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!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

American Idol Season 8 Commercial With ALL 7 Winners Showcased!

It's about friggin' time that money grubbing show that exploits vulnerable, young contestants gave it's Season 5 winner the recognition he deserved. Maybe they need to boost their continuing falling viewership by seducing his fanbase back into the fold.... or maybe they're trying to tell us that winning actually does matter and that fourth place losers such as Daughtry are not what the producers had in mind during the initial concept of the show. This caused a huge exit by a lot of fans. Fly-by-night copy-cats have a limited life-span and certainly aren't thinking long-term success. As nice as this commericial is, however, Taylor Hicks doesn't really need American Idol anymore. After all, he's had a tremendously successful year in 2008 making his mark on the Broadway stage, playing to sold out shows and starring in the National Tour of "Grease" this Winter and Spring across the country. He has also been named one of the most successful celebrities to hit the Great White Way this year. The playing field is just about level these days in that he will use the show to his advantage, as I'm sure they will use him to further their never-ending deep pockets .... take a look for yourself (thanks Skeeter for capturing this)!

Broadway Magazine Declares Taylor Hicks 'Rookie of the Year' on Broadway!

According to Broadway Magazine, Taylor Hicks was named "Rookie of the Year" on Broadway as well as coming in #6 on the 'Top Celebrities on Broadway in 2008' list! Quite an honor Mr. Hicks! I do believe that you have a second career waiting for you if you so desire (but PLEASE let us have that new album, "The Distance" first)! Enjoy!

(BROADWAY MAGAZINE) On the 11thDay of Broadway, my true love gave to me…11 Stars A-Shining. We continue our 12 Days Of Broadway celebration with Broadway Magazineand Broadway.tv with our list of the 11 Top Celebrity Turns on Broadway in 2008. Some stars shone more than others on Broadway this season, and here is our choice for 11 of the top. For purposes of this list, only one person per show, and only celebrities without a long Broadway tenure are eligible. We are defining celebrity as those who are largely famous for work in medium other than the stage. Our apologies to Liza Minnelli, who tops most anyone’s Broadway list this season.

1. Diane Wiest in All My Sons.Katie Holmes got the headlines, but Weist is completely fascinating to behold. She is our favorite celebrity on Broadway this season. John Lithgow, Patrick Wilson, Katie Holmes and the entire ensemble have made this production of Arthur Miller’s play one of the must-see dramas of the season.

2. Kristin Scott Thomas in The Seagull. She helped make Chekhov profitable on Broadway. A selfless star who was not afraid to show the selfish side of a complex iconic character. We have three words for Ms. Thomas and producers as they consider her next stage project-The Cherry Orchard!

3. Daniel Radcliffe in Equus.A dark play, but a totally committed performance from a star who seems to have the DNA of the great British stage stars of the past. Richard Griffiths and Kate Mulgrew are also more than exceptional.

4. Laurence Fishburne in Thurgood.With depth and nuance, Fishburne brought a judicial titan to life.

5. Clay Aiken in Spamalot. The new father may have made headlines with his outing, but he still is making audiences laugh with his sense of humor. Surely there are other musicals that would fit him like a glove.

6. Taylor Hicks in Grease. Soul Patrol fans and Broadway fans unite in cheering the good-natured and smooth singing soul stylist as he transitions from American Idol to Broadway’s Rookie-of-the-year.

7. Cedric The Entertainer in American Buffalo. A short run, but a bright future for Cedric on Broadway in the right vehicle…if he gets over his anger at Ben Brantley of The New York Times. Tony nomination for featured actor?

8. Marisa Tomei in Top Girls.This was a great production of a difficult play. Tomei was absolutely fascinating as the Scottish explorer who had ailments, passions, and liked the bread plate. Her change to the contemporary mother was equally solid.

9. Elisabeth Moss in Speed-The-Plow.Please stay away from the sushi, Ms. Moss. While the departed Jeremy Piven walked in and out as the headliner of this Mamet revival, Moss has left audiences wanting to see the AMC Mad Men star in other roles on-stage.

10. S. Epatha Merkerson from Come Back, Little Sheba. The star of Law and Order was riveting as Lola in William Inge’s haunting play.

11. Patrick Stewart in Macbeth. While he has a substantial Broadway resume, we’ve broken our own rule to include Stewart for his entertaining and soulful portrayal of Shakespeare’s Scottish King. So much blood!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Making of a Timeless Record, According to Taylor Hicks

Taylor Hicks gave a few more minor details about his forthcoming album in this new interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A good read if you can get beyond the unnecessary crap in the first sentence. Some things never change I guess...

