According to WSBTV, "American Idol" 2006 winner Taylor Hicks rocked through Atlanta last night. He hit the Southern Star Stage at Six Flags performing before hundreds of fans.
The road is nothing new for the Alabama native. Long before American Idol fame came calling, he was hitting the roads all across the southeast, playing in bands since he was 19 years old. He adds that touring back then has prepared him for the lifestyle now, a lifestyle that includes performing at night, sleeping during the day from time to time, and plenty of time of the open road.
While some past contestants of American Idol have been quick to abandon their ties to the show, not so for Hicks. He says he understands what a great opportunity performing on American Idol in front of millions was, and he continues to learn more and more about it each day.
From here, Hicks continues the tour, a tour he describes as high impact soul aerobics, a modern day approach to soul. Next month, Hicks the artist turns into Hicks the author. He's got a new book coming out called "Heart Full Of Soul." In it, he tells how a gray-haired guy beat the odds, finding his own voice and seizing the opportunity when it came his way.
Don't miss the slideshow and video from Hicks' performance on the WSBTV Web site.
ELLIOTT YAMIN PLANNING 2nd CD
An interview with Elliott Yamin from the Arizona Daily Star:
Nobody can say Elliott Yamin isn't doing it his way. "American Idol" passed on the third-place vocalist in 2006 when producers doled out Season Five record contracts, but the 28-year-old soon worked out a publishing deal with Sony/ATV and now has a self-titled hit album on the Billboard independent charts.
You went on a nationwide arena tour with the "Idol" finalists after the show ended. Now, you are playing smaller venues on your own. Do you prefer one or the other?
The arenas were great. I had a blast doing those. Who wouldn't like to get up in front of 16,000 people every night back-to-back-to-back. At the same time, I really enjoy doing these small clubs and theaters. It is more intimate. You get to really interact with the crowd. Dare I say I probably do prefer this kind of tour we are doing here.
You keep in touch with your fellow Season Fivers?
I keep in touch with quite a few people. Bucky [Covington] and Taylor [Hicks] were my best friends on the show. I talked to Taylor probably about a week ago when we were in St. Louis and Bucky a couple of weeks ago. I talk to Ace [Young] all the time. Ace has probably become one of my better friends post-show. He lives in L.A., pretty close to where I live. We talk about more personal stuff than the business stuff. Everyone has been so busy, they just want some normalcy.
Do you feel recording independently from the "American Idol" machine has been to your advantage?
Absolutely. I've been involved every step of the way with every facet of this project from co-writing songs to picking out the sequencing on the record to trying to help pick where I wanted to go on tour. Everything from top to bottom. I am a partner in my own deal. I have more vested in this. I don't have to go out and sell 2-3 million records to be successful.
What did you want to achieve with your first solo album?
I just wanted to bring raw, soulful music. I didn't want it to get overproduced or sound too copy. There is an eclectic mix of sounds on the record. I wanted to work with as many people as I could and have as many different sounds as I could. There are some sounds on there for the blue hairs, for the young folks and for everyone in between. Had I been on a major label, I wouldn't have been able to record that way. I am proud of how we accomplished it. I am looking forward to the next record.
You were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when you were 16 years old. Now, you are a celebrity advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. How does it feel to hold such a title?
I think it is very important. A lot of people align my struggle with calling me a role model. I don't know if I necessarily want to be one, but I definitely want to be a voice. I've had my struggles with it when I was younger. I know what it was like to have diabetic seizures. I know what it is like to be at your lowest point.
Maintaining it on the road is very challenging. You learn how to cope with the different ways and different situations. It is just a matter of checking my blood sugar more often. I wear an insulin pump. It is more conducive to my lifestyle, which is always on the go.
Any projects on the horizon?
I did a big Christmas deal with Target. I will be recording that album in July. We go out on the road and do the second leg of the tour in August and September. Then it is on to the next album.
JOSH GRACIN: I DON'T SEE MYSELF AS A CELEBRITY
Excerpts from an interview with Season 2 finalist Josh Gracin in the Walker Country Messenger:
"When I'm up on stage it's like a whole new world for me. I love performing. I'm a firm believer that it's really great for a singer to have a good voice, but to bring it to another level you have to draw the audience in and make them a part of the music, make them feel what you’re feeling."
Born and raised in Westland, Mich., about 30 minutes west of Detroit, Gracin grew up listening to his parents’ favorites: Elvis, the Beatles and the vintage rock and pop on a local station. Then, when he was 11, the station’s format changed to country.
"In the weeks and months after that, I really fell in love with country music. Listening to Garth Brooks, Joe Diffie, George Strait and Randy Travis, I really started getting into it," he said.
After high school, he enlisted in the Marines. About two years into his four-year term of the Marines, he saw the first "American Idol" show.
"I hadn't sung in a couple of years because I was in the Marines, and I thought it might be a good chance for me to get back out there and sing," he said.
"I don't see myself as a celebrity at all. I'm very shy and not all that self-confident, and I feel like an ordinary person, a normal guy who's very approachable. And if I get a little carried away, I’ve got my wife to keep me humble and bring me back down to earth."
Watch video of Taylor Hicks singing "Don't Let Me Down" Wednesday at the NorVa in Norfolk, Va.:
Click here for other videos from the same concert.
Watch video of Bucky Covington at the Lincoln Theatre June 14:
Watch video of Jasmine Trias singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from "Dreamgirls" at the June 15, 2007 Inspiration Concert in Toronto:
Watch Mandisa seeing her CD single, "Only the World," for the first time:
And listen to "Only the World" here.
Watch Brad Paisley video "Online," which is not only funny, but features a slew of guest appearances, including Jason Alexander, William Shatner and Kellie Pickler, who is currently touring with Paisley:
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