It was May of 2006 when music enthusiasts nationwide glued their eyes to their television screen to see if soul-blues artist Taylor Hicks would win “American Idol” over runner-up Katharine McPhee.
After charming judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and America – Hicks’ inked a record deal that changed the trajectory of his life. Following the historic finale that drew in more than 200 million viewers – the soulful singer graced the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, scored a Las Vegas residency, and became the first male “American Idol” champion featured on a GRAMMY-winning [ Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Blow Your Pants Off’] record.
His rapid rise to fame in the music industry opened several doors in Hollywood – leaving Hicks to press pause on his singing career to pursue different ventures. Nearly a decade later, the singer-songwriter releases “Porch Swing.” His latest single serves as a sneak peek to his forthcoming collection.
“I haven’t released music in 10 years. Living in Nashville, I was able to really have the tools to finish the record. Before Christmas, Bobby Bones talked about Idol and said he was a big fan. I got a call from the show’s producer, and they asked me if I would come on…I haven’t been on Bobby’s show yet, and I’m a big fan. I said, ‘this would be a great time to release ‘Porch Swing.'”
Bobby Bones is a radio and television personality, known for his nationally syndicated ‘The Bobby Bones Show.’ When Ryan Seacrest stepped down as host of “American Idol,” the country insider and frequent Idol mentor took his place. Hicks experienced a full-circle moment when he debuted the highly anticipated (Feb. 20) single on the morning program.
Hicks penned “Porch Swing” alongside Runaway June’s Jennifer Wayne and esteemed songsmith Jason Deeree. The percussion-soaked ballad sonically displays Hicks’ soulful-country sound and vibrant wordplay. Their use of imagery paints a vivid picture of a man reflecting on conversations he had on a “Porch Swing.” The ear-grabbing guitar licks intertwined with his nonchalant delivery transformed the easy-going track into a perfect Sunday morning jam or a breezy joyride anthem.
Hicks exclusively told Celeb Secrets that the underlining message rolled off their tongue and was easy to record in Zac Brown’s Southern Ground studio in music city.
“There’s a lot of porch swings all over the country that have been the centerpiece of people’s lives,” the powerhouse told CS reporter Tiffany Goldstein. “I think it’s one of the strongest songs on the new record, and I jumped at the chance to record it and release it.”
The “American Idol” alum turned hitmaker said that the heartwarming single was inspired by eye-opening conversations he would have with his late grandmother on a porch swing.
“I would sit with my grandmother and talk to her. She was a big part of my life. We had some really great conversations about all kinds of things – that is something I remember vividly,” he said with a frog in his throat. “She played a big part in my life. She was a really sweet lady. We started writing all of those memories, and they came rushing in. I hope the song does this for other people as well.”
Hicks did not fail to point out that Wayne brought her A-game to the writing table and how it was an honor to work with one of the most talented females in country.
“She’s a great writer,” stressed the vocalist. “She’s always been a staple in Nashville as far as being in writing circles. She’s a good guitar player and a good singer. It was just really sweet and great songwriting session. Writing a groovy song like that, especially lyrically, is a strong start. Those are the easiest and quickest to write.”
Despite his impressive directory, Hicks strongly believes that “Porch Swing” represents who he is as an artist. He credits Chris Stapleton, Tyler Childers, and Jackson Browne for inspiring his artistry and forging a path for Southern soul musicians like himself.
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“It’s a great representation of who I am as an artist. I am a country-soul artist,” Hicks acknowledged. “Chris Stapleton and Tyler Childers paved the way for me, and I’m really happy that people have responded to that country soul sound. That’s what I grew up on, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.”
Hicks’ is a man of his word, as his storytelling soul and tender pipes encouraged listeners to cast their ballot back in the early 2000s. After America propelled him into the spotlight, his southern charm garnered a devoted fan base and sold-out shows worldwide. His secret recipe for longevity and success is – patience.
“During the time that I was on Idol, it was such a big show. Having that launching pad allowed me to truly be in show business. Going on about 15 years now,” he recalled before giving future contestants and aspiring musicians a piece of advice. “Patience is a virtue. You have to be patient and understand that this business is based on peaks and valleys.”
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He continued to justify his perspective, “It’s not necessarily what you do at your peak, but it’s how you handled the valley. I think you just have to find things that you intuitively enjoy. You have to work extremely hard. If you want longevity in the business, you’ve got to be able to never say no and work as much as you can.”
Hicks is set to maintain the positive momentum by embarking on an Armed Forces Entertainment tour in March. Following the run overseas, the crooner will drop his full-length album. The forthcoming collection is due to drop at the end of 2023.
Will you be adding “Porch Swing” to your daily rotation? Let us know by leaving a reaction below or by tweeting us at @CS_Country.