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Encore Presentation: Interview with 'Idol' Winners

Aired January 21, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, an "American Idol" exclusive. An "American Idol" first. Last season's winner Taylor Hicks and season three winner Fantasia Barrino. Two past "American Idol" winners from two different seasons together for the first time. What do they think of the new "American Idol" wannabes? What do they really think about Simon, Paula and Randy? And do they think this week's season premiere got too mean?

SIMON COWELL: This has been one of the worst days we have ever had. And you are probably the worst we have had today.


KING: We'll ask Taylor Hicks and Fantasia Barrino. And we'll hear from Ryan Seacrest too. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening, thanks for joining us tonight. The "American Idol" phenomena continues. Season six kicked off Tuesday night with the highest premiere ratings in the show's history. We'll hear from "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest in just a bit. But first, two past winners together for the first time, Taylor Hicks who won last season. And his self-titled album is out last month, has already gone platinum. There you see its cover. And Fantasia Barrino, was "American Idol" season three winner, she too released an album entitled "Fantasia" last month and starred in a highly rated lifetime TV movie based on her own best-selling autobiography. Welcome, both return visits to the show but first time together. What do you make of the success of this show, Taylor? Why?

TAYLOR HICKS, SEASON 5 WINNER: Well I think it allows people to, you know to get into a particular entertainer very quickly and follow their careers very quickly. It would be like going and seeing Bruce Springsteen in a club and quickly following his career and career path. It just allows you to do that from the privacy of your own home.

KING: You don't have to do the Holiday Inn, the Ramada Inn, the Howard Johnsons, the local theater. Why do you think it's so popular Fantasia?

FANTASIA BARRINO, SEASON 3 WINNER: Well you know, like you said, it gives people the opportunity to do something that they always wanted to do. I know that is very tough now to get into record companies and it's very tough to get somebody to recognize you. So when a show like this allows so many people the opportunity, even if you don't win, it allows you the opportunity to, you know, show your talent, to America.

KING: It creates a break?

HICKS: Definitely creates a break.

KING: That would have been impossible to get anywhere else, right?

HICKS: Yeah, I was --

KING: What were you doing?

HICKS: Ten years I was playing Holiday Inns and Days Inns and I was playing anything that I could find, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

KING: And Fantasia, what were you doing?

BARRINO: Same here. Singing in churches and whatever somebody would ask me to sing on, I was doing the same here.

KING: Season six premiered Tuesday night. Highest opening ratings they ever had. We're going to show you a clip from that program and get the comments of our guests. This was an audition show. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lean on me when you're not strong and I'll be your friend I'll help you carry on.

COWELL: This has been one of the worst days we have ever had. And you are probably the worst we have had today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand beside her and guide her.

Sounds real good.

I like big --

Big butts and I cannot lie. You other guys cannot deny. You get sprung

COWELL: What was that net she was wearing?

RANDY JACKSON: Simon, you don't have to talk about her tan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is that girl who I see.

JACKSON: Tone down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want me girl let me know I am down on my knees.

COWELL: You look a little odd. Your dancing is terrible. The singing was horrendous. And you look like one of those creatures that live in the jungle with those massive eyes. What are they called? Bush baby.

ABDUL: Simon you are sick.


KING: Ok, Taylor, frankly, is that program, frankly, taking advantage of people, obviously, who shouldn't be on television?

HICKS: I don't think so. I think everybody, you know, has an opportunity to be heard and on that show, you have that opportunity. So I don't think it's taking advantage of. I think the show is there for you to expose the talents that you think you have in singing and performing. And you know, you have to take that chance.

KING: So you don't think they were embarrassing themselves?


BARRINO: They don't think that they're embarrassing themselves. They are really, you know --

KING: They're serious?


KING: When the show puts them on, isn't the show saying, we're going to have fun at their expense?

BARRINO: I think so sometimes. Because they know, you know, from what I've seen, it's just been a lot of funny stuff. I've been watching and I haven't really seen them show the -- I don't want to say real talent but the people who are really serious and know that they have a true gift.

KING: Why did the public, in the highest number ever, watch that show for an opening show?

HICKS: Well, I --

KING: They weren't seeing talent.

HICKS: Well, you know, I think it's the "American Idol" viewer. I think it starts from the beginning stages of the show. I think it starts from my audition was Las Vegas and, you know, there was a lot of people watching that first audition cities and I think that's kind of the start of the growth of finding your singer that you like in that show and following that singer all the way to the end.

KING: So it's a process?

HICKS: It's a process.

KING: And the good with the bad.

HICKS: You get the good with the bad.

KING: When you tried out, what was it like for you? First, where did you try out?

