Home / Will Taylor Hicks Overcome The American Idol Stigma?

Will Taylor Hicks Overcome The American Idol Stigma?

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It has been a little over a month since Taylor Hicks was crowned the 2006 American Idol. In that time, he has worked hard to dispel any thought that American Idols are not real musicians or singers, or that they haven’t worked hard or paid any dues.

It helps that Taylor is 29-years old and his years of playing every bar in the Southeast shows. It’s pretty clear he’s a man who has paid plenty of dues. It helps that he knows his music. He loves Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Van Morrison. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that he already has two independent albums, In Your Time (currently unavailable, but sells for a pretty penny on ebay) and Under the Radar, under his belt.

Taylor beat the American Idol stereotype weeks before he even won the title. Taylor pushed the American Idol stigma aside the second the walked through the door to his audition. Everyone knew he was unlike anyone who had ever been on American Idol before; he was something different than what the show seemed to be about. So different, Simon Cowell was certain Taylor could never be marketed as a popular singer.

Taylor shoved the American Idol stereotype right out the door when he walked into the Top 24 decision room blowing his harmonica. Taylor never wanted anyone to forget he was a real musician, that he was the real thing. Despite Simon’s misgivings about Taylor’s chance for success, he started developing a strong and steadfast fan base immediately. Not only was Taylor out to prove a real musician could win American Idol, but America was also out to show American Idol a real musician was what they wanted.

Some may say it was Taylor’s dancing or his gray hair that pulled him through, but those people weren’t really paying attention. It was Taylor’s voice, which resonated true feeling behind each song, and it was his genuine love for what he was doing that gave him the edge.

In the weeks since American Idol ended we have seen Taylor back home playing with his band, jamming with Snoop Dogg, and performing his original song "The Deal" at Utah's America's Freedom Festival. He’s making it clear his new album, due out later this year, will be his music and his style. And through all this, he has been nothing but grateful to American Idol and the fans who’ve put him where he is.

So does it matter that Taylor Hicks comes from a show that seemed to have been put in place to produce the kind of pre-manufactured pop star we’re all getting sick of? No. What matters is what Taylor does from here on out, and right now he seems to be on the right path.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.
  • Judy

    There will be no idol stigma attached to Taylor,he has already written some outstanding songs and has a style unique to him.Taylor is one of a kind and has a sixth sense when it comes to knowing what people want to hear.

  • JAG

    As long as Taylor stays true to himself and the music he loves he will become a superstar.He has the potential to become an important part of American music and I already have noticed many radio stations playing much more soulful music.America needed a change and we got that with Taylor Hicks!!!!

  • Great article about Taylor. He’s the real deal and so much into the music that he brings you along with him. He opens his heart and soul to the audience. Thank goodness someone different won AI this year. I for one am tired of the same old. Music producers take note! America doesn’t want the same “cookie cutter” singers!!

  • Azure

    We’re driving more than 2 1/2 hrs to see the American Idol tour show this weekend. This is the first AI show I’ve ever even considered attending.

    The reason we’re going is simple. I missed out seeing Elvis. I missed out seeing the Beatles. I don’t intend to ever say that I missed out seeing Taylor Hicks.

  • lovingtaylorinliberty

    Taylor is a one of a kind…….so glad he won. He not only has great talent but is a great man.

  • Claire

    Taylor is the man this industry is lacking. Over the years, a lot of people, myself included were so turned off by what’s happening on TV and Radio. And yes, just like a rational person, I did not have to watch TV or listen to the radio. Today, when Taylor is on TV, I watch, when he’s played on the radio, I listen…and I’m sure I’m not the only one…

  • diane ormrod

    Thanks for an insightful article. It’s nice to read something objective instead of snide, which seems to be the norm (and oftentimes, the easy route…). Taylor always sings with heart. I was thrilled that he won. He’s not the typical pop star. I believe with the right guidance he will have staying power- more than any of the other winners, And hopefully more than most of the musical “stars” around now. The great thing about Taylor is he appeals to everyone – young, middle aged and older generations too. I wish him well. I’ve already bought his single (the first since I was a teenager, and now I’m in my 40’s),

  • Amy

    Like all articles, this is one-sided. I’m not saying that Taylor’s not a real musician, because obviously he is. I’m also not saying that he’s not talented. I’m just saying that there are just as many talented people out there, people like Taylor, people who release independent albums and who work thier asses off to get somewhere, if anywhere, who don’t go on shows like American Idol. So, if Taylor does get the AI stigma attached to him, then I think he deserved it.

  • HR Pufnstuf

    This is a great article but to be fair, a number of other journalists proved they understood Taylor Hicks before and after he won. Some of them post here at Blog Critics.

  • Elizabeth

    I believe Taylor DID pay his dues. He’s been working to get where he is today for years and years. I agree with Sherry when she says that Taylor is musician compared to artists such as Paris Hilton and Hillary Duff. What did they do to get where they are at? Nothing. Just that they come from wealthy families and can do anything they want.

    Taylor, on the other hand, is a true musician, who loves music, plays it and composes it. And it shows. He deserves to be where he’s at and he’s going to prove that he’s here to stay.

  • Christy

    Taylor is a true artist which sets him apart from the other past contestants on A.I. (vocalist & musician & artist – he is able to convey his feelings of a song while giving it his own sound – Kelly Clarkson also does this, so I consider her an artist as well, although she was only able to do so after separating herself from the A.I. machine).

