Taylor Hicks is the winner of FOX's "American Idol 5." He is a blue-eyed soul singer from Birmingham, Alabama, who had played every honky-tonk imaginable. A talented writer and harmonica player, he entered the competition with almost 29 years of singing experience, as he had been singing ever since he could crawl.

Alabama's favorite son continues to be in "The Right Place" since becoming the fifth-season winner of "American Idol." Since then, he has seen his Arista debut album certified platinum, performed with the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire, The Allman Brothers and Willie Nelson, toured through Asia, penned a brisk-selling Random House memoir, and made his Broadway debut in "Grease."

Hicks released an album reflective of his pre-Idol years, "Early Works" (Vanguard Records), which merges his indie albums "In Your Time" and "Under the Radar" into one collection. Along with his contribution to the forthcoming "Warren Haynes Christmas Jam," recorded live in Ashville, North Carolina, his own DVD, "Whomp at the Warfield," offers fans exhilarating live performances by Hicks and his band at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco.

Hicks spent summer 2008 in "Grease" at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. As Teen Angel, singing "Beauty School Dropout" while also showcasing his harmonica skills, he appreciated the opportunity as "a perfect fit for me to experience Broadway theater," in a musical much-loved for its memorable songs.

Hicks was eight when his family moved from his native Birmingham to nearby Hoover and his parents divorced. Early hardship quickly led him to the warm and tender mercies of soul music. As a youth he realized he had perfect pitch, and taught himself to play guitar and a blues-wailin' harmonica. After graduating high school in 1995, he studied business and journalism at Auburn University and shepherded the release of his first independent album, "In Your Time."

Focusing on music full-time, Hicks became a fixture around Birmingham, opening concerts and club dates for visiting stars like James Brown, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Robert Randolph, Keb' Mo' and others. Hicks honed his skills and learned to please diverse audiences. "At some of the beach bars I played over the years, I had to entertain fifteen-year-olds sitting with their 75-year-old grandparents," he recalls. In early 2005, he released his second indie CD, entitled "Under the Radar."

His personal twist of fate came in New Orleans, at the wedding of an Auburn friend, the night before Hurricane Katrina hit on August 29, 2005. With his flight canceled, Hicks was given a free airplane voucher. Earlier that summer, he had considered auditioning for "American Idol" in Memphis, but the auditions were canceled as the city became one of hubs of the Katrina relief effort. Through the summer and fall, however, auditions proceeded in eight cities across the country, and he eventually used his voucher to travel for a Las Vegas holiday. Coincidentally "American Idol" was auditioning in Vegas during his vacation.

By February, as the fifth season got well underway, two dozen semi-finalists had been chosen. From the start, Hicks' material set him apart, with such blues and funk-based rockers as the Doobie Brothers' "Takin' It to the Streets," Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" and "In the Ghetto," and Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." By May 12, "Soul Patrol!" fever was everywhere as Hicks was brought to Birmingham for a weekend celebration, a concert in his honor and a personal meeting with Governor Bob Riley, who officially proclaimed Monday, May 16 as "Taylor Hicks Day."

A lifetime steeped in the blues, soul and R&B of his native Southern heroes – Ray Charles, Otis Redding, James Brown and Sam Cooke, to name a few – culminated in no uncertain terms as Hicks won the fifth season of "American Idol." It was an emotionally uplifting night – May 24, 2006 – when 36.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the season finale, the year's third-largest audience for a televised event after the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. More than 63 million votes were cast in crowning a gritty, down-home, white R&B singer the new winner.

Less than three weeks later came the debut of Hicks' first single, "Do I Make You Proud," coupled with "Takin' It to the Streets," culled from the "American Idol" Season 5 Encores CD. The single entered at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100, Pop 100 and Single Sales charts, with first-week sales over 190,000 units. As with previous "American Idol" winners' singles, a portion of the proceeds from every CD single, download, ringtone and ringback benefited the American Red Cross. Coinciding with the single release, a cover story named Hicks as People magazine's Hottest Bachelor of the Year.

His self-titled album was released by Arista on December 12, 2006. It debuted in the #2 spot on the Billboard 200 and was quickly certified platinum. Produced by Grammy winner Matt Serletic (Matchbox Twenty, Santana, Willie Nelson, Courtney Love), the album showcased Hicks' talents and roots: from the feel-good groove of "The Runaround" to the ballad "Just to Feel That Way" to the bluesy "Heaven Knows" to the earnest "The Right Place," originally written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance for Ray Charles to record before his death. During the fifth season of "American Idol," in the summer of 2006, Hicks had already recorded his third indie album, "Live at the Workplay Theatre," with the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra.

Audiences cheered Hicks during the summer "American Idols Live!" tour, and he went on to thrill audiences across Asia. Back in the U.S., he went on the road performing with Willie Nelson, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers and Jackson Browne. Adding publishing to his list of growing accomplishments, Hicks' memoir, "Heart Full of Soul: An Inspirational Memoir About Finding Your Voice and Finding Your Way" (Random House), was released in July 2007. It's clear that he continues to find his way to success, at a level that a young boy from Birmingham may not have imagined.




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FACTS

How tall is he? How old is he? Find out here.

Age: 40 years old
Birthday: October 7, 1976
Height: 6' 1"
Nickname: The Silver Fox
Tay Tay
Full Name / Real Name: Taylor Reuben Hicks
Birthplace: Birmingham, AL


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