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NUTS About Taylor Hicks

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taylor-hicks-group.JPG Working at Southwest, you never know what opportunities each day will bring.  Those opportunities can be particularly exciting when you are an Attorney for Southwest!  For me, the people-related opportunities are the best.  As you're about to hear, such people stories are nothing short of pure entertainment--American Idol style!

A few weeks ago, a fan of Taylor Hicks called Southwest.  Lucky for me, being a fan of his myself, the call was directed to my department.  Our receptionist, Teri Lambert, took the call.  Seems Taylor Hicks was coming to town, and this fan wanted to make sure we knew about Taylor's Southwest connection.

Taylor auditioned for American Idol in Las Vegas, Nevada in October 2005.  Now, if you know your Taylor Hicks trivia, you know he is not a Vegas native.  Rather, he is from Birmingham, Alabama.  So, how do you suppose Taylor got to his auditions?  Hmmm...two Southwest cities...a travel voucher from Southwest due to his earlier New Orleans flight being cancelled because of Katrina...  You guessed it!  He flew Southwest, of course!

According to Taylor in his book, Heart Full of Soul, when he told his Dad he was going to audition, his Dad asked why he didn't just buy a lottery ticket.  After he won, Taylor explained that he viewed his Southwest voucher as his winning lottery ticket, and he sure wished the folks at Southwest would hook him up with a copy so he could frame it.

Teri relayed this to me, and nothing more need have been said.  We were on a mission!  Fortunately, Teri's father was in the entertainment business, and she knew the ropes of how to get connected.  Within ten minutes, she had already talked to Taylor's agent, and we had a plan.  We would pull together the electronic ticket information, voucher, and a few special items to make the frame complete and surprise him by presenting it to him before his August 31 concert in Dallas at a "Meet and Greet."  Now, we just had to wait until the big day arrived, and hope no one let the cat out of the bag to spoil the surprise. 

The anticipation was killing me.  I planned on taking my six-year-old daughter, Nicole, but was afraid to tell her too soon just in case the plan fell apart.   You see, she's a HUGE fan of Taylor Hicks.  When American Idol first aired the auditions for the 2006 season, she picked Taylor out to win immediately. He had her at, "Hello."  When I finally told her, I asked her, "What would you wear if you were going to meet Taylor Hicks?"  She answered, "A ball gown!"  (You'll note in the picture, that's not what she ended up wearing.)taylor-hicks-with-daughter.JPG

The big day finally arrived.  Off we went to the House of Blues to meet Taylor and present him with the framed items which included his electronic ticket information, a voucher with his flight information, a photo of Nevada One, and quote from his book with a signed message from Southwest's President, Colleen Barrett.  "Taylor, From our Heart to Yours, Thanks for flying on our LUV airline - come back soon & often! xoxo, Colleen Barrett, President, Southwest Airlines."  In addition, we took him a Southwest golf bag and bags and bags of peanuts.  I had done a little research and knew he loved to play golf, and we figured he could use a snack on his bus trips.  Our entourage consisted of me, Nicole, Teri, and another of our American Idol-loving Attorneys, Michael Aubuchon.

In addition to us, there were about sixteen fans attending the Meet and Greet.  These weren't just any fans, but true blue, soul searching fans of the highest order.  Jonelle, the fan who had initially called Teri, was even present.  The fans we met were charming.  They were the type of people who fill your heart with joy just listening to them and sharing their excitement.  They all knew the "Taylor flew on Southwest and wanted a copy of the ticket" story, and their eyes filled with tears of happiness when they found out the folks at Southwest had come through for Taylor. (No kidding, tears were shed!)

After descending the stairs, we entered the double doors into the main floor of the House of Blues.  Taylor sat behind a table looking fantastic.  His fans went one by one to sit by him, say a few words, obtain an autograph, and have photos taken.  We had been saved for last.  We were trying to hide the presents, and it seemed he kept looking curiously over in our direction.  What could those folks be up to?

When it was finally our turn, I was given the honors of being the spokesperson.  After we all shook hands and introduced ourselves, I explained we were the folks from Southwest that he mentioned in his book, and that we were there to present him with what he had described as his winning lottery ticket!  We made the presentation.  Success!  He was surprised, and . . .  he was thrilled!  

