Niagara Gazette


August 30, 2007

BACKSTAGE PASS: From Alabama's bars to America's 'Idol'

Like any “American Idol” winner, Taylor Hicks has seen his life and career change in monumental ways in just a matter of months.

For more than a decade, he was just trying to carve out some semblance of a career as a working musician around his Alabama home base. Now Hicks is one of America’s best-known new artists, with a self-titled CD that has sold more than 1 million copies, appearances on magazine covers and even the designation from People magazine as America’s hottest bachelor to his credit.

Yet Hicks seems to have had a smooth transition into the spotlight, and he gives his years as a struggling musician much of the credit for enabling him to helping him deal with his newfound fame.

“When you go 20 years of your life dreaming about this, those minivan rides at night on the back roads of Alabama allow you to implement the vision you’ve always had when it actually materializes,” Hicks said in a recent phone interview. “For me it’s really been a blessing. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be able to implement my vision as a child, and it’s allowed me to handle this situation a whole lot easier.”

Born in Birmingham, Ala., on Oct. 7, 1976, Hicks was drawn early on to the soul music of artists like Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, and as a youth discovered his voice had the true pitch to sing.

By high school, Hicks was in a band, and soon after entering college, he had released his first CD, “In Your Time.”

Along the way, he got to open shows for such notable artists as Tom Petty, James Brown, Keb’ Mo’ and Jackson Browne. But most of the time, Hicks scratched out a living playing bars, beach clubs, VFWs, and other venues around Alabama and the Southeast.

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