- 11:40 AM, Feb 20
Raised in a suburban area of Hoover, Alabama since he was eight, Taylor Hicks started playing music after he bought his first harmonica at the age 16 and then taught himself how to play blues harp. Having a difficult childhood due to the divorce of his parents, he turned himself into soul and blues music genre in a bid to find solace.
Taylor, who was born on October 7, 1976, wrote his first song "In Your Time" when he was just 18. Possessed by a strong passion in music, he then began exploring his talent by studying to play guitar. While he was in college, he joined a band named Passing Through but later quit to start his own singing career.
Taylor released an independent album titled "In Your Time [Live]" in 1997. He then moved to Nashville in the hope of signing a deal with a major record label. Working with guitarist/songwriter Billy Earl McClelland and soul singer Percy Sledge for three demo tracks, he was unfortunately unable to find any recording company who was willing to sign him. Due to "oversaturation of the market", he returned to Alabama and launched a professional music career in the state, performing in various venues and parties mostly around the Southeastern United States, including The War Eagle Supper Club in Auburn, Alabama.
Eight years later, Taylor dropped another indie record entitled "Under the Radar [Live]" despite his status of still being unsigned. Continuing performing in small places, he gives his music to fans for free, allowing them to record his live concerts for a non commercial, personal use.
Shortly after that, Taylor auditioned for "American Idol". Receiving an approval from judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, he was warned by Simon Cowell for unable to make it into the final. Proving that he indeed deserved to be with the other contestant, Taylor impressed Simon during his first performance for public voting.
In May 2006, Taylor was announced as the top 3 finalist at the singing competition along with Katharine McPhee and Elliott Yamin. Receiving over 63.4 million votes in total, he was named as the winner of the contest in mid May and then signed by Ford Motor Company, the show's major sponsor, to promote Ford's "Drive on Us" year-end sales event.
Post leaving "American Idol", Taylor inked a deal with 19Recordings Limited/Arista Records, the company managed by American Idol creator Simon Fuller.