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In the Path of Stardom
Topic Started: Jan 31 2008, 01:33 PM (468 Views)
Taymanfan

posted at the Whomp Swamp by mouser


IN THE PATH OF STARDOM



Source: ABC News
Date Published: July 17, 2007

Excerpt: 'Heart Full of Soul'
Hicks Wants Book to Be Inspiration to Other Would-Be Singers



Former "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks pens his autobiography in "Heart Full of Soul."

The salt-and-pepper hair crooner writes about growing up in Alabama and life on the road. He also discusses how Hurricane Katrina put him on the path to superstardom. The book goes beyond Hicks' major pop-culture moment and sees what happened after America chose its idol.

Read an excerpt of this book below.



THE GRAY-HAIRED

Boy In The Bubble

YOU TAKE A TRIP TO THE CITY LIGHTS AND TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME
--''Take the Long Way Home'' by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson
For the better part of a year, I'd been living inside a bubble called American Idol. While the rest of the world could look in and see me, the fact is, from where I stood stage right at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, on the evening of May 24, 2006, it was nearly impossible to see out. There I was, the gray-haired boy in the bubble, living out a strange but often thrilling version of the American dream in comfortable isolation.

In the exciting and exhausting weeks building up to the Idol finale, I'd get occasional calls from friends and family reporting on what was going on in the outside world. Still, I felt incredibly cut off.both physically and emotionally. Being at the center of the most-watched reality show in history turned out not to be the best vantage point from which to appreciate how big it all was. I knew this much, though: tonight.one way or another, win or lose.the bubble I was living in would burst in a very big and public way. All around me backstage at the Kodak.the same fancy venue where the real Hollywood stars gathered each year for the Oscars.there was a sort of focused commotion playing out. From producers to stagehands, the folks who put together American Idol were all experienced pros, proud veterans of show business wars, but even they seemed to be feeling the full heat of the spectacle. As I took in the scene, I saw the clocks counting down, signaling just minutes left before the much-hyped 2006 finale of American Idol would begin.

Standing near me was Ryan Seacrest.a good guy who appears to have been genetically engineered to stand in the TV and radio spotlight. The man is a broadcasting machine who never stops working. At that moment, Ryan was busy getting his makeup touched up so he'd be ready to take the stage and direct traffic on what had become the biggest show on earth.

Tonight there'd definitely be heavy.and glamorous. congestion with all sorts of superstars on hand to take part in the Idol festivities. Amazingly, music greats Prince, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Toni Braxton, Al Jarreau, and Meat Loaf were all here, as were Season 4 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood and the original Top 12 contestants from our season. Prince was keeping a low profile, though. Our surprise guest was hiding in his limo out back behind the Kodak Theater, where he'd stay until it was time for him to take the stage at night's end. To all of us producing and competing on the show, Prince was just this cool silhouette.a mysterious ghost of pure soulfulness.

Meat Loaf, on the other hand, was standing right there in the thick of things looking exactly like you'd imagine Meat Loaf to look.big, bold, and more than a little wild-eyed. Toni Braxton.with whom I'd be singing the Elvis Presley classic "In the Ghetto" later in the show.looked lovely, and couldn't have been nicer. Toni was even kind enough to bring me a gift she thought would be perfect for this moment in my life, a money clip.

"Taylor, I got you a money clip because you're going to need it," Toni said sweetly. "You're going to have a lot of money to fill this with." Of course, I was way too embarrassed to tell her that, right then, all I had to fill that clip was a bunch of five- and ten-dollar bills.and a pretty small bunch at that. Believe me, you don't get rich being on reality TV unless you win.and maybe not even then. Still, I appreciated Toni's thoughtfulness and optimism. Stars weren't just lining up to be on the show tonight. we even had stars joining the audience, hooked on the excitement just like everyone else. For instance, the world's most beloved lifeguard, David Hasselhoff, was out front, as were a couple thousand other folks including my dad, Brad Hicks, his second wife, Linda, and my younger half brother, Sean. Our three famous judges.Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Simon Cowell, who might best be described as infamous. were also taking their places, attracting cheers and occasional catcalls from the crowd. Seemingly everywhere were executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, whose jobs, I'd come to learn, were as vague and ever-changing as they were important.

