit Bill O'Reilly a copy of "Do I Make You Proud" upon O'Reilly's appearance on the show on January 18, 2007.

On the television sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, in the episode titled "The Real Thing", Christine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, mentions that she has an imaginary relationship with Taylor Hicks.

Official Account[edit | edit source]

Discography[edit | edit source]

  • Taylor Hicks (2006)
  • Early Works (2008)
  • The Distance (2009)

Season 5
Taylor Hicks  · Katharine McPhee  · Elliott Yamin  · Chris Daughtry  · Paris Bennett  · Kellie Pickler  · Ace Young  · Bucky Covington  · Mandisa  · Lisa Tucker  · Kevin Covais  · Melissa McGhee
Gedeon McKinney  · Ayla Brown  · Will Makar  · Kinnik Sky  · Jose "Sway" Penala  · David Radford  · Heather Cox  · Brenna Gethers  · Patrick Hall  · Stevie Scott  · Bobby Bennett  · Becky O'Donohue
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