Woman's Gotta Have It
Filmed at The Workplay Theater in Birmingham, AL 9-26-09 with Ona Watson.
Song available on Taylor's new album, The Distance.
On sale now! Pick your copy today!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I love this article from the Philippine Star - We won't find the likes of Taylor on the pop charts anytime soon. Nope. Where you will find him is the hearts and souls of people who see the essence of this man. He is quite unique in this day and age - a time where the pop world is dominated by electronic and synthesized music machines. Instead, Taylor is out there doing his own thing - jamming, snapping, dancing and spreading good 'ol soul music around the world - one country at a time.

The article reads:

If we forget just how good the fifth season American Idol performers were, we need only remember three names: Elliott Yamin, Chris Daughtry and the salt-and-pepper-haired fellow who was a little more manic and a little more eager than the rest — the one who would whoop and lean a la Stevie Wonder; the one with a penchant for blowing on a harmonica every chance he got. We thought he looked a little like Jay Leno then, but my girlfriend Joyce digressed when she saw him live.

“Pogi kaya!” she said. Poor Jay. But I left it at that.

Pogi or otherwise, the ring leader of the “soul patrol” surely raked in the votes — enough to catapult him past Katharine McPhee and enough to have our unlikely hero crowned American Idol last May 24, 2006 — in front of some 34.4 million rabid TV viewers.

While we’re at it, consider that some 63.4 million people cast their vote for Taylor Hicks — the “gritty, down-home white R ’n B singer” as the AI champ. Yup, presidencies have been settled with far less votes and hoopla.

“Thank you, soul patrol!” he beams on the Hard Rock Café stage in Makati — always referring to the throngs of believers who were won over by the unassuming man with the funny manner yet and soulful — and considerable — vocal prowess.

And, make no mistake about it, Taylor is a true showman — and an original that clearly outshone McPhee who had gone for the hopelessly clichéd, sexy siren stereotype.

He saunters onto the stage, blowing on his harmonica like a judge banging on a gavel: “Hello everybody!” he says, and leans — yes that now famous lean. And just like that, we are taken by Taylor.

It’s his first time in Manila, he reveals, but reckons it won’t be the last. “I love it! I’m excited to be here. I wish I could stay here for a week. I have had a very nice time!”

Ayala Land’s Mall Group seems to have a monopoly on getting AI talents here, but who are we to complain? It wasn’t just too long ago that Yaminoys of all ages went nuts over Elliott’s tour of Ayala Malls.

For Taylor, especially, performing at the mall is certainly a fit. He professes: “I love shopping. I have to get gifts for my brother, my father, my mother, my grandmother, my cousins. Just about everybody. I guess that’s what happens when you win American Idol. You have to buy a bunch of gifts.”

Such candor is rare for usually guarded celebrities. But that’s exactly among the qualities that endeared Taylor to the world — a refreshing character that is purely about the music and rarely about being self-conscious with projections and affectations.

Which is not to say that Taylor takes success for granted. “It’s very exciting for me to be a musician and to be able to travel to places like the Philippines. I am able to share my love for music with other people. I believe that music is truly a universal language. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to come here and perform,” he shares. “Life after American Idol is like sitting on a rocket ship. It’s been great. I love what I do as a performer.”

Taylor got a taste of the vaunted Filipino hospitality upon departure from the plane: “Well, as soon as I arrived at the airport I was received very warmly by the Filipino people. I have heard from friends of mine that this is the place to come to share music,” he says.

Taylor is good friends with Elliott — who was probably a major influence in Hicks’ decision to fly to the Philippines. Someone asked in jest who would win if Taylor and Elliott would fight it out mano a mano. “Well, I would!” he gamely replies. “I would try to win!”

But seriously, Taylor takes his hat off to Elliott. He says he would have rooted for Elliott to win had he himself not joined that memorable season. Taylor also became close with Filipino contender Jose “Sway” Penala (based in San Francisco), his roommate. “He was one of the people who told me that I needed to come over here and play,” Taylor reveals.

Taylor has been polishing his chops since he was a kid of seven or eight, and is truly living a charmed life now. He is already at work on his follow-up album to his eponymously named debut effort.

“It will be coming out next year. I will also have a DVD out next year. I am pretty excited about doing another tour, maybe in the Asian continent early next year,” Taylor says. Expect lots of soul, blues and R ’n B, he avers, and also a little bit of pop. “I am trying to find the right vibe with different songwriters. I am trying to make the best album that I can.”

Of Mau (Marcelo) who participated in the Asian Idol: “She has a big, great voice. We were at rehearsal and I saw her sing. She is a great singer,” Taylor comments.

When not on, well, soul patrol, Taylor is just like the rest of us — watching sports on TV and swinging at the fairway. “I’m just a regular old guy,” he says with a smile. Well, make that a regular old guy who is rich and successful, right? And, of course, a little loopy. We like our Taylor with a little bit of weird. Like, for instance, do you know that he brings along a Ray Charles doll wherever he performs? “It makes me feel better. He was a major influence in my musical background,” he explains.

“The key is having faith, believing in yourself and navigating yourself through your art,” Taylor proffers.

At the press conference, Taylor seems bereft of any self-importance yet is brimming with obvious confidence. We note that he goes out of his way to sign autographs, sing spontaneously at most given moments, and play his harmonica while waiting for photos to be snapped. There is good reason to believe he remains the simple man from Alabama who loves music and the privilege of singing for others.

Wow, what an idol.

USE ME from the Greenbelt Philippines Concert

1 comment:

maybee said...

Great article. I especially love the part, "We like our Taylor a little be weird." He is truly an original. Can't wait for the DVD and new album!