    Taylor will never have the A.I.-stigma since he has been so different than anyone on A.I. and the Powers-That-Be cannot ignore it. This shows in the post-idol venues that A.I. has allowed Taylor to take part in. They are letting the leash out a few hundred yards for Taylor since they realize that he knows what he’s doing. Although Taylor could never get a break into the music industry before, he knows it well.

    This is actually a terrific opportunity for the American Idol entity. For the first time, they have a chance at getting a Grammy that is directly connected to their show. Don’t forget that Kelly’s grammy was earned after she left the A.I./19 machines and she didn’t even thank them for getting her that far. If A.I. is nice to Taylor, he’ll be evangelizing A.I. in his acceptance speech with lots of wooo hooo’s. 🙂

  • Absolutely not!!

    Taylor Hicks is a wedding singer and will ALWAYS be a wedding singer. Taylor belongs in Vegas and that is eventually where he will end up. Remember my prediction…

  • Chris – I am in no way suggesting that vocalists are not “real” musicians, when did I say they weren’t?


    ***Webster’s defines musician as “one who composes, conducts or perfoms music, especially instrumental music.

    and Princeton University has the defintion as 1. Someone who plays a musical instrument (as a profession)[syn instrumentalist] 2. artist who composes or conducts music as a profession.***

    So yes I would consider the people you mentioned to be musicans, but not everyone who sings is. Not everyone who plays an instrument is.

    What you are saying is that anyone who gets their first big record deal gets success handed to them overnight. That is not true. It doesn’t matter is Taylor or Kelly Clarkson got a deal from a big label because of American Idol, or for some other reason, they still toiled away as you pointed out. This is called paying dues.

    Do you think Paris Hilton – who has a hit on the charts – paid dues, and is a musician? Hilary Duff, Ashlee Simpson? Those are the kind of people I was talking about.

    That is the perception about Kelly Clarkson, even though it is not true. I think Kelly is a good singer, and I don’t think her first album let her live up to her potential. She has had a hard time overcoming the stima, which was kind of the point of my article. I don’t think it will take as long with Taylor.

  • Janet

    Awesome. It’s nice to finally read something that makes sense.

  • Diana

    Great article…….nice to read journalism with insight.

  • First of all, Taylor DID have it handed to him overnight. Just like the previous 4 Idol winners did. It doesn’t matter how long you’re supposedly “paying your dues”. Kelly Clarkson spent YEARS trying to make it in the music industry and an opportunity like American Idol came along and she took it. People would not be saying that Idols didn’t “pay their dues” if they had gotten a regular record deal the way most artists do–when if you think about it–that process in itself is just as “overnight”. It’s just that American Idol is on a larger scale because of the exposure.

    I think it’s disgusting that people would suggest you’re not a “real musician” if you don’t play musical instruments. The human voice IS a musical instrument. Is Aretha Franklin not a real musician? Is Billie Holiday not a real musician?

    You don’t need to write or play any kind of instrument to be a musician. If someone JUST played an instrument you’d consider them a musician–yet if they JUST sing, somehow they’re not. That doesn’t quite make sense to me.

  • Mike Mathews

    Taylor is really good and I like him a lot but did anybody see Chris Dauhtry on Regis and Kelly? He is an awesome guitarist and I think it was unfair of the idol producers to not let him display his instrumental talents on the show. Don’t get me wrong…I love Taylor Hicks! I hope he has a ton of success!!!

  • Jean

    Awesome article!!! I agree with you 100%. You hit the nail on the head with everything you said.

  • tim

    Alot of the things he states in these interviews remind me of things Diana DeGarmo said post-Idol (in 2004). But because she was 16 no one took her seriously. [and plus ‘Idol’ making her look like a total-pagent princess didn’t help either]. However, Taylor stating how he started seriously at 12 proves that someone at 16 could potentially know exactly who they are and what they are doing.

  • Cynthia

    *standing ovation*

    Great article! You obviously ‘get it’.

    Thank you.


  • Evelyn

    Short but GREAT article on Taylor! American Idol stigma though? Taylor is a ‘star’ because he is Taylor! He is not just a singer with a captivating voice; not just a musician; not just a song writer; not just a performer or any of the other descriptions that have been used. Taylor is ‘The Whole Package’! He had a driving force within that kept him in motion to capture his life’s dream. Many would have pulled the plug long ago. What he needed was ‘Exposure’ & that is what American Idol gave him.
    We all heard it! Taylor was a ‘raw talent; not polished or poised, yet his performances ‘demanded’ attention & we took notice. He didn’t just sing the lyrics of a song; he reached deep inside himself & revealed a story. What a welcomed addition he is to the music industry.

  • Carol

    I’m still finding it hard to believe that AI not
    only found a talent but what may be a once in
    a lifetime talent. Would someone please explain
    to the guy who left the first comment that a real
    musician is someone who can not only carry a
    tune but can play an instument well, write, and
    arrange. and that paying your dues means working
    hard for a considable amount of time, not having
    it handed to you over night.

  • Cathy

    Bravo…thanks for writing a true account of what Taylor has always been about…the music!! It’s very refreshing to finally read a decent and heartfelt commentary. Thanks for ‘getting it’!!!

  • Terry

    Outstanding article Sherry. Clear-headed and a fine realistic perspective on Taylor, and the industry. Having followed the AI/Taylor phenomenon and having written articles and read more articles this year than I have in 20 years, I find yours a refreshing drink from the fountian of common sense. Thanks hun, nice write.


  • Martha

    Thanks for being the first writer who “gets it” to pen an article explaining the how, what and why of Taylor’s success.

  • What exactly constitutes a REAL musician?

    What exactly is PAYING DUES?

    I’ve never understood this.