Taylor Reuben Hicks (born October 6, 1976 in Birmingham, Alabama) is an American soul singer, songwriter, and musician who is a finalist on the fifth season of American Idol. Hicks is best known for his stage presence, gray hair, bluesy singing voice, eccentric dance moves, and harmonica playing.
Hicks was born at Saint Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham. As an infant, he had blond hair. His hair color turned dark brown/black as an adolescent, and then grey as a young adult. He and his family moved to suburban Hoover when he was 8 years old. His parents divorced when he was 8, and his father Brad and stepmother Linda shared custody until he became of age. His half-brother, Sean, is a student at Georgia Tech and plays trumpet in the school's jazz band.
Growing up in Hoover, Hicks played Little League baseball, golf and varsity basketball (Hicks is 6'1"). The first time he performed for his grandmother when he was 12 years old he sang Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness", causing her to assume her grandson never had music lessons. However, she was wrong. Hicks was in choir throughout middle and high school. According to his father, when he was 5 years old he sang to random strangers the music of Kenny Rogers or Michael Jackson, to name a few. Hicks' music reflects his favorites from that era: the classic songs of Redding, Sam Cooke, and Ray Charles. He plays guitar as well as blues harp and writes most of his own songs. He bought a USD$2 harmonica at a local flea market when he was 16 and has been playing harmonica ever since. He has worked with Nashville veterans Billy Earle McClelland and Percy Sledge.
Hicks was a former student of Berry High School and graduated from Hoover High School in 1995. He attended Auburn University for a semester, lost interest and dropped out. Later he graduated from University of Alabama at Birmingham. Hicks had a small following in the state of Alabama for his performances at dive nightclubs and other local venues. His trademark was Hawaiian shirts, and slacks that didn't quite match. He released two independent albums, In Your Time (1997) and Under the Radar (2005), prior to appearing on Idol; the latter was made available at local music outlets in the Birmingham area. Hicks has also spoken on Tapestry, a radio program on National Public Radio affiliate WBHM in Birmingham, in December 2005.
Hicks has also worked at a shopping mall and would dress up as the Easter Bunny for Easter and spring promotions.
Hicks has two goldfish, Lamont and Ray.