Debbie Williams.one of our stage managers, a little woman with a big personality who early on helped me figure out how to play to a TV camera the way I played to audiences in southern clubs and roadhouses.came over to tell me some breaking news. Debbie let me know that we'd have to rehearse one of the numbers during a commercial break. We'd simply run out of time to rehearse all the numbers in this two-hour show. That's just the way things sometimes went on Idol. We were all doing so much.and doing it so quickly.that we were continually in danger of falling behind.

Even during the show's quieter moments.and there weren't all that many.being on American Idol felt like riding some crazy bullet train. The problem was, you were never sure if you'd get thrown off the train. That's the thing about reality TV.it offers a unique crash course in fame, one that can end suddenly and painfully. As you might imagine, the whole experience can be thrilling, exciting, and a little scary.a real trip in every sense of the word. Somehow, to the surprise of a whole lot of naysayers. the sort I'd been facing most of my life.I'd actually made it to this final destination, the Big Show, the Idol finale. In the end, it had all come down to just Katharine McPhee and myself. The two of us didn't talk much to each other as we awaited the big decision that evening. It was nothing personal, though. Truth be told, I'd been living inside my head most of the show, and possibly most of my life. I liked Katharine and knew that she'd worked hard to get this far. Plus, let's face it, she was pretty easy on the eyes, and it was more fun looking at her than Chris Daughtry.

Before the finale, we were both being held in the costume change rooms just off the side of the stage.positioned there so that the stage managers didn't have to run too far to get us into position. For our first appearance of the night, we were wearing white.not exactly my favorite color. I guess I've never felt innocent enough to pull it off, plus I already have hair that color.

As the seconds ticked away, I thought about everything that had led to this big moment. I was proud that I'd played the American Idol game so well, that my strategy had paid off.so far, at least. From the beginning my main focus was turning my biggest disadvantage into an advantage. The undeniable truth is that by nearly every standard, I didn't fit in. I was older and fatter, and I had gray hair. So I decided the smart thing to do was embrace my oddness for all it was worth.like they say, vive la diff}rence. People who worked on Idol tell me that I stood out from the beginning as someone who was thinking ahead. Early in the competition, when I was discussing a particular performance with our show director, Bruce Gowers, and Debbie, they asked if I wanted to go out into the audience during the number. I told them I was saving that move for later in the series. Much later, they'd tell me they were shocked by my display of confidence. They realized I was thinking weeks down the line, while the other contestants were all just trying to survive week to week.

Another time Debbie kidded me about my gut, which, unfortunately, had gotten more noticeable during all those weeks with easy access to free catering tables. "Watch out, Taylor, you've got a little belly there," she said as nicely as those words can be said. I looked her straight in the eye and replied, "Hey, middle America loves that belly." And you know, I don't think I was too far off. America loved my belly more than Ace Young's six-pack. I understood middle America because that's where I'm from. That's who I am. I'm not from Sherman Oaks, California. I'm from Birmingham, Alabama, and that's as middle America as you can get.okay, perhaps not geographically, but in every other way.

As a guy whose hair began turning gray at fourteen, I was pretty used to standing out from the pack. For years, my many flaws held me back. But once I got on American Idol I began to see that not being perfect.or looking perfect. could pay off in a huge way. If America wanted flaws they could relate to, I had plenty to go around. And when the show was over and all the votes were counted, I figured there'd be plenty of time to work on that belly. Standing there backstage waiting for the Idol finale to begin, I wondered for a moment if I'd have to settle for second place. After years of struggle, though, I knew that getting the consolation prize wouldn't be enough. Deep down, I think I needed an undeniable sign that the crazy dream I'd chosen of making music was the right one. Winning would be that sign.

All I ever really wanted was to be recognized for making the soulful music that had saved me as a young man. I thought of my dad out in the crowd, sitting with his second wife and their son. We were all cool now, and I was glad to have them there. My mom had come to the show to watch once too. As I'll tell you about shortly, there were bumpy family histories all around me, but it was still good to see my dad there. At long last, he was getting confirmation that I wasn't the good-for-nothing bum he worried I might become.

