‘American Idol’ Taylor Hicks is back in the spotlight

CLEVELAND - MAY 11: Recording artist Taylor Hicks sings the National Anthem prior to the Boston Celtics playing Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 11, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Taylor Hicks plays Bally’s through July 27. Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Is Taylor Hicks going to be on next year’s “American Idol” judges’ panel? He’s pleading the fifth right now, but he does have an opinion on who should next join the reality juggernaut: “I do think that a winner needs to judge,” he tells us.

Time will tell whether or not said winner will be Hicks, but in the meantime, he’s staying busy. The Season 5 “American Idol” champ is readying himself for a 10-show stint at Bally’s Atlantic City, which kicks off tonight. The singer will perform free shows at the hotel’s Blue Martini and Bikini Beach Bar.

Hicks, a native of Alabama, was the first headlining “Idol” in Las Vegas. Now, he returns to the Northeast for the first time in “quite some time,” something he’s “super excited” about.

It’s been seven years since Hicks took the “Idol” crown, and he’s been working since — recording albums (including one currently in the works) and even performing on Broadway. Though the reality show has had its ups and downs in the last few years — rotating judges, low ratings — Hicks has nothing but gratitude for the series that kicked off his career.

“I wanted to be an entertainer and an artist all my life, and to be able to win ‘American Idol’ at that time has allowed me to be a working entertainer for the last eight years,” he says. “I’m definitely counting my blessings and working as hard as I can.”

And working hard means giving audience-goers something they might not expect — a key, Hicks says, to staying in the music business.
“Reinvention is very important for me,” the singer says. “Not only do you have to blaze your own trail, you have to be the first to blaze the trail.”

Concertgoers at Bally’s can expect some songs from “Idol,” Hicks’ albums “and a couple of Vegas show tunes, maybe,” he says. He’ll be accompanied by a piano player and guitar player, and he’ll play the harmonica that won him many a fan.

So with so many casino concerts under his belt, should you be on the lookout for Hicks post-show at the Blackjack table?

“When you work in as many casinos across the country as I have for as long I have, luckily I’ll play craps every once in a blue moon, so maybe,” he says.


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