"...Winning "American Idol" doesn't guarantee a successful recording career. Taylor Hicks, the 2006 champ, can't match the CD sales of Chris Daughtry or Kellie Pickler, whom TV viewers rejected that season. But the "Idol" title does open doors, and Hicks is proving to be a careerist.

After parting company with J Records, he took the role of Teen Angel in "Grease" on Broadway in June. This month, he began a six-month road tour with the show that will bring him to the Twin Cities next weekend. During the tour, he will play an occasional club to promote his forthcoming album, "The Distance," due in March on his own label, Modern Whomp. He is previewing his new, untitled single during "Grease" as sort of a curtain-call encore.

Q Why are you performing only the last three days of the Minneapolis engagement?

A I'm gearing up for my new record. I previously booked [some gigs] and the mixing of the record.

Q How have you Taylor-made the part of Teen Angel?

A I took the song and made it fit my style more, with the arranging of some horn parts and also adding harmonica. The costume has a Taylor flair to it, to say the least.

Q What does your famous hair look like in "Grease"?

A Let's just say it's definitely a 1950s look.

Q Tell me about your new album.

A I'm really excited about it. There are some really great story songs on the record. I co-wrote most of the material. Doyle Bramhall plays guitar, Nathan East plays bass, Abe Laboriel Jr. plays drums. My producer is Simon Climie; he's done a lot of Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale records. I wanted somebody who could help me create a timeless record. The album is a great representation of who I am as an artist right now, and that's all I can ask for.

Q Do you keep up with our "Idol" homegirl Paris Bennett?

A I do. I think the world of her. I think she's a wonderful singer. She has a natural ability to perform and sing. I hope I get to see her when I come there.

Q Are you happy with your career path?

A I couldn't be happier. For me, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The longevity aspect to me is the most important. Doing Broadway theater and looking at movie roles and writing music and putting out CDs -- you have to be well-rounded if you want longevity in a career..."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Global Pop Sensations: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood & Taylor Hicks

Famemagazine and StreetBrand.Com out of the UK says, "....Now in its eighth incarnation, the show that has spawned global pop sensations such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks, starts its search across America to find this year’s bright young star to be crowned the next American Idol...."

It is possible that the British fans have better taste in music and a thirst for real talent that we do in America? Perhaps so.... I mean, they did produce The Beatles..... and Davy Jones - what more can you ask for? Now don't snicker about Jones... when you talk about "Idols", he has to be the greatest of them all. He had cuteness factor, great hair, perfect teeth and an accent to die for....

Here's a great accupela number by Davy and his co-horts called "Riu Chi" from The Monkees TV show, an old Spanish Christmas song to celebrate the season... Happy Holidays to all Soul Thing readers!

And from 1986 - A Christmas Medley from The Monkees and MTV (when MTV was actually good)...

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Tour Dates for Taylor Hicks Leads Up To His New Album's Release!

For those fans who are out of the loop, here's you chance to purchase tickets to Taylor's intimate club tour leading up to the new album's release on March 10, 2009. If you live in or around the Annapolis MD, Oakley OH or Chicago, IL area, break open that wallet and catch him sing his brand new music! It may be your only chance to catch him in such a small venue since he'll be touring larger venues after the album's release.

The three stops so far are:

Martyrs: Chicago, IL, $40, January 17, 2009
Tickets on Sale Now @ Ticketmaster, w/special guest TBA

20th Century Theater: Oakley, OH, $25, January 24, 2009
Tickets on Sale @ Ticketmaster on Dec. 20, 2008 @ 10:00am

Rams Head: Annapolis, MD, $35, Feb 7, 2009
Tickets On Sale Now @ Pollstar. Tickets going fast, so get yours while you can!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

AllMusic's Review of Taylor Hick's "Early Works" CD

ALL-MUSIC Guide recently posted their official review of Taylor's "Early Works" CD. They gave a very fair and positive review which should attract folks reading about the album for the first time (3 1/2 stars out of 5). I loved the way he sensed a Stephen Stills/Van Morrison feel to a few of the songs. He calls the songs "sweet, folky singer/songwriter pop". I have a feeling Taylor's new album will be more in this vein than the first one on Arista. Taylor's music is *real* with *real instruments* - not synthesized prefabricated beats. A big thanks to Stephen Thomas Erlewine who reviewed this album without the obligatory comparison to anyone else. That really gets old and is completely unnecessary. Here is a fresh, clean opinion sans any comparisons. How nice. You can read it on their website, or I brought it over here for your convenience:

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Officially released on CD late in 2008, long after his American Idol spotlight dimmed so dark he lost his major-label contract, Early Works reveals that Taylor Hicks was always a working musician, a no-fuss journeyman that cranked out soulful rock & roll, the kind that always sounds pretty good in a beer ad. That isn't much of a surprise: his Idol performances and post-Idolalbum suggested that he could always crank songs like "Soul Thing" and the softer "The Deal," a
Bob Seger-styled midtempo number that surfaced on his major-label effort and is here in an early incarnation that isn't that much different. What's surprising about Early Works is its strain of sweet, folky singer/songwriter pop, halfway between Van Morrison and Stephen Stills. Most of the record is in this vein - possibly because it's a sound that's easier to market than the soul-rock that made his name - and while it's just as classic rock in its own way as the barroom blues boogie that brought him fame, it does suggest a depth not quite heard in his Idol-era performances. It's still journeyman stuff - music marked by its dogged devotion not divine spark - but it's well-done, heartfelt and endearing, sounding like the work of a local boy made good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Taylor Hicks: "Stirring Voice and Charming Presence" as the Teen Angel in 'Grease"

Very nice review for Taylor and the cast of Grease from the Columbus Dispatch! I'll g'head and re-print the entire review, but I highlighted his awesome commentary of Taylor's performance! I think it's safe to say he's as much of a smash on the road as he was on the Broadway stage. Perhaps Taylor does have a second career in musical theater! Time will tell... in the meantime, enjoy this review by Michael Grossberg.

"...Smooth and slick and fun but emotionally as deep as a 1950s crew-cut, the new Grease lives up to its title in too many ways.

The more-youthful casting works up to a point in the peppy Broadway tour, which opened yesterday at the Palace Theatre.

The performers certainly sing and dance well, reflecting the spirit of vibrant but insecure adolescence. Yet, the acting mostly ranges from the generic to the cartoonish.

Director Kathleen Marshall makes up somewhat for the one-dimensionality when she isn't causing or allowing it with nifty choreography, brisk pacing and elegant scene transitions.

As disc jockey Vince Fontaine, Dominic Fortuna leads a pre-show with wisecracks, a sing-along and hand waving designed to set the mood and capitalize on aging boomers' palpable desire to fall in love again with a favorite musical about idealized high-school rites of passage.

Such expectations falter a bit as the two-act show progresses, buoyed here and there by the energetic reprise of Summer Nights, Greased Lightning, We Go Together, Born to Hand-Jive and a few other golden sequences.

Even those great songs are undercut by a blaring oldies-rock orchestration that occasionally obscures lyrics. That may especially irritate those who walk in without already knowing all the words (but for the baby-boomer generation, who doesn't?).

While the 1978 movie was a star vehicle partly because of the many close-ups on John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and Stockard Channing (the definitive Rizzo, much missed onstage) the stage version always was more of an ensemble piece.

Without the star quality needed to add personality and nuance to their roles, the young actors playing the leads tend to approach individuality only during their solos such as Sandy (by Eric Schneider as greaser Danny), Hopelessly Devoted to You (by Emily Padgett as school newcomer Sandy) and There Are Worse Things I Could Do (by Allie Schulz as tough-but-tender Rizzo)

A pleasant exception: David Ruffin, whose sensitivity as Kenickie can be felt throughout his scenes.

Predictably, the strength of this tour, which reflects the movie more with added songs, is its ensemble and crowd scenes. Among the supporting players adding vivid humor: sweet but hapless Frenchy (Kate Morgan Chadwick), gawky Doody (Brian Crum), nerdy Eugene (Scot Patrick Allan) and Miss Lynch (Roxy Lucas).

Taylor Hicks, an American Idol winner, seizes his magical moment. As Teen Angel, he sings Beauty School Dropout with a stirring voice and charming presence that nods with a few grins to his celebrity. Others may prefer the golden-oldie singers who filled the role on film or previous tours, but Hicks gets my vote.

The candy-colored design and glow of idealized nostalgia extends through Derek McLane's scenery, Martin Pakledinaz's costumes and Kenneth Posner's lighting.

Many fans will walk into this revival wanting to like it more than they will when they leave. Even so, the songs are such catchy favorites that just about everyone should have a good-enough time..."

