Taylor Hicks with special guest Brett Wiscons - 5/18/17
at City Winery Chicago
- 6:00 PM
- 8:00 PM
Taylor Hicks is one of the most beloved and popular AMERICAN IDOL winners of all time.
From the start, Hicks’ material on the mega-hit show set him apart, with a unique take on Southern soul, R & B, country and blues. Sixty-four million votes were cast and nearly 37 million American viewers and more than 200 million viewers worldwide tuned in to crown Hicks the Season 5 winner of AMERICAN IDOL, making it one of the most-watched TV events of the last decade.
Hicks’ star continued to rise after he stepped off the IDOL stage. Less than three weeks after his IDOL victory, his debut single, “Do I Make You Proud,” entered at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, Pop 100, and Single Sales Charts. Coinciding with the single’s release, a cover story named him People magazine’s “Hottest Bachelor of the Year.” His self-titled album (Arista), debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and was quickly certified RIAA Platinum. In 2007, Hicks penned a brisk-selling autobiography “Heart Full of Soul” (Random House). Hicks is the first male IDOL winner to be featured on a Grammy Award-winning album, Jimmy Fallon’s “Blow Your Pants Off,” which took home the 2013 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
On Broadway, Hicks starred in the hit musical, GREASE as Teen Angel, and when asked to join the national tour, happily agreed. The 18-month tour connected him with fans across North America.
In June 2012, Taylor Hicks began his residency at Bally's Las Vegas. As a testament to his musical talent and showmanship, Hicks will continue to bring the roadhouse to the Las Vegas Strip with a year-long extension through 2013 at a larger venue, Paris Las Vegas, making him the first Idol winner in history to secure a long term residency in Las Vegas. Hicks has since rapidly evolved into one of the most popular acts in the city. He will have an exclusive commitment to Caesars Entertainment, bringing his soulful ballads to other Caesars properties across the country throughout the year. On August 30, 2012 Hicks performed at the closing night of the 2012 Republican National Convention, playing to a crowd of 18,500 delegates in Tampa, Florida, and a national TV audience of over 30 million viewers.
Hicks, who hails from Birmingham, Ala., had music on his mind from childhood. As a young adult, he became a fixture around the Southeast, playing concerts and club dates with visiting stars like James Brown, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Robert Randolph, Keb’ Mo’ and Widespread Panic, among others. Hicks also released the independent albums “In Your Time” and “Under the Radar.” Later, these albums were compiled and released by Vanguard Records as “Early Works.” Hicks has also performed with artists like Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Gladys Knight, Earth Wind and Fire and The Allman Brothers, appearing in concerts worldwide. In addition to headlining at Paris Las Vegas and other Caesars Entertainment properties all over the United States in 2013, he is currently in studio working on his first country album.
About Brett Wiscons
Brett Wiscons was born in Chicago and raised in Plymouth, IN on a unique mélange of music ranging from vocal powerhouses Sade and Edwin McCain to rock bands Pearl Jam, the Eagles, and Hootie & the Blowfish. Within these influences, listeners will find his musical marriage – jangly pop, a dash of soul, and moody acoustics – creates a sound all his own. He says, “Growing up, I always heard the vocals first. That’s what drew me in to music to begin with – killer, and in some cases, haunting vocal melodies and lyrics.”
Wiscons didn’t have any formal training – unless you count eighth grade choir – when it came to learning the craft of singing. He would merely listen to whatever was on the radio at that time as well as digest countless tapes and CDs of his favorite artists. “I just sang along to the melody,” Wiscons says. “That’s probably why I am lost whenever anyone asks me to sing harmony – I only know how to sing lead!” He isn’t ashamed to admit that he booked his first vocal lesson this year. “I just want to get better,” he says. “I’ve wanted to get better for a while now – be it as a singer, songwriter, guitar player, or business man. I want to get to another level.”
His latest recording project – The Heineken Sessions Deluxe (HSD) – is primed to take him to that next strata. It is slated for an October 28, 2016 release via his own label, MAD Diamond Entertainment. For it, Wiscons paired up with two-time GRAMMY-winning producer, guitarist, and songwriter Mark Bryan in Awendaw, SC. (Bryan is a founding member of rock band Hootie & the Blowfish.) Containing ten tracks running the gamut from Americana to pop to rock to alt-country, HSD was written and recorded over a two-year period. “Writing and producing with Brett has been fun, and he’s become a good friend,” says Bryan. “From the first time I heard the hook of ‘Don’t Be the One,’ I knew people would be feeling it. I just listened to it for the first time in a while, and I feel like we did a nice job with it. Brett really found his voice on this recording.”
The tracks hit on personal sagas, but also contain works of pure fiction – he leaves it up to the listener to decide which is which. After all, Wiscons has written three private detective novels in the Bear Whitman series. “I’ve always enjoyed writing songs and lyrics,” Wiscons says. “It was a great way for me to escape into my own head when I was a teenager. However, it wasn’t until I started working with Mark back in 2013 that I began to truly grasp the concept of songwriting and storytelling. It’s time for these tunes to be released as a full collection. These are the best songs of my career and I am eager to share them with a wider audience.”
Brett has shared a bill with Darius Rucker, Zac Brown Band, and Katy Perry among others; he averages nearly 200 gigs a year. He knows the only way to climb the ladder in the music business – at least for him – is to put in the work and accumulate the miles. He’s performed at the Vans Warped Tour in Virginia Beach, the Bluebird in Nashville, and the Elbo Room in Chicago to name a few. Aside from his music being featured on Australian television, the new single (“Don’t Be The One”) has been added to stations in Knoxville, TN, Des Moines, IA, Flagstaff, AZ, Burlington, WI, and Indianapolis, as well as garnering specialty spins in a half dozen other markets including Tampa, FL and Boise, ID. The critics are starting to take note. Current Night & Day in Indianapolis writes, “If a smart radio programmer out there hears Wiscons and vocalist Anne Balbo harmonize on the poignant ‘Don’t Be the One,’ the first single from his new LP, The Heineken Sessions Deluxe, they’d be wise to place it in rotation.”