BARRINO: I tried out in Atlanta.

KING: What was the first time you went up?

BARRINO: You know, there was so many people out there, we had to meet up with singing at the same time while I'm singing. You got so many talented people singing. I was very nervous because I heard some really good singers there. But, you know, in my mind I was saying I'm just going to go out and give my all. Like my last time singing, this is my last chance. I went out there and I gave my all.

KING: And what did they say to you when you were done?

BARRINO: Everybody was tired by the time I got up. So everybody was kind of sitting back like hurry up, sing your song, so we can go home. But, you know, they just gave me -- they would hand you a paper and say you made it to the next round. Nobody was very excited but me which I really didn't care, I said, ok, I made it. So, you know, they're very tired, they listen to thousands and thousands of people sing.

KING: What happened with you Taylor?

HICKS: Well, Simon --

KING: In Vegas.

HICKS: Yeah, I was in Vegas. Simon, he just wasn't having any part of what I was doing. But Simon, yeah, Simon -- I think it was the end of the day for me too. They had had it. And luckily Randy and Paula liked the throwback style that I have so --

KING: So Simon would have voted against you?

HICKS: I don't think Simon liked me at all through the whole competition.

KING: You don't think he liked you when you won?

HICKS: I don't know. I don't think so. You might have to ask him that.

KING: I will. We'll be back with Taylor Hicks and Fantasia Barrino on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Ryan will join us right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't need experience to turn me out. You just leave it all up to me I'll show you what it's all about. You don't have to be rich to be my girl you -- don't have to be cool to rule my world ain't no particular sign I'm more compatible with I just need your extra time and your kiss.



KING: Here are their two albums, "Fantasia" and "Taylor Hicks." Couldn't say it better than that. Just their names, both brand new. Both selling super. Joining us on the phone is Ryan Seacrest, the host of "American Idol." Ryan I don't know if you've watched the first segment. But I want to pick up on something. How do you explain and last night -- Tuesday night was the most successful opening ever -- a successful opening of an amateur night?

RYAN SEACREST, AMERICAN IDOL HOST: It's a great question. And I don't think any of us have the answer which is probably the beauty of it. With "American Idol," I was talking with Randy and Simon about this before we went on the air, and I think that the amazing thing is it's a bit imperfect and we don't over think how the show works which may be one of the reasons why it's successful.

KING: And why did the crowds that turn out, and do you think you're taking advantage of some of these people?

SEACREST: Well what people have to realize when they're watching "American Idol," I mean, obviously this is a television show so it's part entertainment, but it's also a credible search for a star. Look at the guy sitting in that studio, Fantasia and Taylor. They are two stars. There are a lot of stars that have come out of this nationwide search that we do every year. When you look at this portion of the series, and both Taylor and Fantasia know this, you're looking at a representation of the thousands and thousands that showed up at the arena to audition for that first round. So Randy, Paula and Simon don't know who they're going to see before they see them. And what they look at is, you know, is a representation, a piece of a whole. And they try to make that a very fair representation.

KING: Are you still enjoying doing it?

SEACREST: I love it. It's the greatest --

KING: Why?

KING: Larry, you know me, I love it. I love the fact that we can go around the country, and take somebody who might be watching your show now or our show now, and deliver an opportunity. And like Taylor said, a very big and quick opportunity. And I think that once you may get through this process, it becomes the most difficult because as we all know, you know, trying to find your big break is tough. But once you get to a top or a semi-top, and everybody just wants to bring you down. And that's when you have to work even harder. Wouldn't you agree, Taylor, Fantasia?

BARRINO: I agree. I will be the first one to agree.

KING: Now some people say I saw "Dream Girls" with a bunch of people that are showing. And everyone said she lost? That girl lost? Now you tried out for that movie, right.

BARRINO: Tried out for the part.

KING: But you didn't beat her, she wasn't on the same show you were on.

BARRINO: She was on the season with me. And like I said, I just felt like that part wasn't for me, it was for her. It wasn't my blessing. It was her blessing.

KING: But you beat her?

BARRINO: I did, I won.

KING: Have you seen the movie?


KING: What do you make of this?

BARRINO: She's amazing. She was amazing on the show. So much talent on the show. Me, her and Latoya, we're all still home girls. But even when we went on the show, I gave her, her props, she gave me props, I gave Toya props, they are both powerhouses.

KING: Because they were saying, Ryan, how did Jennifer Hudson not win? Nothing against Fantasia.

