The Official Taylor's Angels Weblog

Taylor Hicks Fans Taying it Forward One Soul At A Time

Seven Mile Breakdown

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stephen….aka Taylor Hicks’ “Merch Guy”

Everyone who attended one of Taylor Hicks’ concerts over that last seven months surely encountered the smiling face of Stephen, the wonderfully friendly man usually positioned behind the merchandising table. Stephen’s effervescent personality always drew us into the area, whether it was to purchase more Taylor Hicks memorabilia or to simply say “hi” and receive a hug from a dear friend. One of the guys who traveled with Stephen during the long seven month Taylor Hicks tour described him in this manner: “The one thing that is very interesting about Stephen is that he is extremely intelligent and well versed on a variety of subjects. During the down time on tour, he was always reading a book. This is what makes him such an interesting person and so well-suited for his job. He can relate to others on so many levels. He is extremely conscientious and always goes the extra mile to help the crew and the fans as well.”

Stephen was gracious enough to answer some questions for Taylor’s Angels and to allow us all to get to know the “Merch Guy”.

TA: Most of the Soul Patrol knows you as the “Merch Guy”, but we know very little about you personally. Where did you grow up, what are your hobbies and do you have any musical abilities?

Stephen: I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Elvis’ birthday the year he died. My family moved around quite a bit when I was young. We moved from Louisiana to California to Florida then back to California, where we settled in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. I lived there until I was 22 years old and then moved to the Bay Area for a couple years. Now, I have ended up in Virginia.

Since I was nineteen years of age, my hobbies have pretty much involved being a part of the live music scene on as many levels as I could get myself into. Obviously, the easiest way for me to start that was going to as many shows of as many different bands as possible. I was initially drawn to the jam band scene for their supposed sense of community and family. I didn’t really find what I was looking for because the hippies of today are not the hippies of the past. But what it did instill in me was a love of being part of the live music experience and traveling the country to experience as many different adventures as possible.

I don’t have any musical abilities as far as playing instruments. Call this what you will, but I feel like it is an ability to be able to contribute your vibe and appreciation for music when it’s exceptional, because it is infectious and makes the live music experience better for everyone you are around as well.

TA: We read that you were the tour manager for Robert Randolph and Vusi Mahlasela. How does that compare to merchandising and which do you prefer?

Stephen: Being a tour manager was great. It was a completely different experience with the two bands. I was able to learn a different part of the industry which I’ve been able to apply to merchandise and touring in general, and that has been invaluable. Truthfully, I prefer merchandising because it allows me a higher level of interaction with the people at the shows that are being affected by the music. That is one of the major reasons why I love working in this industry. At the same time, I don’t close myself off to anything in the future because this whole experience has been very serendipitous, and everything that has happened to me has happened because it was supposed to.

TA: Have you been the "Merch Guy" for any other groups?

Stephen: I have done merchandising for Pseusopod, North Mississippi Allstars, Medeski Martin and Wood, David Gray, and Taylor Hicks. I also do merch for local venues in Charlottesville, Virginia when I’m not on tour.

TA: How did you get the gig with Taylor Hicks and what was it like working with him?

Stephen: I got the gig with Taylor through Musictoday, the company that was handling Taylor’s merchandise. I had worked there in the past and still have good friends there. Word came down that Taylor was looking for a merch manager. So someone let me know about it, I sent over my resume, and after a phone conversation that was that.

TA: What was your favorite city or cities during the Taylor Hicks tour? Did you get to do any site seeing?

Stephen: During the Taylor tour, we obviously went all over the country, and I had such great experiences most places I went. My favorites every time I go through are Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, New York, and Los Angeles. Some places I thought were great that I went through for the first time on Taylor’s tour were Orange Beach, Alabama, Vicksburg, Mississippi and Omaha, Nebraska.

I always try and get out and especially see the cities that I haven’t been to before, or cities that I have a particular affinity for. It’s also always nice to put yourself in spots where you can really get the local flavor of where you are, so I make it a point to make that happen if I’m able.

TA: Were there any inspirational or touching moments on the tour?

Seeing the way that Taylor’s music touches so many people of every different walk of life and how that music brings joy into their lives has been awesome. Since I am out talking to people every night I meet and hear so many great stories. It makes me thankful to be out with a guy like Taylor who cares so much about his fans and makes a difference in so many people’s lives.

TA: What is the funniest thing that happened to you on the tour?

Stephen: I would have to say that it was hanging out with Clay Conner and our friends at the FloraBama/ LiMBO show. If you were there, you know!

