Plato said, “The measure of a man is what he does with power.”
Samuel Johnson said, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Plato and Johnson speak of the measure of a man who has power (or fame) at his disposal as well as the ability to help those who can not benefit him in return. The two quotes can be combined to show the measure of a man in Taylor Hicks. First, as Taylor was winding up the whirl wind tour of the top 10 American Idol contestants in the summer of 2006, he took time out to sign some items that were being donated to raise money for various charities.
A group of Texas Taylor Hicks fans formed Soul Patrol Relief and held a raffle for a signed guitar at the Antonnes after party when the American Idol Tour stopped in Austin, Texas. Taylor had signed the guitar upon arriving for the after party, and the winning ticket holder would take home a prized possession. Another item of the evening announced a signed harmonica to be auctioned on eBay for the benefit of Kid One Transport in Birmingham, Alabama.
There was the beautiful guitar signed by Taylor Hicks, the members of Little Memphis Blues Orchestra, Ace Young and Chris Daughtry that was auctioned at The Woodlands after party following the final concert in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. If you were there, you know about the dramatic bidding that took place! Proceeds were to benefit the Janet Weiss Children’s Hospital in nearby Danville, Pennsylvania.
Then there was the Blue Gill event in Daphne, Alabama, held by a group of Southern fans as part of the Kid One drive of hosting friends and family dinners to raise money for the charity. Instead, this one group held an all-out, come-as-your-are party at a local eatery for anyone able and willing to attend. And attend they did! Items auctioned that evening included a signed guitar, a leather motorcycle jacket, CDs, and harmonicas. Some items were only signed by Taylor Hicks while other items included the members of The Little Memphis Blues Orchestra or Elliott Yamin’s autograph.
With Taylor Hicks’ 30th birthday just days away from the end of the American Idol tour, Taylor had requested that instead of gifts and cards that donations be made to Kid One in honor of his birthday. Many fans came together to make this drive successful. It was the birthday drive which enabled Kid One to realize donations from all the different fan-based activities reach its goal of raising over $30,000 in honor of Taylor turning 30 himself!
With little fanfare, other signed guitars were auctioned on eBay for the benefit of Lili Claire Foundation and the Gibson Guitar Foundation. The Lili Claire Foundation provides programs and support for children with neurogenetic disorders such as autism and Downs Syndrome.
Somewhere along the way, fans came together to form other charities that have provided great service for not only Kid One, but also Studio by the Tracks another Birmingham area charity that benefits autistic children and adults to help them develop an artistic outlet.
Kid One Patrol of Soul is best known for their cookbooks, holiday ornaments and calendars, the sales of which benefit Kid One. Their current drives include the sale a 2008 calendar and collecting Beanie Babies to provide the children that Kid One services which a Christmas gift. Visit www.kidonepatrolofsoul.com for more information.
Bluzkat has helped raise funds through auctions of tour memorabilia where the proceeds of a tambourine benefited Kid One Transport and the cowbell proceeds benefited the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Their current drive is the sale of a coloring book with proceeds to benefit the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Visit www.bluzkat.com/NOMRFCB.htm for more information.
Taylor’s Angels has helped fans and charities alike. From matching donors to recipients with memberships to Taylor Hicks Headquarters and concerts tickets to contacting promoters to donate tickets to local charities, these ladies have helped promote Taylor Hicks and his music. Their current drive is to help raise money for Heroes for Children, the original Taylor’s Angels, who raise money for families of children with cancer. To learn more about this group, go to www.taylorsangels.blogspot.com.
And one last thought on how Jackson’s quote applies to Taylor Hicks. Recall the many pictures of Taylor with children. I’ve had the opportunity to observe Taylor with children – he is a true caring person who gets down on his knees if necessary to look the child in the eye. He remembers special moments from past meetings. He smiles with pride as if the child were his own. It has to be innate, an inborn gift, to humble one’s self before a child, to show true compassion, to take that moment to give that gift freely. This ability alone is a great measure of a man, and one that makes Taylor’s fan love him for himself as much as for his music.
So how does King’s definition of the measure of a man fit Taylor Hicks? For nearly a year now, there have been a number of arguments surrounding the comparing of Taylor’s success to that of Chris Daughtry’s, another American Idol Season 5 contestant and peer. Taylor has repeated asked his fans not to get caught up in the numbers games, that he and Daughtry perform different types of music for which comparison can not be based, and that he is happy with the success that he, Taylor, has found and is happy that Chris, too, has found success.
I think this also is evident in one other area of Taylor’s life, and that is his love for golf. Consider the different celebrity golf games that Taylor Hicks has played both on and off the golf course – The Regions Charity Classic Golf Tournament, The Navistar LPGA, and the recent Golf Digest Celebrity Invitational. Try playing golf with a group of great golfers and see how you might rise to that challenge!
So what then, is the true measure of a man? It is the ability to use one’s power or fame for greater good, whether to lend one’s name to a charity or use one’s name for further fan generosity. It’s the ability to help others, such as children, when there’s nothing to gain from that child. And it’s the ability to stand tall in the throws of criticism and competition to say there’s room for everyone, and we each have something different to offer. And these measures of a man apply quite aptly to one Mr. Taylor Hicks.
With the holidays fast approaching, and Thanksgiving Day next week, I’d like to take the opportunity to say that I’m thankful for the music of Taylor Hicks, the opportunity to have traveled to places I’d never been before, and most importantly for the friends I’ve made this past year. And yes, to say I’m thankful for those of you who take time to read my recaps and ramblings. May the only thing overstuffed on your Thanksgiving table be the turkey, and if you have extra funds for the holiday season to check into helping the various fan-based organizations above. Happy Thanksgiving!