Thursday, April 24, 2008
In Gone Hollywood, chapter 11 of Taylor Hicks' Heart Full Of Soul, Taylor talks about the visual medium of television, and utilizing the fact that he already clearly stood out from the pack with his premature gray hair.
Rather than feeling insecure about being different, he focused on his strengths, adding some goofy charm and crazy dancing, to entertain the viewers at home during his American Idol competition.
He understood that a viewer at home wanted to root for a contestant, and that the best way to inspire that rooting feeling was to be a guy who leaves nothing on the field, who gives everything he's got - and maybe a little more.
Taylor already knew how to work a crowd, he'd been at it for 10 years, and he looked to his musical experience when it came time to choose songs that sold his strengths.
Songs that were right in his sweet spot, yet displaying range - songs that would tell the story of his musical identity.
Using his experience leading a band, Taylor taught himself how to get in and out of songs, while squeezing the most out of their melodies.
Having only 2 minutes to perform a song, with a normal length of 3-5 minutes, the idea was to make listeners feel they had heard the whole song.
Taylor said that all of those years facing large crowds in bars around the South had given him valuable experience not just singing, but also editing down songs and distilling their essence.
Unlike current AI competitors, Taylor and his fellow contestants were not allowed to utilize their additional musical skills or utensils as Taylor refers to them.
Not till finale night were we allowed another glimpse of Taylor's phenominal harp playing and we never got to see him with his guitar.
(Yet, Chris was permitted his guitar for one of his performances, forget what it was, but I've never understood why that was allowed.)
There is no doubt that Taylor knew how to capitalize on the visual aspects of his AI performances, who could ever forget his entrance through the audience singing and dancing to "Jailhouse Rock", or when he pulled Paula up to dance with him while singing "Dancing In The Dark"!
The following two videos from American Idol Season 6 Winner Taylor Hicks, probably best illustrate Taylor working the crowd and giving us the viewers at home - everything he had and more!
Taylor Hicks ~ "Play That Funky Music"
Taylor Hicks ~ "Takin It To The Streets"
Taylor Hicks is a multi-talented artist who shines as a live performer!
You never know what he is going to spring on you, whether you are going to see his sensitive, lost in the music side, or his funky let's have some fun side.
One thing is for sure, he will alway's leave you feelin' good and he will always leave you wanting more!!
Perfect examples are the following two videos from one of my favorite concerts, Taylor's Hagerstown concert at the Maryland Theater.
In the first video just listen to the crowd roaring as Taylor prepares to give them his first of two encores for the night!!
He is already lost in the music as he strums the opening chords to "Happier With Him", and though this first video is not the entire song, it captures perfectly the crowd's response to Taylor - from the thunderous roaring prior to his appearance back on stage for his encore - to an audience so awestruck by what they were witnessing - you could hear a pin drop!
video capture by skeeter(Candy)
This second video is of the same Hagerstown performance minus the thunderous roaring from the audience.
It is Taylor's full performance of "Happier With Him" and the video is up close!
video capture by collins316
No one's music has ever touched me as Taylor's does, so today I'm thumbing my nose at the rotten treatment Taylor has received from AI and the PTB, and also at the multitude of bloggers who use his name to attract attention to themselves.
You will soon be singing a different song ... cause baby the best is yet to come - and it would do well to remember this cup of karma:
"The highest joy in life comes from staying true to yourself and finding the courage to live your dream"
That being said I'd like to introduce you to another performer with the courage to stay true to his music and live his dreams.
Singer, songwriter, and producer Kenny Vance has had a long and varied career in music that began in the late 1950's.
He formed the group Jay and the Americans, a group that recorded 15 albums, toured extensively and opened for The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for each of their first US performances.
The core of his interest in music was vocal harmony, from the doo wop groups with which he started out to his long tenure as a member of Jay and the Americans in the 1960's.
I was looking for a Jay and the Americans' "Only in America" video to fit in with the more or less AI theme I began with and ran across this musical comedy of "Only in America" - I think you'll appreciate some of the points made here!
It tells the unauthorized, partially-fictionalized story of real-life 1960's pop vocal legends Jay and The Americans.
The film illustrates their struggles with a fickle music industry, a New York mafia family, and, above all, each other!
Packed with retro costumes, fun celebrity impersonations and a bounty of great Rock and Roll performances, "Only in America" is a campy yet touching story about friendship, changing times, and the price of success.
Produced strictly as a portfolio piece, the film has not been released commercially.
In the 1990's, Kenny returned to his original love by forming his own neo-doo wop group, Kenny Vance & the Planotones.
When Kenny Vance started talking about creating a new band at 50, people said: "You're too old." "You're wasting your money." "There's too much competition." "Don't do it."
But he did it anyway and that reminds us that the highest joy in life comes from staying true to yourself and finding the courage to live your dream.
From the 1970's on, Kenny used his musical knowledge in a series of films while also releasing the occasional solo album.
Kenny Vance stars in "The Performer" music video.
Set in Brooklyn, New York in the 90's the soulful melody and authentic Doo-Wop talent make this a must see for fans interested in the rich history of the music and the place where it was born.
Before Lauryn Hill or "Sesame Street Doo Wop" this legenday performer blessed us with his perfect pitch and he is still rockin' crowds in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York and worldwide, a gentleman with soul in his doowop.
I hope you have enjoyed today's musical journey, please excuse my sidetracked rant and lengthy post, my final thought is today's cup.
"All things are subject to interpretation, whichever interpretation prevails at a given time - is a function of power and not truth."