Excerpt: 'Heart Full of Soul'

Former "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks pens his autobiography in "Heart Full of Soul."

The salt-and-pepper hair crooner writes about growing up in Alabama and life on the road. He also discusses how Hurricane Katrina put him on the path to superstardom. The book goes beyond Hicks' major pop-culture moment and sees what happened after America chose its idol.

Read an excerpt of this book below.

THE GRAY-HAIRED


Boy In The Bubble

YOU TAKE A TRIP TO THE CITY LIGHTS AND TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME --''Take the Long Way Home'' by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson

or the better part of a year, I'd been living inside a bubble called American Idol. While the rest of the world could look in and see me, the fact is, from where I stood stage right at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, California, on the evening of May 24, 2006, it was nearly impossible to see out. There I was, the gray-haired boy in the bubble, living out a strange but often thrilling version of the American dream in comfortable isolation.

In the exciting and exhausting weeks building up to the Idol finale, I'd get occasional calls from friends and family reporting on what was going on in the outside world. Still, I felt incredibly cut off—both physically and emotionally. Being at the center of the most-watched reality show in history turned out not to be the best vantage point from which to appreciate how big it all was. I knew this much, though: tonight—one way or another, win or lose—the bubble I was living in would burst in a very big and public way. All around me backstage at the Kodak—the same fancy venue where the real Hollywood stars gathered each year for the Oscars—there was a sort of focused commotion playing out. From producers to stagehands, the folks who put together American Idol were all experienced pros, proud veterans of show business wars, but even they seemed to be feeling the full heat of the spectacle. As I took in the scene, I saw the clocks counting down, signaling just minutes left before the much-hyped 2006 finale of American Idol would begin.

Standing near me was Ryan Seacrest—a good guy who appears to have been genetically engineered to stand in the TV and radio spotlight. The man is a broadcasting machine who never stops working. At that moment, Ryan was busy getting his makeup touched up so he'd be ready to take the stage and direct traffic on what had become the biggest show on earth.

Tonight there'd definitely be heavy—and glamorous— congestion with all sorts of superstars on hand to take part in the Idol festivities. Amazingly, music greats Prince, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Toni Braxton, Al Jarreau, and Meat Loaf were all here, as were Season 4 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood and the original Top 12 contestants from our season. Prince was keeping a low profile, though. Our surprise guest was hiding in his limo out back behind the Kodak Theater, where he'd stay until it was time for him to take the stage at night's end. To all of us producing and competing on the show, Prince was just this cool silhouette—a mysterious ghost of pure soulfulness.

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