Like a lot of people, I didn't grow up in the kind of happy family featured in TV sitcoms. My family started falling apart when I was just a little kid, and in many ways it never really came back together. When I was young, I learned a lot of things the hard way. For one thing, I learned that alcohol and family are a horrible and explosive combination. And as I grew up in the middle of chaos and bad behavior, I also learned that nothing is guaranteed.not even a normal childhood. Winning the American Idol title and taking home that dream record deal with Clive Davis and J Records would be the closest thing to a guarantee this boy from Birmingham, Alabama, would ever get. But first I had to be judged, and not just by Randy, Paula, and Simon. I had to be judged by America. In truth, I'd known my way around judges from a very early age. Way before getting on Idol, I'd been judged plenty. by family, by teachers, by myself, and even by an actual judge or two. The first time was when I was maybe five or six years old. I found myself in a hot Birmingham courtroom facing a judge whose job it was to decide whether I'd be better off living with my mom or my dad. For a few years, I'd been bouncing around with my mom, who was bouncing all over the place herself.in many ways. I still remember how, right in front of everyone, the judge asked me in a thick Alabama accent, "So, son, does your mother drink?" What could I say? For the record, here's what I did say: "Yes, sir, she sure does."

Suddenly, the whole courtroom lit up in laughter. All those grown-ups looking at me just about died. Now, in retrospect, I know it really wasn't all that inspired a punch line. I guess it was funny because it was true. And so it was that I gave up the goods on my mother and a shameless new entertainer was born. Anyway, having been judged so much along the way, as a kid and then later as a never-give-up road warrior trying to catch a break, I knew that in the end you can't really sing to a whole country.that's just not how it works. And unless you happen to be Ray Charles, nobody has a voice that can force tens of millions to believe in you. That's not a trick anyone can play.least of all someone like me, a gray-haired bar singer from Birmingham. To sing to the whole world, you've really got to do it one person at a time.at least, that's how it feels for me. That's what a lost decade spent playing lousy gigs and tough rooms has taught me. Singing from your soul isn't about how many notes you can hit or how long you can hold them. It's all about intimacy and honesty. It's about sharing your story in a song.whether it happens to be a song you wrote or one you decided to make your own. The only job I ever really wanted comes down to looking somebody in the eyes and telling them the truth.telling them my truth. Music has given me almost everything that's good in my life. Mother music, I call it. When something gives you so much, you damn well better give back everything you can in return. If you're going to dare to pick up that microphone, you better have something to say, something to share.

So I guess that's what I did the night of the finale.tried to share. Later, after it was over, I remember thinking.with disbelief.that for about forty-five minutes there I was maybe the biggest star in the world. As Ryan would eventually announce, 63.4 million votes were cast for me that night.more than had been cast for the president of the United States only a year earlier. But that was later.

As I walked onto the Kodak stage that night with a heart full of soul and took my place in the spotlight, it wasn't nerves I was feeling, but something else entirely. In truth, I felt right at home.a man in the right place at the right time. What was once a bubble had somehow become home.and really, home was what I'd been looking for all along.

------------------------------------------------



Source: Niagara Gazette
Date Published: August 30, 2007



BACKSTAGE PASS: From Alabama's bars to America's 'Idol'
By Alan Sculley



Like any “American Idol” winner, Taylor Hicks has seen his life and career change in monumental ways in just a matter of months.

For more than a decade, he was just trying to carve out some semblance of a career as a working musician around his Alabama home base. Now Hicks is one of America’s best-known new artists, with a self-titled CD that has sold more than 1 million copies, appearances on magazine covers and even the designation from People magazine as America’s hottest bachelor to his credit.

Yet Hicks seems to have had a smooth transition into the spotlight, and he gives his years as a struggling musician much of the credit for enabling him to helping him deal with his newfound fame.

“When you go 20 years of your life dreaming about this, those minivan rides at night on the back roads of Alabama allow you to implement the vision you’ve always had when it actually materializes,” Hicks said in a recent phone interview. “For me it’s really been a blessing. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be able to implement my vision as a child, and it’s allowed me to handle this situation a whole lot easier.”

