Nothing says summer like a truck race at the Speedway accompanied by some good old-fashioned American rock and soul. Former "American Idol" star Taylor Hicks brought his "Soul Patrol" to the track last night for a gig before the Built Ford Tough 225, says Cincinnati's The Enquirer.
Hicks, 29, who also sang the national anthem, told the paper in a pre-appearance interview that he had no worries about taming the boisterous Speedway crowd, having spent plenty of time at the track in his native Birmingham, Ala. The Speedway gig is his only scheduled appearance in the area. He called us from the road and shared some of his boundless enthusiasm for scoring the gig of a lifetime.
You probably didn't know this, but a local guy you may have heard of named Peter Frampton just played the Speedway a few weeks ago.
Well, that's a tough act to follow, especially when you're talking about Peter Frampton, but that's great. I'm excited about coming to the Speedway.
Are you a NASCAR follower?
I do follow NASCAR. I'm actually singing the national anthem at the Homestead race (in Florida), the last NASCAR race of this year. And I'm from Alabama, so there's the Talladega connection.
Have you ever played this area before?
I actually haven't. The "Idol" tour hit Louisville and I've come through there a couple of times and hit Louisville before "Idol." I'm looking forward to coming through there and setting up shop.
What would surprise people about your show?
I think it's very musical. I never got to play instruments on "Idol," and now I get to play guitar and harmonica. I do mostly originals off of my albums, "Under the Radar" and "In Your Time," and some covers. There's definitely a songwriting, soulful aspect to my music.
You're unusual for an "Idol" winner in that you do have such a musical background and so much touring experience. Has that helped you on the road?
It has. Experience playing in clubs for 10 years and trying to make it really teaches you about who you are as an artist and a person. So when you do catch an opportunity like this, it allows you to stay the same person and understand the business a lot better than someone who hasn't been in it. I think people walk away feeling that their votes did count and it was the right vote because it is such a musical show.
What's the first thing fans typically say when they meet you?
Do you regret it a bit now that you put that out there?
Not at all. The more the merrier.
The Speedway crowd can be a bit rowdy. Are you prepared for that?
I played the infield at Talladega, so I'm very aware of the hoopla and I love it! I was born in a honky-tonk, so the more honky-tonk the better.
Where has your "Idol" success taken you that's been the biggest surprise, the place you never imagined you'd get?
The White House. That was amazing. I got to meet the president and give him a "Soul Patrol" T-shirt. I haven't seen him wear it yet.
And watch a video of Taylor Hicks singing the national anthem at the Kentucky Speedway:
IDOLS IN NASHVILLE
A short video with concert and interview clips from WKRN of the Idols recent visit to the Sommet Center. Phil Stacey and Chris Sligh discuss moving to Nashville, Sanjaya Malakar talks about his hair, and BFFs Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks their bonding. The anchor also reports that Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler attended the concert and watched it from a suite.
KIMBERLEY LOCKE'S DUST-UP WITH DUSTIN DIAMOND
According to "Extra," former "American Idol" contestant Kimberly Locke is riding high.
Locke told Terri Seymour that she's got a new album, a new figure and a new outlook.
Locke became a Jenny Craig spokeswoman last year, determined to lose weight and get healthy. "My goal with Jenny Craig is 40 pounds, so I'm so close I can taste it," she revealed.
She said her new album, "Based on a True Story," comes straight from her painful breakup with her fiancé last year. "I got really nasty, and I don't ever want to go through that again," she admitted. "So I wrote about it."
Locke also changed things up to get in shape. She appeared on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club" and says she's lost four to five dress sizes, but the is not shy about the tension on "Fit Club" between her and former "Saved by the Bell" geek Dustin Diamond.
Dustin poked fun of her not winning "American Idol," and his comments got under her skin. "Had he come up to me and said, 'Don't take it personally,' that's a different story," Locke said. "But don't make me the butt of your jokes."
But Kimberly not nursing a broken heart. When asked by Seymour if she's ready to start dating again, Locke responded, "I'm already dating honey. I didn’t stop!"
SABRINA SLOAN SPEAKS
BuddyTV has an exclusive interview with Season 6 semi-finalist Sabrina Sloan (but, seriously, was everyone really knocking down her door?):
First, can you tell us a little bit about what made you audition for American Idol last season?
Yeah, I've been a fan for the last five years watching the show from the first season, and my friends and family were always telling me, “You could be on the show, you can totally compete on that show. You should go audition.” And I was actually in New York, on Broadway, kind of doing my thing but I wanna go, you see every year people get kicked off that should stay, and it's kinda controversial who ends up winning. But I thought I absolutely have nothing to lose, I just really wanna try and get in the show and I decided this year I had to do it.