TA: What does the future hold for you?

Stephen: For right now, it looks like I’ll be staying with Taylor for a while. The music, the fans and the man himself are all great and it’s a good organization to be a part of.

TA: What are your duties at the Taylor Hicks Headquarters and what are your plans to improve the site?

Stephen: As far as my duties at THHQ, with Musictoday I am developing new and fun features for the site to hopefully keep people interested and coming back to see what we are going to add. It’s been a long process but I think the site has improved greatly over the past few months. We still have a few tricks up our sleeves that are on the horizon and we think once we roll them out there will be a lot of excitement and hopefully it will bring the community as a whole closer together.

TA: Do you have any surprises in the works regarding merchandise for the Soul Patrol on Taylor’s next tour?

Stephen: Of course I do, but if I told you what they were they would hardly be surprises!

TA: What is your overall opinion of the Soul Patrol?

Taylor’s fans are some of the kindest and most supportive fans that I have ever encountered in the live touring world. The Soul Patrol truly helps me remember why I am part of the live touring world and have taken this road in life.

Taylor’s Angels thanks Stephen for answering our questions and for allowing the Soul Patrol to see him in a different light. We wish him much success and look forward to seeing the exciting changes coming to the Taylor Hicks Headquarters. We also look forward to seeing Stephen’s smiling face on future Taylor Hicks’ tours!

Written by Tina Shaddix (DidNotExpectThat)

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Clay Connor.....Southern Inspired

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All of the Soul Patrol has gotten to know and love Clay Connor over the past few months. He was a big part of Taylor Hicks' concert tour this summer. Clay has released his own CD and we interviewed him to introduce his incredible talent to the Soul Patrol.

Clay Connor was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Clay then moved to Jacksonville,Alabama and that is where his musical career took off.Clay formed a band called Cool Beans in 1994 and they created the CD "Pipe Dreams". Clay has since played with the Taylor Hicks Band,Daniel Hutchens and Eric Carter of Bloodkin.Clay has returned to Birmingham, Alabama and has released his own CD with his band The Crimminals called "Maryland Ave".

TA: Tell us about yourself musically and personally.

Clay: I have been playing on the road for 12 to 13 years with my band, Taylor Hicks and Bloodkin. I also enjoy sports!

TA: What performer has been your musical inspiration?

Clay: Danny Hutchens from Bloodkin is incredible, so was Lowell George.I also love my man Jay Farrar from Son Volt.Songwriting is a big part of it.

TA:What other touring opportunities have you had?

Clay:I did an acoustic tour out west with Bloodkin.Taylor and I have played off and on for years.

TA:You have just come off a grueling tour with Taylor. Was there one particular highlight or concert etched in your mind?

Clay: There have been several real incredible moments.The show with Dan Akroyd was pretty rockin in Canada.But it had to be the Wharf at OB when Jon Cook came out and did "Abraham-Martin and John". It was special.

TA: How did your other band members handle your absence during the summer as you toured with Taylor?

Clay:They don't miss me, are you kidding?

TA:If this was your first experience riding in a tour bus, how was it?

Clay: It was pretty cool to say the least.You get to know people very well like Stephen.

TA:How long have you known Taylor Hicks and what has been your association with him?

Clay:I have known him probably 10 to 12 years.He is probably one of the funniest people I have ever met.God Bless him.
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The "Hand Off" . Taylor Hicks and Clay Connor.
(Picture Credit: Miriam Greenberg)

TA:For those who live in your area , where might we find you performing on a Friday or Saturday night?

Clay:Local bars and pubs.Also I go to the beach and play at the Flora-Bama.

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(photo credit: Cassidy)

TA:What are your plans for your future music? How can the Soul Patrol help forward your career?

Clay:I just want to spread my music nationally.I am trying to get some labels interested in my new CD and for people to buy it.

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TA:Where can we watch Clay Connor perform this fall?

Clay:Hopefully everywhere Myspace has my dates.

Clay's Schedule:

Oct 24 2007 8:00P

Oct 25 2007 8:00P

Oct 26 2007 8:00P

Nov 2 2007 8:00P

Nov 3 2007 8:00P

Nov 16 2007 8:00P

Nov 22 2007 11:00P

Nov 23 2007 8:00P

Dec 6 2007 10:00P

Dec 20 2007 10:00P

Clay Connor - The Nick - Birmingham, Alabama 7/19/07

Clay Connor's new CD Maryland Ave:

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Here is a track from the CD ....enjoy!