Born in Birmingham, Ala., on Oct. 7, 1976, Hicks was drawn early on to the soul music of artists like Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, and as a youth discovered his voice had the true pitch to sing.

By high school, Hicks was in a band, and soon after entering college, he had released his first CD, “In Your Time.”

Along the way, he got to open shows for such notable artists as Tom Petty, James Brown, Keb’ Mo’ and Jackson Browne. But most of the time, Hicks scratched out a living playing bars, beach clubs, VFWs, and other venues around Alabama and the Southeast.
In 2005, Hicks released his second independent CD, “Under the Radar,” and it was that year that a twist of fate helped put him on the path to “American Idol.”

He was in New Orleans for a wedding the day before Hurricane Katrina hit. With the storm approaching, his flight out had been canceled, and Hicks was given a voucher for a free trip. He had thought about auditioning for “American Idol” in Memphis earlier that year, but that casting call was canceled. So he decided to use his voucher to fly to Las Vegas, where another audition was being held.

Some eight months later, Hicks was voted the “American Idol” winner.

Hicks has stayed busy ever since. He recorded his first single, “Do I Make You Proud,” which debuted at No. 1 on several key radio formats upon its release in June. Then Hicks joined the other finalists for the 2006 “American Idol” tour, which continued into the fall.

At the end of the tour, Hicks went right into the studio to make his recently released self-titled CD.

Circumstances, though, were less than ideal for the project. Because of Hicks’ busy post-“Idol” schedule and the need to get the CD in stores in time for the holiday shopping season, Hicks had only five weeks to finish his CD.

Taylor accepted the need to meet the tight deadline.

“This album needed to be done in a timely fashion to really get it out there and strike while the iron’s hot,” Hicks said. “That’s definitely the broke musician’s mentality.”

The lack of time meant that Hicks had little time for songwriting and had to rely on covers for the bulk of his material on the CD.

Hicks feels he made the best of a challenging situation with the CD.

“I never lost my musical integrity on it,” Hicks said. “That’s something that as a 30-year-old singer/songwriter and musician, something that I really put my foot down and didn’t let happen. My fans, they really enjoy the record. I enjoy the songs on the record. And I think they’re great songs.”

Hicks is now on the road with a full band, and is performing songs not only from the “Taylor Hicks” CD and a newly released concert CD, “Live at the Workplay Theatre,” but from his two earlier independently released CDs. He is also excited to have taken a step up to nicer venues because of his “American Idol” success.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to get out here and really tour these musical venues,” Hicks said.

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Taymanfan

Source: Montgomery Advertiser
Date Published: September 06, 2007



Stars fall on Montgomery: Music hall of fame comes to town



The Alabama Music Hall of Fame's decision to bring its 2008 induction ceremony to Montgomery on Feb. 22 won't just mean stars descending on the city, it could also cause up to $1 million to rain down upon the city's economy, according to AMHOF officials.

And that could be only the beginning. If the event goes well, it could stay in Montgomery for years, perhaps finding at least a semi-permanent home here, said AMHOF Executive Director David Johnson.

Johnson said the event this year will be one of AMHOF's best. Randy Owen of the supergroup Alabama will be master of ceremonies for a show that will include performances by Kris Kristofferson, Percy Sledge, Taylor Hicks, The Commodores and former Montgomerians Tommy Shaw, Clarence Carter and Beth Nielsen Chapman. He said other stars may also come to perform.

The event will be one of the first major shows at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center. The Southeast Tourism Society has already named it one of its top 20 events in the Southeast for 2008.

The musicians being inducted include Shaw, who has performed with Styx and Damn Yankees, Grand Ole Opry member Ernie Ashworth, early rock 'n' roller Boyd Bennitt, jazz great Cleveland Eaton and well-known songwriter Donnie Fritts.

Although officials with Montgomery's Convention and Visitors Bureau said it is too soon to determine the event's impact, they said the million-dollar estimate seems reasonable.

Dawn Hathcock, CVB vice president, said it will depend on how many in attendance at the event are from outside Montgomery and spend the night in hotel rooms and eat multiple meals in restaurants.