Taylor Hicks on Mix 97.1 in Columbus, OH

Taylor made a stop at the Mix 97.1 studios this morning in Columbus, OH, the third stop in the national tour of Grease. Lots of fun talk and great info from Taylor - charming - and handsome as ever, according to both the female and male DJs! Seems the new CD is pushed back to March 10 due to a delay in the mixing, but the good news is that he would be on Idol this coming year, hopefully in conjuction with the promotion of the CD. I'd also like to see how the delayed release of the CD will affect the days he took off from "Grease" in the beginning of February to promote it.

And just a plea for those fans who are angsting about the 4-week pushback of the CD, please relax. This stuff happens all the time and it will get released when every button is tweaked & every knob is pushed to Taylor's satisfaction. It WILL be an unparalleled CD and well worth the wait.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Tour Dates for Taylor Hicks Leads Up To His New Album's Release!

For those fans who are out of the loop, here's you chance to purchase tickets to Taylor's intimate club tour leading up to the new album's release on February 10, 2009. If you live in or around the Annapolis MD or Chicago, IL area, break open that wallet and catch him sing his brand new music! It may be your only chance to catch him in such a small venue since he'll be touring larger venues after the album's release.

The two stops so far are:

Martyrs: Chicago, IL, $40, January 17, 2009
Tickets on Sale Now @ Ticketmaster, w/special guest TBA

Rams Head: Annapolis, MD, $35, Feb 7, 2009
Tickets On Sale Now @ Pollstar. Tickets going fast, so get yours while you can!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Impressive Respect For American Idol's Soulman

If in fact Taylor's CD cover looks like the one shown above, don't you think that it looks a bit (okay quite a bit) like the latest CD cover by fellow blue-eyed soul and legendary singer Michael McDonald? Both have that septia tone glow to them, both have that cityscape, eerie nighttime quietness to them and both artists have that sort of cold blank stare - one looking at you and the other looking down the road - and both dressed in black. It's no wonder that both albums were produced by the same guy, Simon Climie and both have almost identical session men who backed them in the studio. Those session men are mostly from Eric Clapton's current touring band and are some of the finest blues & soul musicians in the industry. Everyone from bassist Nathan East to guitarists Doyle Bramhall II and Michael Thompson; from keyboardist Toby Baker and Tim Carmen to drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., who also has played behind Paul McCartney and Sting. It is quite impressive that such an elite and prestigeous group of session men, excited to work with Taylor, were enlisted to accompany him - the winner of Season 5 of American Idol - that lone bluesman who didn't look like the typical American Idol, that young pop star who will make pre-teens part with their parents money in a hurry; that tool that will do as they are told, record what the corporate pigs say and be a true croonie for the corporation.

Nope, this winner, Taylor Hicks, has managed to break free; sort of like finding his "New Found Freedom". He has has forged his own path and is living out his dream his way, playing his music and being true to himself the way he sees fit. Taylor is earning and has earned respect from his peers, both in front of and behind the scenes the old fashion way - through years of hard work, determination, respect, and by having the gift of voice - one of the finest blues voices around today.

WXMI (Fox West Michigan) Interview With Taylor Hicks!

Here's a VERY cool interview that WXMI-Fox TV conducted with Taylor Hicks in Michigan yesterday (12/11/08). In Part 1 he talks about his role in Grease, in Part 2 the talk is about American Idol and the most interesting one, Part 3, Taylor talks about his new album ("The Distance") and how incredible it will be with all those A-List studio musicians - basically Eric Clapton's backing band! Thanks to Sturgess on the Boogie for finding these gems! Enjoy!
Why does Taylor Hicks get top billing in the musical Grease if he's only in one bit of the show? Because he's an American Idol after all.

I had a chance to talk with Taylor, and see the show at the Wharton center in East Lansing, and I left both of them feeling pretty good.
Hicks, who reprises his Broadway role of Teen Angel does a solid job following in the footsteps of legends like Donny Most and Eddie Mekka. He plays it with some self-deprecating humor and a swagger that lets the audience know that he's in on the joke.

I have to give a shout out to the cast as a whole, especially the actors who played the roles of Doody and Rump. Although neither would be mistaken for the leader of the T Birds, they both had surprisingly good singing voices, and had some of the more memorable moments as far as I'm concerned.

As far as Taylor off stage goes, I appreciated that he embraces his Idol roots, and stays true to his blues styling in his music.
And he's a big golf nut, so we had plenty to talk about off-camera. Although he's a performer comfortable with being in front of millions on TV, when he plays in some of the big celebrity golf events, or PGA pro-ams, he still gets nervous and shaky. Cool to hear him admit that, rather than putting on the brave face saying "yeah, that doesn't bother me..."

