Taylor Hicks Biography
Last updated: 04/10/2009
“The first thing I ever stole was an Otis Redding LP from my friend’s house,” says singer/songwrite and harmonica player Taylor Hicks. “I think I was in third grade.”
And though he was born years after the heyday of the great soul and blues performers, Hicks, spent his childhood immersed in a steady stream of music by artists such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and Van Morrison. At 16, he bought a $2 harmonica from a flea market in Bessemer, AL and spent most of his time practicing while other kids were more concerned with driving cars.
Today, Hicks’ own brand of soul-and-blue-influenced music reflects the same sort of raw emotion and sensibilities so apparent in the songs he grew up on: pain, loss, love and the confusion inherent in them all.
He says his passionate writing and singing style is just a natural progression of a life that has been a little different than those of his peers. “Some people grew up in close-knit families,” he explains, “they could identify with the sugar-coated, new-wave music that was popular in the ’80s and even now. My home life wasn’t very supportive or comfortable - with divorce (among other misfortunes). I had to make life-changing choices at an early age. And the whole time, I was listening to soul music - music where you can actually hear a man’s heart break. So it just really made sense to me - even at such a young age.”
Hicks said he found the comfort he was looking for on stage. “I just made it my home. It’s where my heart is.” And watching his intensity on stage, it’s apparent that he holds nothing back. Even the slowest songs are sung with such energy, sweat and grit it would make his predecessors proud. The addition of his growling harmonica style is explosive at least.
Backed by several bands and such musicians as Nashville veteran Billy Earle McClelland, he has entertained audiences at festivals, clubs and fraternities for the past seven years while sharing the bill with some of his idols such as Percy Sledge along the way.
On his debut album, “In Your Time“, Hicks demonstrates that, although he has a reverence for those artists he learned from, he’s far from a stuck-in-the-past purist. The title track from this live CD could be identified as modern soul music, but it is tinged with swinging horns and jazzy guitar licks. The acoustic ballad “The Fall” brings the listener along on Hicks’ sentimental thoughts of a relationship on its last leg. He leaves behind the bigger band sound, opting for more sparse accompaniment that drives home the nakedness of emotion in the song. The recording also features classics including “Georgia” and the Archie Bell & the Drells song “Tighten Up”.