Johnson predicted there will be

Dawn Hathcock, CVB vice president, said it will depend on how many in attendance at the event are from outside Montgomery and spend the night in hotel rooms and eat multiple meals in restaurants.

Johnson predicted there will be plenty of those people.

"It will have a major impact," he said. "We will have a few hundred people that come here (from outside the area)."

The organization expects to sell up to 1,000 table seats on the arena floor with an additional 1,800 seats in the gallery.

He said the organization itself will spend about $200,000 on the Montgomery event.

Lee Sentell, head of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel, said the event will mean more than a weekend's boost to Montgomery's economy.

"Having the Music Hall of Fame is going to be a great boost to the music industry in south-central Alabama," he said.

The event will also be a spectacular way to launch Montgomery's new convention center.

"It is a nice way to celebrate the opening of this facility," said Bill Lang of Renaissance.

Johnson said it was the convention center that convinced the group to bring its 12th induction ceremony to Montgomery.

"We have been looking forward to coming to Montgomery," Johnson said.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is located in Tuscumbia and has held previous induction ceremonies in Huntsville, Birmingham and Mobile.

------------------------------------------------------



Source: WSFA12
Date Published: September 06, 2007


Taylor Hicks to Perform at Auburn-Miss. State Football Game




AUBURN- Arista recording artist and former Auburn University student Taylor Hicks will be featured during the Auburn University Marching Band's show during the Mississippi State at Auburn football game on September 15.

The Auburn University Marching Band, under the direction of Dr. Corey Spurlin, will perform a medley of songs with Hicks during halftime of the game set to kick-off at 11:30 a.m. CT.

Taylor's artistry was reaffirmed and validated, as he won the fifth season of FOX's American Idol after a lifetime steeped in the blues and soul and R&B of his native Southern heroes - Ray Charles, Otis Redding, James Brown and Sam Cooke.

Hicks' win on American Idol in 2006 was viewed by 36.4 million households with some 63.4 million votes cast for the eventual champion.

Hicks enrolled at Auburn in 1995 where he studied business and journalism for three years.

His life as a working musician was established while at Auburn.

A native of Birmingham, Hicks is currently touring the country performing tracks from his latest CD entitled, Taylor Hicks.

Tickets for the Mississippi State at Auburn football game are available and may be purchased by calling 1-800-AUB-1957, ext. 1 or on-line at www.auburntigers.com

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Taymanfan

Source: The Buffalo News
Date Published: September 07, 2007


Review: Taylor Hicks flaunts finesse he picked up since his 'American Idol' debut
By Anne Neville


The Soul Patrol was out in force Thursday night to hear Taylor Hicks, winner of the 2006 edition of “American Idol,” bring his idiosyncratic blend of blues, soul and rock to the sold-out Seneca Events Center.

The center is a big barn of a place, with 2,200 chairs on the carpeted floor, and it takes a lot of sound to fill it. Hicks and his tight five-man band did it well, without a misstep, through a 75-minute set that included Hicks’ own tunes, as well as music from the Beatles, Elvis Presley and Elton John.

Throughout the demanding show, Hicks showed impressive depth and versatility, though he seemed happiest, and most at home, singing his own tunes.

The band’s entrance brought cheers from the crowd, and when Hicks strode onstage, his iconic silver hair shining in the spotlight, the cheers became screams.

His first tunes, kicking off with the uptempo, rocking “Give Me Tonight,” showed off a more polished voice and movement than the chubby Taylor Hicks with the bowl haircut familiar to Idol viewers. Hicks is now lanky, and even the dance moves — which he laughingly referred to as “soul aerobics” in a preshow interview — are more coordinated and refined.

When he switched from the rocking opener to the slower “Gonna Move,” his voice grew in depth and color and he showed off the pipes to nice effect.

Hicks was a perpetual motion music machine onstage, playing guitar, harmonica and tambourine. He even took a few whacks at a cowbell during “Heaven Knows,” a complicated, soulful tune that pays homage to two of Hicks’ early influences by sampling Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” and Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar.”

He slyly flirted with the crowd during “Wherever I Lay My Hat,” with Hicks arching one eyebrow as he sang, “By the look in your eyes/I can tell you’re gonna cry/Is it over me?/If it is, save your tears/For I’m not worth it, you see/For I’m the type of boy who is always on the roam/Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home.”

