Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Taylor Hicks: His Trip Around the Sun

I bet with a title like this you think Taylor Hicks is about to board a spaceship for a trip around the sun! And the past couple of years may just seem like he has been skyrocketed….to stardom that is!

You see it takes 365 days and nights for our planet to make just one trip around the sun, or a year. Considering all that has happened for Taylor Hicks during his latest trip around the sun, it has been a whale of year for him. Taylor’s 32nd year on this earth has been astounding! What will come with his 33rd year?!?!?!

Back last October, just a short year ago, as Taylor was starting his 32nd trip around the sun, he was just finishing up his first solo national tour. He’d opened for Earth, Wind and Fire over the Labor Day week-end which really marked the end of the summer portion of his tour, but in October and November he was still making a few last stops. Like Millersville University where Taylor was the entertainment for their homecoming week-end.

And had Game 5 of the 2007 World Series been played, we would have seen Taylor Hicks singing our national anthem before the first ball was thrown out! Too bad the Boston Red Sox won their fourth game in a row on Sunday against the Colorado Rockies!

November was a dry month for Taylor Hicks fans – his only performance was at the Silver Star Casino in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Not knowing when Taylor might appear again, a number of Soul Patrol made the trip and the huge ballroom looked filled to capacity. Taylor did not disappoint as he was joined by former band mates, the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra and Josh Smith.

As the year was coming to a close, Taylor was still in the first quarter of his trip around the sun. December found Taylor in Indonesia and the Philippines to be exact, where he spent several days entertaining his Asian fans. As part of that trip, Taylor Hicks appeared on the final show of the season of Asian Idol where he performed a couple of songs including “Heaven Knows” from his self-titled CD and “Takin’ it to the Streets”, a song he performed during his competition on American Idol.

The end of the 2007 found Taylor Hicks in Memphis, TN singing for his dinner, and ours, at the Liberty Bowl President’s Gala the night before the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl. After his performance at the gala, Taylor was awarded the 2007 Outstanding Achievement Award, a beautiful crystal pedestal bowl. The next day, at the actual game, Mississippi State beat the University of Central Florida, 10 to 3. I may not be much of a football fan, but with Taylor Hicks as the half-time entertainment, I put on two coats, scarf, ear muff and gloves to brave the cold. It was well worth it to hear Taylor Hicks sing “Heaven Knows” and “The Runaround” while young patients from St. Jude Children’s Hospital danced on stage with him!

The New Year rolled in and in mid-January Taylor Hicks was hitting golf balls at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs, CA. I’m sure the warmer weather helped him finish thawing out from his Liberty Bowl performance in frigid Memphis! Other famous golfers included Alice Cooper, Meatloaf and Kenny G.

February, the month of love, found Taylor Hicks in the studio of Regis and Kelly where Taylor sang “The Right Place” just before the wedding of Kacy Hardenbrook and Jordan Edsall. Taylor’s fans will remember that before the originally scheduled wedding that Kacy and her two daughters were burned when the furnace in her mother’s home exploded. And they will also remember his dance with Kelly as he sang “Takin’ to the Streets“ at the reception!

Just a few days after helping the bridal couple celebrate their marriage Taylor Hicks joined the McDonald’s NBA All-Stars Celebrity basketball game in New Orleans where he suited up to shoot a few baskets. Before the game Taylor was found lending a helping hand in cleaning up and making repairs his Day of Service site. Let’s hope Taylor’s ability to use a hammer and handle a paint brush is as good as his cowbell and guitar playing!

For me, and I might guess for Taylor, the highlight of February and probably the his whole year, was being awarded the America’s Music Award at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Montgomery, AL. Taylor performed his own music, “Soul Thing” and the later joined Chris Tompkins and others to sing “Before He Cheats”. It was a night of honoring Alabama’s best and famous musical talent, from writers to performers.

March and April were light months. At the end of March Taylor Hicks performed at the Greenhills School Gala and in late April sang the National Anthem at Talladega before a NASCAR race.

As the Kentucky Derby was getting under way with parties and other festivities in early May, Taylor Hicks was spotted in his dapper suits of stripes and solid white. In retrospect, that white suit was alluding to something new and exciting about to happen!

Back home in Birmingham, Taylor Hicks lent his voice and support to Hannah Home Shelby, a shelter for abused and homeless mothers. At an undisclosed horse farm surrounded by a beautiful setting, guests dined on bar-be-que and baked beans, participated in live and silent auctions, and entertained by several bands before Taylor Hicks closed the event. With Jeff Lopez on sax and Brian Less on keyboard, Taylor Hicks with his guitar and harmonica gave a down home performance that included “Where I’m From” and “New York State of Mind” as well as “The Runaround” and “Soul Thing”.

In mid-May, on the Today Show, Taylor Hicks made surprise announcement! Taylor Hicks was heading to the Big Apple, the Great White Way, Broadway to appear in “Grease” as Teen Angel to croon “Beauty School Dropout” to Frenchie, encouraging her to return to high school and earn her degree. Beginning June 6 and ending the run on September 7, Taylor would perform eight shows a week as Teen Angel. The publicity blitz that followed was grand, and the public was able to enjoy a bit of the musical when Taylor appeared on Regis and Kelly a week after his Broadway debut!

The fireworks were plentiful as our country celebrated its birthday in style in Washington, DC. More fireworks were found on stage as Taylor Hicks helped celebrate by singing at a Capitol Fourth, televised by PBS, “Soul Thing”, “Dancing in the Dark” and “This Land is Your Land”.

Under his own Modern Whomp Records label and with an exclusive Target distribution deal, on August 12 Taylor Hicks released “Early Works”, a compilation of two early CDs that he had self-produced and distributed, “In Your Time” and “Under the Radar”. It is anticipated that the CD will be available for online purchase later in October.

As the “Grease” run was coming to a close, Taylor Hicks was saying he would be spending the next several months in a recording studio putting together his next album. After some much needed vacation time, Taylor Hicks made several wonderful and exceptional announcements.

First, he would be part of the touring cast for the national “Grease” tour, reprising his roll as Teen Angel. His time with the Broadway production had been wildly successful. Rumor has it that ticket sales experienced a $150,000 per week increase while Taylor was part of the cast! While fans were quietly and not so quietly waiting for word of a spring tour, this announcement caught them all by surprise!

By the time his 32nd birthday rolled around, Taylor Hicks had more announcements to make. On his birthday, fans received the gifts as Taylor announced that he would be releasing his next album through Artist to Market on his own Modern Whomp Records label and the drop date will be February 10, 2009! Taylor has a record deal and an album in the works!

But the best news of all was that as part of the Grease tour Taylor would be performing his new single in a new cutting edge way to market an artist and his music and Taylor Hicks was going to be part of that cutting edge! According to Taylor, about twenty minutes after the leaves the famous ice cream cone in the sky over the malt shop he will be singing his new single as part of the touring stage production!

So Taylor Hicks’ trip around the sun, that year between his 31st and 32nd birthdays, has been marked with all sorts of good news, opportunities, and successes. For a young man who had struggled to have his music heard, not only is it being heard now, but he has a record deal and an upcoming “Grease” tour to help spread his music.

Congratulations, Taylor Hicks, for a successful and wonderful year! Hope you had a great birthday, and may your next trip around the sun be just as wonderful and successful as the last!

Now sit back and enjoy this video made by KarinP, and used by permission, as she pictorially showcases Taylor’s “Trip Around the Sun”, sung by Jimmy Buffet and Martina McBride. You might want to grab a hankie first!

Some of My Favorite Pictures