SEACREST: Nobody really loses if they become a household name on the show. If you make it into that final group, you don't lose. It's just a matter of what you can do with what you have been given. And, you know, I'm a big believer in hustling. I'm a big believer in work ethic. I'm a big believer in making things happen and being proactive. Any male or female that makes it into that group and I call it the group of household names, it's really up to them whether they leave on the fifth week or the last week. It's up to them to capitalize on a massive machine that is "American Idol." That momentum is really unprecedented and it's up to the individual to capitalize on it. And you know I believe in that.

KING: We've got a bunch of e-mail questions, received hundreds of e-mails for tonight. We'll try to get through a bunch. This one is to Taylor from Paula in London, Ontario. "Do you think that Simon saying that America would never pick you as its Idol winner had any impact on the final vote? Did America send Simon a message that his opinion didn't reflect American culture?"

HICKS: That's a really good question. Yeah, I think there is that game that Simon plays with the voting public. And, you know, he didn't really like me at first. I don't know if he still does. But I think that's an interesting question. I don't -- I think -- yeah there is a game that he plays with the viewers. And that's one of them, possibly.

KING: Shtick. Ryan, what you to think? SEACREST: I think with Taylor and with Fantasia, they're very talented but they're also spirited. And people were really invested in both of them. And it was obviously a passionate investment. And they wanted to show up in the numbers in the voting to put them to where they got to be, two winners. As Taylor said, you know, Simon definitely is -- I guess the right word is aware of everything that he's doing. And I don't think he doesn't like you, Taylor, at all. I really believe that he's being as honest as he can be in the moment. And, listen, we all say things on that show that when we go back and watch it again, we think, I can't believe I said that. It is a live telecast for the most part. Once we get into those performance shows, it's live. And as you guys know, we can't go fix anything. So we all watch it back and say, ok, I didn't really mean that, every once in a while.

KING: One other quick e-mail for Taylor from Amy in Salem, Illinois. "The other day on "Oprah" Simon said that you wouldn't have won if you didn't have gray hair."

HICKS: Well --

KING: How can you answer that?

HICKS: I don't -- well the gray is always going to stay with me.

KING: You're never going to color it, you can't color it.

HICKS: That's right, the gray is wisdom. That's right.

KING: Wisdom. We'll be right back, Ryan will hang with us for another segment. Right back with Taylor Hicks and Fantasia Barrino. We'll also be including your phone calls. Don't go away.



COWELL: Thank you, Jennifer. No, we're not going to give you any love. It's a terrible audition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Opinion don't mean nothing.

COWELL: Then why are you here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you don't leave no stone unturned.

COWELL: Then why are you here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you know about music?

COWELL: Why are you here?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you here?

COWELL: I'm here to judge you sweetheart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok, well I'm here to sing. You don't know nothing about music.

COWELL: We don't like the singing, that's the rule.


KING: Ryan Seacrest, how long can the phenomena last?

SEACREST: Well, I hope a long time. You know, two seasons ago we crossed our fingers. We were worried about when it might drop, when those ratings may wane a little bit. Fortunately they have continued to go up. Listen, all of us are experiencing something that we never thought we would in this ride. And the next morning when we saw the ratings come in, there were e-mails going back and forth to cast and crew, basically saying, wow, can you believe it? How great is this? How much fun is this? So we were thrilled and we didn't expect it to be as big as it was.

KING: Fantasia, you think it could continue (INAUDIBLE)?

BARRINO: Yes, yes. Because you know people in America are giving people the opportunity. They have -- they are allowed to be a part of it, of these young people who just want to get out there and do what it is they love to do.

KING: Ryan, how many people vote?

SEACREST: Oh, millions and millions and millions. And people, you know, they find their favorite and they try and vote as often as they can. They can't get through, they stay up and try and get through in that window. It's part of the beauty of this program. It is interactive and essentially the judges whittle it down to a group for America to look at. And America picks their idol. Look at the two personalities and the talent sitting across from you, Larry, with Fantasia and Taylor. These are two very different individuals. But they have a few things in common. Obviously music and success on "American Idol." That's a great thing. This program brings different kinds of people together.

KING: Yeah and it has replaced -- but Taylor said something during the break, there has always has been an amateur show on somewhere. When I was a kid on the radio, there was Ted Max Amateur hour. Frank Sinatra won that show. Arthur Godfrey's talent scouts. There's always been a popular draw.

HICKS: "Star Search."

KING: "Star Search." To see young people succeed. Isn't that the attraction?

SEACREST: It's the underdog story, it's the unknown, making it. It's the person, the Taylor, the Fantasia, the Kelly in a small town, a place far from Hollywood, this never had a chance to be here, that has never gotten on an airplane. It's that story and ride of them from essentially having a dream to living that dream and having success. Taylor has sat in my studio, Fantasia I've interviewed, we played their records before. It's really fun for me to see them go through this process as we called it earlier and then make a record and then sit with me at the radio station and hand it to me and I get to play the record. That's a nice follow through part for me.