Taylor was a pleasure to meet.  taylor-hicks-reads-gift.JPGHe was genuinely thankful that we made the effort for him, and, in turn, made us feel special and appreciated.  And, the biggest prize for me as a mom was how he paid attention to and talked to Nicole.  Needless to say, she was beaming the whole time. 

We were given tickets to stay for the concert.  Tremendous performance!  And, I was able to meet even more fans.  taylor-hicks-singing.JPGShout out to Cliff who's been to numerous Taylor performances across the country with his wife; and to Lola, who flew all the way from San Diego for the concert.  Indeed, shout out to all of Taylor's fans!  And remember, when you are checking out Taylor's next gig, check to see if you too can fly Southwest Airlines to get there!  Soul Patrol!

Explorer C
What a marvelous surprise for Taylor -- getting a framed copy of his voucher/winning lottery ticket from the good folks at Southwest Airlines along with the sundry other goodies. I also read his book "A Heart Full of Soul" and thought how nice it would be for someone at Southwest to be aware of Taylor's hope to get a copy of the voucher. Imagine my surprise when I read Jollene's post about the wonderful people at Southwest and their efforts to obtain the prized voucher. Then for you guys to be present for the presentation was the crowning touch. I can just see Taylor's face -- it is very expressive. So happy your little girl also got her wish -- as you have seen, Taylor is so sweet with kids. They just love him. My thanks to your group for all you've done. Now, why don't you work on getting Taylor to star in either one of your print or television advertisements!??? (smile) juliegr
Explorer C
Cindy, I just read this article which was picked up on one of Taylor's phorums. I shed tears reading it. Even though I had heard about the presentation from Southwest to Taylor, reading through your article brought it home and made it more real. I am so thrilled that you did this for Taylor as I know it meant a lot to him. I wish I could have been there to see his face when you presented it to him. What you have done for him is just the sweetest thing and I know it will be a treasure for him for all time. Your daughter is adorable and how fun for her to meet Taylor. Taylor seems to love children and is so sweet with them. So happy your daughter had the opportunity to meet him. And just as a side-note, Southwest is my airline of choice. If it goes where I am going, I fly Southwest. Already this year I have flown to Las Vegas and have flights booked to Chicago in October (I live in Kansas City). I love your airline. Again, thanks for what Southwest did for Taylor. It is so very appreciated--both by Taylor and all his fans.
Explorer C
I am glad Taylor finally got "his winning Lottery Ticket" framed. But after reading your story I find that SW seems to have left the fan who started the entire ball rolling waiting in the wings (pun intended) It is a wonderful thing SW did and there may have been lots of legal red tap to go through but I think on ethics alone Jonelle should have been in that group picture and a big part of the presentation. Seems like she is only mentioned as a side not, but if she had never brought Taylor's request printed in "Heart Full of Soul" this event would have never happened. But SW got it's photo op, and free publicity, all from her idea! Just does not seem right to me. SW just should have included her more in the process. Just a thought! TF1975
Explorer C
Can you show us a close-up picture of the framing?
Explorer C
What a Wonderful Story!!! Thank you for making it happen, and taking the initiative to make it happen for Taylor. He did, indeed, mention this being his Lottery Ticket in his book.. He must have been so surprised, & thrilled when he saw the ticket - his ticket to Fame... I always fly Southwest. I live in Florida, and fly S.W. several times a year. In fact, I will be booking my next flight tonight from Ft. Lauderdale - Philadelphia - for Taylor's Concert in Millersville, PA!! Thank you again from a HUGE TAYLOR FAN! Debbie
Explorer C
Fabulous story. Just flew back from Baltimore tonight via SouthWest. The flight crew always make the trip upbeat and fun.
Explorer C
I loved reading your story. A big thank you to Southwest and you for making this special moment for Taylor. Believe me when I have the opportunity I will choose to fly Southwest! Any company that would go to so much trouble to fill a simple request is a class act in my book! Your daughter is a real cutie, and lucky, too. I'm glad you and she had the opportunity to meet Taylor and see first-hand what a kind and generous person he is. As you learned the Soul Patrol is filled with devoted and caring fans, who want only the very best for Taylor. Thank you and your company again.
Explorer C
