By Kelly Baughman

American Idol winner Taylor Hicks is coming home with his 2nd Annual Back to the Bama Bash Friday, June 21st at 9 pm.
Hicks, who originally hails from Birmingham, Alabama, rose to fame with his win on the fifth season of American Idol. While he’s traveled the world pursuing his singing, acting, and restaurateur careers, Hicks said the Gulf Coast is a place he will always consider a part of him.
“My grandmother and some other family members live in Gulf Shores, so I grew up spending a lot of time down here. It’s a big part of who I am as a person and a musician,” Hicks said.
In his early days, Hicks cut his teeth in local Gulf Coast bars and venues, namely the Flora-Bama. “I remember walking in there and watching these amazing musicians and songwriters and feeling inspired. There’s a special kind of magic when you walk through those doors, and it definitely captured me,” he said. Over the next several years, Hicks frequented the Bama stages with his unique fusion of soul, funk, rock, and country all grooming him for the career he was destined for.
Hicks said that his ride on American Idol was like a dream, and while it wasn’t always easy, he learned a lot about the industry. “I am lucky that I got to work with industry giants like Clive Davis who discovered artists like Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, and Whitney Houston. There’s so much more that goes in to being and artist and putting out an album other than being a great singer. My experience with American Idol showed me that, and taught me the ins and outs of the industry. I’m thankful for that, and it made me stronger,” Hicks said.
Since his Idol days, Hicks has released two studio albums, and the highly acclaimed 2017 single, ‘Six Strings and Diamond Rings’, a “stirring, stripped-down track offering up a tantalizing preview of Hicks’ forthcoming third album, a deeply personal, roots-inspired collection recorded at Zac Brown’s Southern Grind Studio in Nashville”. The new album, to be released this year, features contributions from 4 time GRAMMY winning artist Keb’ Mo and Robert Randolph. Produced by Hicks himself, along with GRAMMY winning guitarist Bryan Sutton, the album is expected to be a refreshing example of Hicks’ raw talent and magnetic soul.
In addition to the new album, Hicks has been busy at work with his acting career. With appearances and rolls in television and theater like ‘Law & Order : SVU’ and touring as Teen Angel in the Broadway musical ‘Grease’, Hicks said he is enjoying exploring a new avenue in his career. “Acting has opened up a whole new world for me. Being able to make the leap to acting from music has helped make me a more well-rounded performer over all. I think to stay relevant in this industry you have to bring more to the table than just one talent. I’m really enjoying branching out into the acting world, and intend on continuing that in the future,” he said.
Hicks just wrapped up a starring role as Charlie Anderson in the Serenbe Playhouse production of the 1974 Broadway musical, ‘Shenandoah’, and has hosted his own food and travel show, ‘State Plate’, now in its third season on the INSP television network.
Hicks said that his passion for food that he gained in the state of Alabama inspired him to open his own restaurant, SAW’s BBQ & Juke Joint in Birmingham. The menu features Carolina style smoked pulled pork, chicken and ribs, served plain with bottles of three styles of sauce on the table. “I love southern food. Fried okra, BBQ, and fresh Gulf seafood…it doesn’t get any better than that,” Hicks said.
Having been featured in Southern Living, Garden & Gun, Alabama Eats, and more, Hicks’ SAW’s BBQ has been named the #1 BBQ joint on the Cooking with Paula Deen Magazine’s list of Best BBQ Places in America, and one of the “25 Best BBQ Spots in America” by Men’s Journal.
Hicks said he loves coming to his home in Gulf Shores and taking to the water to catch his own fresh fish for southern dishes. “When I come down here, I’m just a regular guy. I love getting out and fishing, cooking, and boating. There’s just something soothing about Gulf Shores that I haven’t found anywhere else, and I’m always happy to get back here. It feels like home,” he said.
Hicks will return “home” for his June 21st Back to the Bama show, where he said he will showcase a few of his newest songs from his highly anticipated upcoming album. The standard Flora-Bama cover charge will apply ($5 for 21+ and $15 for 18-20), but there will be no additional fee to see his performance.
Hicks said of his Gulf Coast homecoming, “I really love playing at the Flora-Bama, and I love giving back to those who have supported me since day one. I want them to know that I never forget where I came from, and their continued love for me means everything.”
For more information on the Back to the Bama Bash, visit www.florabama.com or www.perdidokeylive.com.