KING: We have another e-mail for Taylor from Sam in Interlochen, Florida. "Vibe magazine called you the embodiment of the last 50 years of popular music. How does a funky white boy from Alabama feel about getting such praise from an African American music magazine?

HICKS: Well it was an honor to be asked to do the "Vibe" piece. And I've paid the dues. I've studied all kinds of music, jazz and blues and R&B and hip-hop. And, you know that was a very flattering statement from those guys.

KING: Do you consider yourself in the Presley mode?

HICKS: I don't think anybody could ever be in the Presley mode. But, I did study -- definitely studied his moves.

KING: Ryan, you know music. Give us 10 type here of each of our guests. What's special about Fantasia?

SEACREST: Fantasia, obviously, has an incredible voice. And she pops off that screen. Like I said -- I used the word spirit. She has a great spirit, terrific energy. I think Fantasia would agree that we had a lot of fun on "American Idol." We laughed and she is candid and she's vulnerable and she's real. Those things make for, you know, a successful person in that business and I think that she showed it. Fantasia is not afraid to be honest with the audience and tell the truth. We have some contestants that -- and we don't need to name names, will put on a front for the audience. We know who they are. But I think Fantasia is an honest, talented singer. Taylor is just -- I mean, how do you describe Taylor? How do you put Taylor into a genre. Taylor you and I have talked about this before too. Taylor doesn't put up walls when it comes to his style and his music. The guy was on stage with Snoop Dogg. Taylor Hicks and Snoop Dogg doing a show together. So he is -- he's got soul. He's got a little bit of rhythm. And he's a real artist. Taylor is a musician. Four years ago, you didn't see people like Taylor Hicks trying out for "American Idol." I've said it before, I'll say it again, Taylor helps to make it cool.

KING: Do you think the one thing in common among the winners, Ryan, is they're all likable?

SEACREST: You have to be likable. Don't you -- you have to develop a following. You're not going to get people to vote if you're a jerk. There is a degree of politicking involved, I think, in getting those votes. But, yeah, talent, likeability, poise, handling the criticism, sum of all parts. America is very savvy and certainly they know what they want. And they get behind the person that they want and they vote for them and then they see who makes it at the end. KING: Ryan, I know you got to run because you probably got another job to do.

SEACREST: We're going to do a couple of shows tonight and get up at 4:00 in the morning for the radio show.

KING: Keep it up Ryan.

HICKS: See you Ryan.

BARRINO: Bye Ryan.

KING: Ryan, by the way, the Sunday L.A. -- the "Los Angeles Times" paper route, I got you the thing.

SEACREST: I owe you big time.

KING: Short a gig on Sunday.

SEACREST: You're a dear friend.

KING: You too. Ryan Seacrest, the host of "American Idol." We'll be back with Taylor Hicks, Fantasia Barrino, your phone calls and more e-mails. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Taylor Hicks and Fantasia. Two new albums, there are their covers, available everywhere albums are sold.

We saw Fantasia react to winning. Let's see how Taylor Hicks reacted. Watch.


SEACREST: The winner of "American Idol" season five is Taylor Hicks!


KING: OK. Did you expect to win? Truly?


KING: Because Ryan gave you the old shtick there, delaying it.

HICKS: I felt like I had a good chance with the song that I was given to sing on the show.

KING: They gave you the song?

HICKS: "Do I Make You Proud?" Yeah. I felt like I sang it really well. Something down inside me said you got a pretty good shot.

KING: The lady you beat out, how good was she? HICKS: She was great. She was magnificent. She's a -- she's also one of those people in the business that we both were talking -- she's paid her dues as well.

KING: Katherine McPhee.

HICKS: Katherine McPhee, yes.

KING: How did you feel when they announced your name, Fantasia?

BARRINO: As you can see, I jumped, I broke my shoes. Everything broke off of me.

KING: But did you expect it or were you surprised?

BARRINO: I was very surprised. Because it goes back to Ryan saying, you know, everybody on the show, they expect you to be a certain way, and I was just a regular old country girl, just being me, being myself. And I caught a lot of flack about some of the things that I did in my past and some of the people weren't trying to let that go. So I felt like they wasn't going give me that opportunity. But you know, America looked past all of that and they gave me the opportunity.

KING: We have an e-mail, fits both of you, from Diane in Fort Lauderdale. "What has been your most exciting moment since you've won on 'American Idol?'"

BARRINO: I have a lot of those. I actually got to sing at Carnegie Hall.