It was great to read about this again. I was there at the Dallas concert and saw you in line (I flew to Dallas from LA just for the concert - - via Southwest of course - -also from LA to KC on Southwest for that concert in April). I was thrilled at your big surprise for Taylor. He's such an amazing talent and seems to be a genuinely nice person who deserves and appreciates his success. His music brings such joy to so many people. Thanks to fate and the Southwest "lottery ticket" we will all be enjoying his music for years to come.
Explorer B
Reminder: 9/19 is TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY Arrr, donÃ
Explorer C
Member of the Soul Patrol here! I had read this story on a couple of the Taylor websites and am extemely pleased to see that you found it newsworthy and of interest to share with everyone on the 'web'. I am one of those folks that fly Southwest whenever possible (traveling to Nashville with you this weekend) and you bet that I talk you up whenever I'm asked for travel advice! Thank you so much for doing this for our Soul man. Taylor has always been forthcoming about the part that his voucher from your company played in his journey to American Idol (and ultimately the hearts of the Soul Patrol). He has mentioned it numerous times in interviews and even recounted the event on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He is so appreciative of all the things his fans do for him and I'm sure this just knocked his socks off! Thank you for your hard work and for helping to make this happen. Now, just keep his name in mind if your company ever needs a spokesman.....perfect match....Airline with heart and man with soul. Pat
Explorer C
Thanks for your efforts at making Taylor happy and acknowledging his success. I too would have LOVED to have been there to see this-and when I read it in Heart Full of Soul I had hoped someone would come through for him. How neat that the fan who called and the person she talked to-and of course you-were all Taylor fans who didn't even know each other-until a 'winning lottery ticket" brought you guys together!! This is sooo typical of the Soul Patrol-we start out fans not knowing anyone else and before you know it-bam--you have new friends. BTW-Jonnelle-the fan who called-didn't I see her in a pic or two from the session? It would be nice to have her pic with Taylor included in your pics too. JMI
Explorer C
Big hugs to Jonelle!!! What a wonderful idea!! I'm so happy to see that Taylor got this gift that will remind him of the beginning of his journey.... thanks also to SW.
Explorer C
Wow! Thank you all for your enthusiastic comments! I enjoyed telling the story, but I love reading your comments even more. I am kicking myself for not having a close up of the framed items to show you. Guess I was too excited at the time to remember. I did try to cut and enlarge from an existing photo, but it was too blurry to do it justice. A couple of you mentioned Jonelle - the fan who called. I feel so lucky she called our Department enabling us to be involved, and you should know she was very much a part of the event. She was present, and we made a point to tell Taylor that she was the one who called and started the ball rolling. She had her photo taken with him holding the frame. I saw it on her blog about the event. It was a wonderful picture. An update on my daughter....she took her photos and autographed items to school for show and tell. Needless to say, it was a big hit! And finally, the idea of "airline with a heart and man with a soul!" I LUV it! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!
Explorer C
Hi Cindy: Its me Lola! Shout out right back at ya! Here I was having a bad day and your blog was sent to me by a very very special friend that I met on a site that loves TAYLOR! How kool is that! As you know, I got all teary eyed that night when you shared with me what had just happened at that meet & greet with Taylor. I was so touched and so happy for Taylor. To hear of a company going to this extreme to fulfill a wish, just gives me goosebumpies all over. More companies should certainly model themselves to the caliber of Southwest......because you guys RULE! Hugs to you and your daughter! It was such a pleasure meeting you both. And as a note....I LOVE THE LOVE PLANE!!!
Explorer C
Just can't deal with the cattle call. Sorry, but if you can't figure out a better way to load a plane, than line up people the way you do, then there is a BIG problem with your company.
Explorer C
FABULOUS gift idea! Much props to Jonelle (do we have a link to her blog? would love to see the pic with her and Taylor!) and to SW. I agree...this is a natural marketing, if someone has the guts to call the marketing department and get THAT ball, they would be my hero! Taylor has mentioned that it's gotten harder and harder to impress him, I'm sure this did the trick!