Get your own at Profile

To purchase Clay Connor's CD please visit: We thank Clay for answering our questions and wish him much success with his CD and upcoming projects.
See you on the road Clay!

Written by: Teri Noboa (Cydter)

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Hero Comes Home To Millersville

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A couple of months ago, I received an email from Soldiers' Angels. There was a man in the Air Force stationed in Kuwait, 20 miles from Iraq, who was looking for a Heart Full Of Soul book by Taylor Hicks. I hadn't checked my troop drive email for several days, and when I did check it, there was an email from this man to me too. He knew about the Proud Of Our Troops drive and wanted to read Taylor's book. So off went a box of goodies, including Taylor's Heart Full Of Soul book, to my new buddy Ted. We corresponded via emails, and then another twist of fate took place. Ted told me that he was from PA, and he went to college in Millersville before he was called overseas for active duty. He was set to come back home shortly before Taylor's concert, and he wanted to know if I knew of any way he could get tickets to Taylor's Millersville concert. Being in Kuwait, there was no way for Ted to buy the tickets to the concert. All I could think was "Wow, this is fate!" I proceeded to tell Ted that I run the Proud Of Our Troops drive by myself, but what a coincidence because I was also part of Taylor's Angels, and that is part of what our group does. Not a problem, I told him. If he wanted to go to Taylor's concert, then he would go.

I prayed that Ted would arrive home safely, and also that he wouldn't get last minute notice that he had to stay overseas longer than he expected. I pestered my Taylor's Angels group with questions and worries. "You don't think he'll get notice that he has to stay longer, do you?," I'd ask with worry. My Taylor's Angels group lovingly and patiently answered the same questions over and over to keep me from worrying. Then the email I was waiting for finally came. Ted had arrived home safely! I was so happy for him! His active duty was finally over and he could start his life anew.

Taylor's Angels kicked into gear to get Ted and his family to the concert. He was excited that he was going to his first Taylor Hicks concert. A reporter contacted him to do a story on him. The story has yet to come out, but hopefully when it does, we can put it here. The wonderful hearted concert promoter was so touched by Ted's story that he also wanted to do something nice for Ted. He got Ted and his family meet and greets! How exciting for Ted! He was going to meet Taylor! Although I did not go to the Millersville concert, Ted told me that he had an awesome time. Fate had struck once again. A man so far away wanted Taylor's book and a way to get concert tickets, and he ended up talking to the very person who ran a Heart Full Of Soul book drive to the troops and was part of a group who could get him the concert tickets. A man who spent years in a hot desert, doing his part to keep our country free, was finally home safe and sound, and got to do some very special things. God bless Ted. God bless the troops.

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Jean (PurpleButterflies)

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Taylor Hicks.. A Positive Role Model For A Special Young Girl

Taylor Hicks
has touched many people from all walks of life with his compassionate and caring heart, especially for children and those with disabilities. Taylor always reaches out to help bring a smile and make the day a little brighter to those that he meets at his concerts and the various charities that he is an integral part of.

Over the past several months there have been many stories written and shared how Taylor has inspired and reached out to someone who needed their spirits lifted either with a smile or a kind word or simply a handshake or hug.

Taylor Hicks has encouraged and inspired many thru his music and kindness and has altered and changed many lives in small and big ways. Taylor’s Angels was recently made aware of one such person who has been touched in a big way by Taylor. Her name is Mallorie. Mallorie's mother has asked us to share her story.

Mallorie is a “very special” young six year old girl. She is special because she displays courage in the face of having to deal with several very serious illnesses--one of which is a heart condition. Mallorie has endured many surgeries and is facing more.

As a result of her medical condition, Mallorie developed a very low self esteem. She would sleep for many hours during the day. All she would watch on TV were the shows that all children her age watch and she would only listen to kids songs. Her family knew about American Idol and started watching Season Five from the beginning. Interestingly, Mallorie began intently watching every episode sitting in her mother’s lap. When Taylor Hicks walked out at the audition Mallorie listened to him and her first reaction was to jump up and say “He’s gonna win!”. From that point on she never missed a show, Taylor stole her heart.

She mentioned his name several times a day and the night he won the whole family was overcome with joy, especially Mallorie. The more she listened to him over the weeks, she related to him in some type of way, such as the way he would stay true to himself. She took in everything Taylor said or did. Now she feels that even though she is different from other kids she will not try to change, she tries to make the best of her life just as Taylor has done. His music has helped her so much, that she is always listening to him whether at the doctor’s office or in the hospital. She has talked to the doctors and nurses about Taylor. In fact she has converted many of them to Taylor fans. Her biggest and only wish was to someday meet Taylor, whereas other children wanted to go to Disneyland.

