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 26, 2007
Taylor Hicks: Proud To Be A Musician, To Play Music For A Living
As a child of divorced parents, recent Manila visitor Taylor Hicks found solace in music. He fell hard for black artists; getting to watch them in concert convinced him that he should follow their lead.
For 10 years, Hicks toiled as a professional singer, making the rounds of bars and clubs (even parties) around the southeastern states, including those near his hometown, Alabama.
Though he wasn’t signed to any label, he already had two albums—“In Your Time” and “Under the Radar”—both self-produced, prior to his self-titled major label (Arista/Sony BMG) debut which came after he became the 2006 American Idol.
Despite worldwide attention following his triumph, Hicks remains grounded and doesn’t mind being referred to as the oldest or least likely-looking Idol. What he’s most proud of, simply, is being a musician.
How did your parents’ divorce affect you?
Any child who goes through a divorce has to find a happy place. For me, music was that happy place. It became my passion and outlet for my feelings.
How did you find the music that you love?
I first heard Sam Cooke and Ray Charles on the radio, in a program called AM Gold.
Was there a conscious effort to emulate these influences?
Yeah, but once you hear all these great artists and musicians, you want to recreate something for yourself. That’s when you try to take off and create your own music.
What was the biggest difference between your first two independent albums and the major label debut?
The first two were my music, songs that I’ve written. The third had other songwriters and producers. That was a great learning experience which helped me become a better recording artist.
How do you rate the first two albums?
I think the first one definitely needed some work. The second one was the better attempt. And the third was me understanding what it was like to have a bigger production.
You described the third album as organic.
What I tried to accomplish was take some of the organic influences and cross them over with pop sensibilities. I think I got a good shot at it.
What band or solo artist, do you think, has been very influential these past few years?
I think Norah Jones brought us back down to earth commercially with “Don’t Know Why.” It allowed songwriters and people with pure musical talents to be heard on radio, as opposed to the more “produced” sounds. For me, personally, it’s Ray La Montaigne. He’s a great soul singer.
Do you remember watching a concert that changed your life?
I was 6 or 7 when I saw Lionel Richie and Tina Turner in concert. Seeing those two performers, right off the bat, didn’t hurt anything.
You look more fashionable now. Do you have a stylist?
I go shopping and comb my hair just like everybody else. But you know what? I take that back, ’cause very little do I comb my hair, although I put gel in it.
Have you ever thought of dyeing your salt-and-pepper hair?
No. I would be scared to [do that] because nobody would know who I am.
What if it all turns white?
Then I may have to reconsider.
You were referred to as the oldest American Idol in the early part of the contest. Did that affect you?
You could say I was the oldest and the wisest! I knew it was up to America to vote. Some of the judges’ comments, I just let them roll off my back.
Clive Davis (record company boss) signed up Chris Daughtry (2007 AI fourth placer) even earlier than you.
Chris deserves all that. He’s a rock singer and songwriter. Considering how popular rock music is right now, that’s a no-brainer.
Before AI, you spent time in Nashville pursuing your music career, although it didn’t pan out.
I was trying to make it for 10 years. I did everything possible and created every opportunity just to make it. I thought Nashville was a good place for me, at the time, to be heard. It taught me a lot about myself.
Are you proud to be called a white soul/R&B singer?
I’m just proud to be a musician, to play music for a living.
How do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Completely white hair. But hopefully still playing music, touring, maybe sitting here with you for another interview.