In the audition video that eventually propelled Taylor Hicks to become the 2006 American Idol, he tells Simon Cowell, “I want my voice heard.” Five years later, with the show on the verge of inducting another into its storied ranks, I asked Hicks if he does indeed feel heard. “I think the question is, what would [Simon] say?” Hicks said in our recent interview in New York. “I think America has already answered it. I feel blessed and thankful. I am entertaining people and helping others. That’s kind of what my mantra is.”
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…Hicks, whose latest tour will take him to Beau Rivage Casino & Resort in Biloxi this weekend, hasn’t let any grass grow under his feet either. Five years after his big win he may not have the instant name recognition as some of his other fellow winners but he is following his dream and doing what he loves and enjoys: a path he began following long before he showed up on the radar screen of national TV….
“We have found a new ‘American Idol,’ and his name is Steven Tyler,” Taylor tells me. “I enjoy the judges this year, especially Steven, who is the breath of fresh air the show needed. Now all we have to do is find the contest that gives a breath of fresh air and it’s a home run.”
Taylor Hicks is no stranger to the jamband scene. Long before he won American Idol in 2006, the 34-year-old singer/guitarist/harmonica player spent years honing his own brand of classic rock-influenced soul music on the Southeast club-circuit. An outspoken fan of jamband music, Hicks once moonlighted in a Widespread Panic cover band and was even a paid passenger on Jam Cruise in 2004—two years beforeAmerican Idol changed his life forever. Since his Idol victory, Hicks has actively tried to regain his reputation as both a high energy performer and a musician, in part through onstage collaborations with the likes of Widespread Panic, the Allman Brothers Band, Robert Randolph, Karl Denson, ekoostik hookah, Ivan Neville and many others.
Earlier this month Hicks returned to Jam Cruise as an official performer—and quickly made his presence known throughout the ship through sit ins with the likes of Widespread Panic’s JoJo Hermann, the Everyone Orchestra, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, George Porter Jr. and Maceo Parker, among others. While onboard, Hicks also sat down with Janbands.com to discuss his live music roots, recent stint with the traveling musical Grease and how Willie Nelson changed his fashion sense forever.