When you went into those auditions, did you think you had a pretty good chance to move on once you got there and saw the competition?
I did. It wasn't too overwhelming, actually. I flew to Minneapolis from here to audition. I live in LA, but when they were in Pasadena, I was throwing my best friend her bachelorette party in Las Vegas so I missed the LA audition and ended up going to Minneapolis. And it was still a huge, huge crowd but I actually got really lucky and got in kind of in the first couple of hours and like out by 8 am so it wasn't like the long, long day that I thought it would be and I...I felt like, yeah, I mean when I walked in, you don't know what people sound like necessarily but the characters around you so you kind of feel like, “Well, I've got just as good a shot as anybody else.”
One of the things I think viewers don't get to see enough of is the Hollywood week and kind of what happens there, you know. Can you explain to us a little bit about your experience in Hollywood week?
Hollywood week was crazy, cause I watched it on TV too so you just think it's so...you're up all night, it was crazy. And it's intense. It's a little like boot camp, it's a little like, you know, kind of a sorority rush cause you're on lock down in the hotel and you're around people you don't really know, you're rooming with somebody you didn't know before, maybe you just met and day in day out, going up and singing a song and getting cut and like hanging out for the day, like the girls day where they took us out at Long Beach and it was a good four days, five days and by the end of it, it gets really intense during that group daytime when you're working with three or four people trying to memorize lyrics or put together a song, a routine for the judges. It was a whole lot of pressure and not a lot of sleep and at that point everybody really wants it bad because everybody gets into Hollywood thinks they absolutely belong in the show so it gets really competitive at that point.
When you got the news in that big room that you made it to the top 24, what were your initial reactions, were you expecting that or did you think you had a chance to be sent home at that point?
The thing is with the show you never know and I've treated every step of the process as kinda like a callback. It was like, “Okay, I made it to the next step but I haven't gotten on the show yet,” and that was the big ultimate goal, so for me it was kind of that last step. Like, I've come so far. You know, I really, really asked the show, please tell me and they left me till the last three or four girls and so I was really sweating it out cause there weren't many spots left, and you never know. I mean, there are people that you thought would probably go home that went home but then there are people that shouldn't go home that went home so by time I got up there I was like fingers crossed and okay I'll see what happens.
Being in the top 24, being a semifinalist, what was the thing that took you most by surprise during that whole experience?
I think a lot of people that went home in Hollywood week. You may see some of it on the show, even stuff that was you know, edited out like there were some stellar people that you would go, “Oh, for sure, they're gonna be on the show. They're a contender to win the whole thing.” And then they wouldn't, they wouldn't go through, it was like one little lyric forgotten or you know, you'll never never know and it's hard to keep that mindset that once you go on the show you can go at anytime and it's not all about just talent. It's kind of the whole package, there's a lot involved, so you really just never know when it's gonna be your time.
This season had a fair amount of controversy. What's your take on both Antonella's thing and then Sanjaya making it as far as he did?
Right, right. I mean, it really comes down to it being not about the talent once you get on the show and when you leave it up to America to choose, and you have all the different variables and people voting because they don't like the show and you know, voting based on popularity, or whatever it is, I mean that's kind of the draw to the show. Who's gonna leave, even the upsets are what make the show popular. Because you can get mad and scream and go they don't deserve to go home and I can't believe it, but it's kind of the name of the game. So, we've got contestants that have to be prepared for it and I think this year definitely had some of those elements, but the point is that everybody who's on the show deserves to be there cause they have the votes, so whether it's because of their voice or not because of their voice, because of something else, if they have the number of votes, they're in. It's not like So You Think You Can Dance where the judges have some sort of say in who stays or some of the other shows. That's the thing about what makes American Idol, American Idol, that America is the deciding factor.
I think most would agree that you were one of the better pure singers on the show. Were you then pretty surprised to be eliminated when you were?
I was surprised then. I was. As much as I tried to say, “Okay, I could be going home,” I didn't want to and I really wanted to be in the finals and really didn't think it was my time, so it was hard. It was really hard to leave that night and I was a little bit taken back and you just got to look at it as a huge blessing and so many doors open because of it so I would do it again no matter what.
What have you taken away most from the whole Idol experience?
I would say just to stay true to myself, because I feel like I did that all on the show. I didn't pull any tricks or try to do anything other than do what I do and sing, all the interviews that I've done afterwards people kind of recognize my character, you know, they appreciate me staying true to who I was and that came across and I really had no regrets about any of the choices I made on the show. So, it's something you worry about going on to such a huge stage in front of 37 million people and putting yourself out there to be torn apart and be judged by everyone and no matter what people say, good or bad, about what I did or who I am or what I look like, you know, I just I feel confident that I got a good job and I deserve to be there.