Her family believes in the power of prayer and in God. They have been praying that Mallorie’s dream would one day soon come true. With all the medical expenses that have been incurred by the family, plus a job loss in the interim, they weren’t sure how this would be possible, but prayed that somehow God would watch over Mallorie until it was possible for her to one day see Taylor in person.

Someone from the Americal Idol board, a wonderful woman by the name of Debbie, heard about Mallorie and contacted us. Debbie told Taylor's Angels the heartwarming story about Mallorie and her dream, and we completely fell for this child. Mallorie's mother has asked us to tell the Soul Patrol about her brave daughter.

Mallorie and her family live near Orange Beach, where Taylor would be playing in concert on September 2nd. The family knew that they had to go. As fate would have it, Mallorie was able to actually meet her Idol before the show.

When Debbie heard about this Meet and Greet that was about to take place, she sent us this wonderful email: "This is such wonderful news. I have the biggest smile on my face!"

As you know, Mallorie had a dream to see, meet or talk to Taylor Hicks. The day of the concert, all of her dreams were about to come true.

This is the email that Taylor’s Angels received from Renee Sullivan after they returned from the show.
“We truly had the most wonderful time. These memories will last us a lifetime...Mallorie’s dream [has] come true. Please share the pics with all the Angel’s... With Love, Renee”

This is Renee Sullivan’s message to all:

“I would like to post how wonderful you all have been to us. It touched me and my family that strangers came and did so much for us, you are friends now, dear friends that we will always be grateful to, even if this wouldn’t have happened for Mallorie, I have looked over Taylor’s Angels website. You all are doing wonderful things for people. I hope in turn you all are blessed for all you are doing.

The children were thrilled to meet Taylor as you will probably see in the pictures. Taylor is so unbelievably nice to children. Especially to be a single man with no children, he has turned out to be a good and true Idol for us as well as every bodies children. Off to my motherly duties now. I hope you all enjoy the pictures. With love, Ren.”

Mallorie’s mother also says that she is thankful for many things that have happened to the family and also “Taylor Hicks for being a good role model and positive person for my children”.She says he has brought Mallorie so far in life and has made her change the way she acts and thinks. She has become more outgoing, free spirited and is not shy at all anymore. She even does the Soul Patrol shout out that Taylor does. After meeting Taylor she is happier and her health seemed to improve a little. He has taken a little girl that has been so sick for so long in her short six years and put the spirit back into her life. She smiles more and dances to Taylor’s music. Mallorie wakes up everyday with a good outlook and follows all the rules to a ‘T’ and says I’m doing it for Taylor.

Mallorie’s mother also says that “Everybody is surprised how a grown man has had that impact on such a young soul. But then we realize, Taylor Hicks can get to everybody’s soul”. This man has taken my daughter’s life and changed it for the better. And even more so after meeting him”.

When Mallorie met Taylor she had him sign her scrapbook that the Soul Patrol made for her. She told him to sign a picture of her. Then she asked Taylor if he would marry her!! Taylor told her that he was going to keep her picture so he would always remember her.

This is a remarkable story of a brave girl who has battled illness and remained brave. She never gave up and had a dream to someday see or meet Taylor Hicks. Her dreams were fulfilled. Taylor never gave up on his dream and neither did Mallorie.
Taylor Hicks' compassion, caring and love for children touched this young girl’s heart and made all of her dreams come true. Dreams that will last in her heart forever.

God Bless Taylor Hicks for being a positive role model and having an impact not only for Mallorie but also all the children and people that are influenced by his compassionate and caring heart.

Renee wanted Mallorie's story posted and brought to the Soul Patrol. Mallorie needs all of our prayers right now. We ask that you pray for this family and Mallorie’s well being.

Written by Mary Ann (maryann1)

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Gift From Taylor Hicks

Taylor's Angels has heard so many inspiring stories this past year and a half from so many different people in the Soul Patrol. So, we have decided to ask some of them if they wanted to share their inspirational stories with you. This first story that we have collected is from Judy, aka JSNorris. Thank you, Judy and I hope the rest of the Soul Patrol enjoys it as much as we did.

I guess you can say, Taylor Hicks has given me a gift…actually several gifts, but one tends to stand out among the rest. That gift is Courage.