One of his best songs all night was “Soul Thing,” which originally appeared on “Under the Radar,” his second self-produced album from the days when, he remembers, he was lucky to sell 20 CDs a night after a gig in a bar.

“Soul Thing,” which, like many of the other tunes Thursday night, was featured on his debut 2006 platinumselling album, is an get-upand- dance narrative of what his music isn’t — not jazz, not country, but “a soul thing.” The melody incorporates classic jazz and blues riffs, expertly produced by his band, and had the crowd singing along. It’s a cleverly written song, and Hicks has been performing it for so long that it seems to come from somewhere deep inside.

As if his body recalled the days when he was “traveling all these years, just barely getting by,” Hicks slipped back into his pre-fame persona, with bent-over, manic dancing. He was having fun, and so was the crowd.

Hicks put his own distinctive spin on the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” bringing down the room’s energy before springing back into his lively mood. As he was rocking out to “Heaven Knows,” he turned his back to the crowd and danced, swinging around and asking, “That’s what you came for, right?” to roars of approval from the mostly female crowd.

The drum-driven, pop-inflected song “The Runaround” had Hicks spinning in place every time he sang the chorus, and many fans on their feet. He showed off his deeper range and had some fun with “Big Boss Man,” an Elvis tune, shouting “Soul Patrol” between lyrics.

The show ended after an hour, and a chorus of calls and applause summoned Hicks back to the stage. He appeared alone for the encore, sitting on a tall stool and singing the tender “The Fall,” a song he wrote when he was 19 that alludes to a complicated emotional link — “I climbed the ladder, baby, and you took the fall.”

“Has anybody won any money yet?” he quipped as his band dashed back to their posts for the final tune, Elton John’s rousing, rocking “Take Me to the Pilot.”

Go to the PopStand blog at www.buffalonews.com to to read more of the exclusive interview with Taylor Hicks before Thursday’s show.

REVIEW

WHO: Taylor Hicks

WHEN: Thursday night

WHERE: Seneca Events Center, Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel


---------------------------------------------



Source: The Decatur Daily
Date Published: September 21, 2007


Another 'Idol' winner to open nightclub



BIRMINGHAM — The planned entertainment district in downtown Birmingham may be known as Idolville.

Taylor Hicks, the Hoover native and 2006 winner of "American Idol," is joining fellow Idol winner Ruben Studdard with a nightclub in the district, the head of a Memphis development firm said.

John Elkington of Performa Entertainment Real Estate announced during a Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex board meeting Wednesday that Hicks signed
a letter of intent to open the club.

The unnamed club will feature Hicks' Southern-style rock as well as live entertainment by local and regional acts.

Hicks also plans to perform at the club on a regular basis and other Idol performers are expected to appear from time to time.

Studdard signed a deal last month to open a nightspot to be called Ruben's Club 205.

Elkington said Hicks and Studdard give the entertainment district, which will be next to the BJCC, the national and regional draw needed to make it a success.

"The key to our development is the entertainment district so Taylor and Ruben's clubs will play a key role," he said.

Efforts to reach Michael Douglas, the Birmingham attorney who signed the Hicks deal with Elkington, were unsuccessful Thursday.

--------------------------------------------




October 5, 2007

Taylor Hicks to perform at Greenhill School 2008 Gala
By Erin Rice


The Greenhill School recommends that you dance, but that you refrain from dancing anything like Hicks. And that you don't wear a shirt like this. Nor patent leather, light blue shoes, but common sense should steer you from doing something like that.*

It is a ways off, but Greenhill School students, parents, and faculty will get the chance to enjoy American Idol's 2006 winner, Taylor Hicks, at their yearly Greenhill Gala. This year's event is titled "Heart and Soul" and will feature catering, a live auction, and a dance floor to move your feet and shake your... well whatever you got to shake.

Greenhill School is still looking for sponsors for all different levels and benefits. The proceeds from the Gala will go to the Greenhill Endowment for Financial Aid.

Click here to view a video of Taylor Hicks inviting people to join him and the Soul Patrol at the Greenhill Gala on March 29, 2008.
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