Weekend in Birmingham

Weekend in Birmingham

Taylor Hicks spent a busy Father’s Day weekend at home in Birmingham.  Saturday night, he performed “Gin and Juice” with Snoop Dogg at City Stages.  You can check out the performance here.  (I’m not going to comment on it…the video is really badly edited.)

At first glance,  Snoop and Taylor might appear to be an unlikely pairing.  But, here is what Taylor had to say about Snoop and Rap music in general, from this Birmingham News interview:

“I have the greatest respect for Snoop Dogg as an artist, but also as a family man, a businessman and an integral part of pop culture…Rap music has the most advanced lyricism there is. Rap is real; there’s nothing pretentious about it. I’m very excited about appearing with Snoop. I think it’s great.”

Taylor likes the Rap…

In the same interview, Taylor speaks to emerging from the Idol experience with his artistry intact:

“Hicks made it clear, however, that he was moving into the next phase of his career, taking control of his future as a performing artist. Soon enough, Hicks said, he’ll leave American Idol far behind him.

‘What we’re doing now is art by Taylor, ‘ he emphasized. ‘Taylor is making his own decisions. His decisions are not being made by a machine.’

No, Hicks hasn’t shifted into Garth Brooks mode, constantly referring to himself in the third person.

In this case, he’s merely responding to the widespread perception that American Idol masterminds are controlling his every move from now on – the way Hicks is presented on stage during the Idol tour, for example, and the songs chosen for his first album on the Arista label.

‘I’m climbing an uphill battle, ‘ he said, ‘shedding the Idol image and emerging as an artist. It’s been tough for me, not really having all of my assets with me for about eight months. As soon as the show was over, I was thrilled to be in artist mode, playing harmonica and guitar.’

Singing on a glitzy Hollywood stage with a slick, highly polished band, doing snippets of someone else’s songs for a minute and 20 seconds … well, the Soul Patrolman’s pretty much had enough of that.

‘It’s not the dirt I need to plant my musical flower, ‘ Hicks said.

Hmmm….the battle lines are being drawn, I’d say.

This afternoon, Taylor played City Stages with his former band The Little Memphis Blues Orchestra.  According to the Birmingham News,

“…the Little Memphis Blues Orchestra played for about 10 minutes before they were joined by their famous frontman, Taylor Hicks. The American Idol winner sang and played with the guys on the Birmingham News/al.com Homegrown Stage for about 20 minutes. He’ll be flying back to Los Angeles soon to continue rehearsals for the American Idol  concert tour.

Check out www.al.com for pictures of this weekend’s City Stages events.

ETA:  Taylor apparently made a third appearance at City Stages with The Allman Brothers Band last night.  His harmonica made another appearance as well.  thanks cheese.

Taylor is the first musician, experienced enough to know who he is as an artist, to win American Idol.  I hope his handlers are smart enough to let him do his thing.  Throughout the competition, Taylor demonstrated smarts and good instincts beyond just his talent.  If given space to create a record that reflects who he is as an artist, Taylor could bring more than money to the Idol brand. His success as a true artist could dispell the conventional wisdom that Idol is no more than a glorified karaoke competition cranking out generic music for the masses.

If it’s true that Idol has allowed The Firm to manage Taylor, loosening that tight grip they’ve historically held on their winners, then maybe they are willing to compromise in the studio as well.  I hope so.  As for Taylor,  if there are battles ahead, he needs to choose them wisely.