Taylor Hicks has been a busy man this past year. He came off from the gruelling American Idol tour to immediately ensconce himself in studio to record his first post-Idol CD due out December 12th.
Fans have been able to watch him "in action" on rehearsals.com a truly smart move on the Soulman's part. This site provides absolutely phenominal exposure for his music, and has created a ton of 'buzz' for the man. Just last week, he appeared on ABC's broadcast of the American Music Awards from Los Angeles in which he strolled the red carpet and was an award presenter. (Let's see if next year he's a recipient.) He also graciously met Wierd Al Yankovich who parodied Hicks in a much watched video that has swarmed the blogspots via the internet. This week we'll be seeing Mr. Hicks as he travels coast-to-coast. Tonight he will be a part of the "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" held in New York City, then Friday night he's on the west coast, making yet another appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" as Jay's musical guest.
He's also been making some controversial American Idol news, coverage of which has been being discussed in a multitude of fan forums and websites. The article which sparked controversy, "On Soul Patrol with Taylor Hicks" written from an interview with Josh Baron on Relix.com, stemmed from some remarks Taylor Hicks made regarding his not being someone who had watched American Idol in the past. Taylor Hicks took it a step further, and stated, "American Idol, for me, is fizzling out. I want to take that opportunity and exposure..." Apparently there are some folks out there who think the man should continue to want to have the A.I. title permanently attached to his name, like some kind of British HRH moniker, i.e., AmericanIdol Taylor Hicks.
I agree with Mr. Hicks, it is time to move on. So what if he used American Idol as a springboard to national exposure! That is what the show is ultimately about and I don't understand any convoluted reasoning why anyone should be upset about this remark. Looking at the time line, the next season of wannabe-famous contestants will be starting in just a few short months and fans of the show will become immersed in the new 2007 group.
Though it's time for Taylor Hicks to distance himself from the show, with fame and great power comes great responsibility (a bit trite, I know, this in reference to "Spiderman", but please - indulge me). Taylor Hicks will be scrutinized now even more than before; words that fall from his lips will dissected to obtain every form of 'meanings' that every individual reading them may attribute to them. Many are saying he's 'biting the hand that feeds him'. TMZ's Jeff Davidson offers a more rational insight into the comments Hicks' has made regarding Idol and his first released single, "Do I Make You Proud". Davidson commends Taylor Hicks for wanting to stand true to his musical roots and having wanted to have his song, "The Fall" as the first released single instead of the written for Idol, "Do I Make You Proud". Still, there are some fans from the show feeling disillusioned, having fallen for Mr. Hicks only because he was on Idol and won.
Continuing with my observations from the Relix.com interview and Hicks' controversial statement, this is my favorite part, "...you either come to see me, buy my album or you don’t. I’m not trying to meet expectations. If you can say you’re a working musician, then you’re doing something good. I’m just glad to be a working musician because that’s what I’ve always been."
You see, that is the man I've always thought Taylor Hicks to be right from that initial audition when he sang Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come". His journey on Idol a testament to this talented man. Mr Hicks smiled in the face of adversity and carried on with what was true to his heart, ignoring pre-conceived perceptions regarding what it takes to win American Idol. He had a few stumbles during the show, the John Denver song, "Country Roads" comes to mind, but ultimately, and importantly, Taylor Hicks did not succumb to pressure to change his true self, not even so much as caving to pressure regarding his hair color.
Taylor Hicks reached out to all of us out there who strive to stay true to ourselves, who fight against the odds to succeed, who are sometimes perceived as misfits or the 'black sheep'. Taylor Hicks stayed true to himself, and Taylor Hicks let his real talent shine, natural, real and authentic. He is 'different', he is unique - an original. This time 'one of us' made it.
In the end, does Taylor Hicks need to make Idol proud? I don't think that's the issue. The real, true issue lies within Taylor Hicks, he must make himself proud. The rest of the pieces will fall as they should.
Groove on Soulman.