Before Taylor came into my world, I was content to stay within a certain “comfort zone.” I was a certified homebody…rarely venturing away from home and my husband, except to go to work. Taylor entered my life and the next thing I knew; I was making plans to meet other Soul Patrol members and making plans to attend concerts as far away from Birmingham as Seattle, Washington. I was getting out and about and actually having fun for the first time in a very long time…and making new friends from all over the country and Canada.

Believe it or not, Courage played a big role in all of these experiences since I am basically a very shy, introverted person. It took a tremendous amount of courage to put myself out there like I did…BUT, I did it and I’m a better person for it. However, there is one event where this gift of Courage made its biggest impact. Taylor’s concert appearance in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 4, 2007…and that requires a bit of a back story to explain the importance of this one concert.

In January of 1977, my parents decided to go to New Orleans to visit some old friends, eat some good Cajun food and listen to some good music. They flew to New Orleans on Friday, January 14 and had planned to return home on Monday, January 17, but sadly, fate had other plans for my parents.

Late on the night of January 15, they had stepped out of their hotel room to go get a bite to eat. As they stepped off the curb to cross the street, a car that seemed to come out of nowhere, struck my parents, throwing my Mom 42 feet and my Dad 72 feet…killing him instantly. I received a phone call around midnight informing me of the accident, my

Mom’s serious injuries and my Dad’s death. I had been told that my Mom would not be informed of my Dad’s death until I arrived at the hospital to tell her. That drive to New Orleans, in the middle of the night, was the longest trip of my life. At the age of 23, I would be the one to tell my mother about my father’s death…the total opposite of what I had always envisioned. Since my Mom had been seriously injured and was unable to do so, the arrangements to bring my Dad home and plan his funeral fell to me. Seems I had a lot of growing up to do that week and I had to do it fast…and I had to do it alone! After his funeral, I returned to New Orleans to bring my Mom home to continue her recovery in a hospital here in Birmingham.

As I left New Orleans that final time with my Mom, I told myself, I could never return to this city again…the memories of that weekend were just too painful. For 30 years I held strong to that resolve. Over those 30 years, I turned down many opportunities to go to New Orleans, but, I would not allow myself to return. However, little did I know that because of Taylor Hicks, I would indeed return to the city where my Dad lost his life.

Early in the summer of 2007, plans were being made right and left to attend several of Taylor’s concerts. Going to Vicksburg? “Yep, you bet!!” He’s going to be in Biloxi, you want to go? “Of course, I do!!” Then, my friend sends me a PM…Taylor would be making a stop in New Orleans that same week Are you in??? That’s when I felt myself slam on the brakes…hard!!! Oh, no, New Orleans? I told my friend my story and why I had never returned and why I felt I could never return to New Orleans. As always, she completely understood the way I felt and told me that it would be okay if I didn’t want to go. As the PMs went back and forth about the trip, I began to hear a voice that kept whispering in my ear, “Maybe, it is time to go back, you CAN do it.” I sent my friend a PM, telling her that I did, indeed, want to go. I mean what better place to see Taylor in concert than the city where his American Idol journey began. It was time to go back…and it was Taylor who had given me the courage to finally say “Yes” to a trip to New Orleans. I could no longer allow the events of 30 years ago keep me from having a good time, being with good friends…and best of all, seeing Taylor in concert. After all, New Orleans had always been one of my Dad’s absolute favorite cities…he loved it there. I knew my Dad would wholeheartedly approve…perhaps, it was his voice I heard whispering in my ear that day.

It wasn’t until we were in our hotel room, in New Orleans, that I realized just how important this trip was for me. I stood at the window of our room on the 38th floor, looking out over the city of New Orleans and tears fell down my face…first, in sorrow, for what had happened there in 1977…then, in joy, for what was happening that day in 2007…this time a much happier reason. Silently, I thanked God for helping me return. Then I said a silent, “Thank you” to Taylor Hicks, for it was because of him that I was standing at that window on the 38th floor of a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, getting ready to see him perform in a concert later that night. Taylor Hicks had given me the courage to do something I thought I would never, could never, do again. I was finally able to put a piece of the past, a very painful past, behind me…right where it belonged. I think my Dad would be rather proud of me. I know I am.

Thank you, Taylor Hicks, for giving me the gift of Courage…as well as the gift of your music and the joy you’ve brought into my life over the last year and a half. I can’t wait t see what you have in store for us in the coming months.

Written By:Judy Norris (JSNorris) Published by: Leslie (lmo4taylor)