Here's to hoping the tour comes to west Michigan sometime in the spring/summer so we can try and go "On the Tee".

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Monday, December 8, 2008

GREASE, Starring Taylor Hicks Grosses Over $1.1 Million In Its First Week!

Despite a sluggish economy, Taylor Hicks is bringing people out to see the touring company of 'Grease' this winter, which started in Providence, RI on Dec. 2. According to the Providence Journal, "...the new national tour, headlining American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, is doing well at its first stop in Providence. Lynn Singleton, president of PPAC, said he expects the show to gross about $1.1 million this week, or about 10 percent better than Legally Blonde, which opened its national tour here in September.

“We’re very pleased,” said Singleton. “The market has responded well in a daunting time, and on top of that the crowds seem to love the show.”

Singleton said he expects the show to play to about 80 percent capacity before it closes in Providence tomorrow. From Providence the touring show leaves for stops in 13 other cities by the end of May...."

And, he's making believers out of just about everyone who sees the production. Jessica Braley of the Herald News put it this way:

"...Consider yourselves warned. The number of times I voted for Taylor Hicks to win “American Idol” may directly interfere with my ability to be partial when reviewing the touring production of “Grease” at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

At first, I was skeptical at the Idol winner’s ability to pull off the teen role first made famous by Frankie Avalon, but with a booming voice and a few flashes of his harmonica skills, Hicks made a believer out of me. Catching a glimpse of the star posing for pics with fans on his way into the theatre certainly helped.

Bringing a personality and a personal history to the role, Hicks delivered a shining, literally and figuratively, performance as Teen Angel and his performance of “Beauty School Dropout” was certainly one of the high points of the show. Descending from a glittering, fur-lined ice cream cone to the stage in a sequined, glittering suit complete with flashy angel wings, Hicks mesmerized Frenchy and the audience. Frenchy, played exquisitely by Kate Morgan Chadwick, snagged a few laughs when pleading with Hicks as she toyed with his open shirt, “You know ... I voted for you...”

Or how about this unsuspecting blogger who completely get turned on by Taylor's performance as Teen Angel.... check this one out ...

"...omg omg omg just saw grease at ppac.

well, saw it last night. but it hit me so hard that it feels like i just saw it.

see now i feel bad because i honestly enjoyed it, and those last two sentences make it seem like i didn't. so, to clarify, i did enjoy the performance. but what i enjoyed most was TAYLOR HICKS.

awww yeah he's too old to play any of the main characters so he played 'teen angel' and sang 'beauty school drop out' to frenchie.

and i'll be the first to tell you that i was never really big into mr. hicks, there. or american idol at that moment. but now that i saw this show? well, i will also be the first to say that he stole the show.

really, he did. good song, good acting, really enjoyed himself. of course, he has sang this song hundreds of times, but he seemed to really enjoy it. and thus, i did too...."

or Dick Upson of the Blues, Soul & Rock 'n Roll blog:

"...Hicks has a big, soothing voice that was perfect in the best doo wop fashion as Teen Angel consoles poor Frenchy that she can still "...go back to high school.." even if she is a "Beauty School Dropout..."

Or how about this from Randy Rice at BroadwayWorld.com:

"...Taylor Hicks, whom the audience adores, has a magical entrance and does a fine job as Teen Angel. While Hicks may be a draw to bring the audience into the theater, he does not rely on gimmickry. Hicks understands the campy nature of the role but approaches Teen Angel with artistic integrity. He gets to wail a few bars on his harmonica, which adds another dimension to the character..."

You GO Taylor!!!! Show the country what you got, dude!

Photo by Diane @ The Boogie!! Thanks! :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On Vacation This Week

I'm on a cruise down the western coast of Mexico, with stops in Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan, so I'm taking a break from the blog this week. I know 'Grease' opens tonight in Providence, RI and there may be reports about Taylor's new hit 'single', so I'll try and hunt down a 'puter on the boat somewhere! And they better have speakers available, cuz I'll be peeing in my pants if I can't hear it until I get back on Saturday! GAH! I can't wait to hear it...

I'm leaving you with this nice beachy picture of Taylor! Yum! Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Taylor Hicks - Sales Update

Now that we're heading into another chapter of Taylor's recording career with the release of his new CD on February 10, 2009 under his own label, "Modern Whomp Records", I'd thought I'd update everyone of the sales of the last album for JRecords. According to the World Wide Albums website, an estimate of sales worldwide of the "Taylor Hicks" album finds a very respectable and solid 803,200 to 835,232 CDs sold to date. Not bad, folks, not bad at all!