Since being on Idol, how has your life changed and what have you got in store for the future?
Life changes because people definitely recognize you and even now that the show's over, the finale's over, you really start to realize once you're off the show what a huge, huge machine American Idol is and how many people really watch cause people still recognize you and I definitely can't go bummed out to the 711 anymore, cause undoubtedly somebody will say “Hey!” And the huge opportunities…I hope I can make a record pretty soon and working out a deal with a major record label, and just some kind of cosmetic promotion opportunities and I was an actress and singer before Idol so God created agents and they live here in LA. Hopefully some acting opportunities too, but lots and lots of doors open so it's been really, really great.
IS SIMON COWELL STEPPING OUT ON TERRI SEYMOUR?
Well, they really don't say, but today's Sunday Mirror is trying to titillate us with that possibility:
Jasmine Lennard has broken her silence on her relationship with Simon Cowell and admitted: "I adore him."
The 21-year-old model was rumoured to be having a secret fling with the 47-year-old "X Factor" judge last year when she was spotted leaving his £11 million home in West London. Cowell - who has a long-term girlfriend Terri Seymour - insisted they were merely "discussing projects".
Now Jasmine, who split with night club owner Mark Alexiou amid the revelations, has ignited the rumours again in a magazine interview in which she says: "Everything he says is golden, because he has so much experience. I have a lot of respect for Simon. I adore him." The "Make Me a Supermodel" star also revealed she is seeing someone "very precious" - but would not say who.
Asked to explain the initials SC tattooed on her wrist, she said: "It's someone who is important to me and I'm happy to have the tattoo there for the rest of my life.
"I'm seeing someone, but I can't talk about it because whoever I'm seeing is very precious to me in a way I cannot describe in words, and I'll do everything I can to protect that person."
... Researching Lennard, we found this story that ran last July in the same paper:
Simon Cowell has been allegedly cheating on girlfriend Terri Seymour for six months, it has emerged.
The "X Factor" judge, famed for his razor tongue, met society girl Jasmine Lennard, 21, in a posh restaurant in January and began seeing her after sending a flirty note.
News of his affair with Jasmine is bound to devastate model-turned-television presenter Terri, his most serious girlfriend.
Their relationship is reported to have been on the rocks recently.
Jasmine, who has overcome drug addiction and is thought to be bisexual, has since made several secret visits to his £7.5million home while Terri, 32, is away.
The pair have dined together in public and Jasmine has even visited the X Factor studios.
A source told The Sun: "They spend most of their time together in Simon's house when Terri is at their other home in Los Angeles.
"Sometimes they go out, but only with other friends so as not to arouse any suspicion."
The pop tycoon's affair was exposed just before midnight on Tuesday, when Jasmine was photographed leaving his house. It was the eve of her 21st birthday.
The young model, who has a boyfriend, emerged in a heavy fur coat, despite the stifling heat. But beneath, she wore racy black lingerie, the newspaper reports.
The model saw in her 21st birthday by spending an hour-and-a-half with him on a downstairs sofa.
They headed to his bedroom at 1.30am, where a lamp was turned on and they shared a steamy clinch by the window.
An hour later Jasmine emerged from the four-storey mansion in Holland Park.
Her friends believe she is in love with the multi-millionaire.
One revealed: "Jasmine is absolutely besotted with him and thinks he feels the same."
However, Simon's secret lover has had a troubled past and was once at celebrity rehab clinic The Priory alongside Kate Moss. At just 14 she was on the Pill and regularly smoked marijuana.
By 18, she was hooked on cocaine and ecstasy and went on to have sexual encounters with both men and women, according to The Sun.
She claims cleaning up her act by checking into The Priory got her out of "the gutter".
Simon, who has been dating Terri for four years, has previously admitted he has a roaming eye but insisted he was not a love-cheat.
Asked two years ago if he was faithful to her he replied: "Well, I am a bit of a flirt but I'm pretty good.
"My eyes do wander, and daily. It's what you do after those eyes that counts."
However, one of his former loves, pop singer Sinitta, claimed he was incapable of being faithful.
It is also sure to upset Jasmine's club owner boyfriend Mark Alexiou, who once dated Sophie Anderton.
But Simon's spokesman last night claimed his rendezvous with Jasmine at his home was innocent. He said: "Simon has known Jasmine for some time. They had a meeting to discuss TV projects."
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