KING: Not bad.

BARRINO: And that was the best for me.

KING: Clive Davis producing you?


KING: What was yours, Taylor?

HICKS: Well, actually, you know, I've been able to record my first album, my debut album was -- being in a big studio with big producers and allowing -- having -- they allowed the time to actually record some of my own songs on my first album would be...

KING: After knocking around in Holiday Inns. That must have been a particular thrill, whether it sold or not. It wasn't the material at that point, it was that "here I am."

HICKS: It was definitely emotional. And I mean, I rely on instincts and God. You know, they both -- they both guide me because it is an amazing opportunity.

KING: What was it like when you recorded? BARRINO: Well, I've been recording ever since I was 5 years old in the studios. So -- but being able to go into the studio and record an album that America was going to be able to hear, that was a blessing. Like he's saying, again, you know, God is amazing. He can do some things that will make you say, you know, wow, so it was a blessing.

KING: Do the contestants bond together? Taylor? I mean, it's competition. You want to win.

HICKS: Yes, it's competition. But, yes, you have to. It would be like living three feet from 10 people for seven months. And that's kind of how it is. You really -- you do everything in a group. And you live in the same house. You know, so there are bonds that you create. But, you know, obviously week to week, it is a competition.

KING: Let's rate the judges. What do you think of Randy?

BARRINO: Amazing. Very talented. Nice guy.

KING: Nice guy. Knows the business?

BARRINO: Mm-hmm.

KING: What do you think of Randy?

HICKS: Musician. Great bass player. And a groovy, groovy guy.

KING: Yes. Good guy. Paula?

BARRINO: She's nice. She is very talented. She knows the business. She knows true talent. Very nice woman.

KING: She wants you to do well?

HICKS: Yes. Yes, she does.

KING: Paula is rooting for you, right?

HICKS: She does. Yes, she does. She definitely gave me good words of encouragement through the whole process.

KING: And that's important, isn't it?

HICKS: Yes. It helps. It helps the confidence.

KING: Simon?

BARRINO: Simon. He's strict. But he's a man of honesty and he tells you the truth. And I think that he prepares you for what you're about to get yourself into. And he's very handsome. I don't think Taylor would say that.

KING: Sure was nice to you.

BARRINO: He was nice to me. KING: Taylor, what do you think, really?

HICKS: I think he's a great representation of how the music business really is. And it is...

KING: He's in the record business.

HICKS: ... hard core. It's tough. And it is -- there is definitely more, you know, more no's than there are yes.

KING: You get rejection much more.

HICKS: There is a lot.

KING: We'll be right back with Taylor Hicks and Fantasia Barrino on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll get to some of your phone calls right after this.





KING: Feeling good. We're back with two "American Idol" winners: Taylor Hicks, who's the reigning champion, and Fantasia Barrino won a couple of years ago. Their new CDs are "Fantasia" and "Taylor Hicks".

And let's grab some calls.

Hartwell, Georgia, hello.



CALLER: This is Justin.

KING: Hey, Justin.

What's the question?

CALLER: I was going to ask Fantasia, what's the most extravagant gift she has bought?

KING: What have you bought for yourself?

BARRINO: What did I buy for myself?

Well, I bought a home after I won for my family.

KING: A home.

BARRINO: Yes, we bought a house, a big house and put everybody in it.

And I bought myself a G-wagon (ph).

KING: Where's the house?

BARRINO: In North Carolina.

KING: Is that where you're from?


KING: What's yours?

HICKS: Well, my hometown?

KING: No, what have you bought for yourself?

HICKS: Well, I haven't really had time since I won. You know, I drive around in a Rent-A-Car. And...

KING: Why?

HICKS: Well, I just -- I'm about to go on a five month tour, actually. So I'm in the process now of going on tour. So that's going to be another six months.

I did buy a wonderful camera. I documented all of my stuff on the road that I've been through. I went to the White House to meet the president. And I got to take pictures. So a home is in store soon, maybe by the end of the year, hopefully.

KING: Do you like concertizing?

HICKS: Yes. That's what I've done for all these years. And I'm excited about going on tour.

KING: You married?


KING: You married?


KING: Do you want to be married?

BARRINO: I would like to have some -- I'm not married right now but would love to have somebody, a strong man there by my side.

HICKS: Sooner or later.

KING: Got anybody in your life now?

HICKS: I've got a tour bus a crew.

KING: You're only 30? HICKS: Thirty years old.

KING: It's improper to ask your age.

Salem, Illinois, hello.


I love -- Taylor, I love the new album. I play it every day. But I haven't heard any of your singles on the radio yet. I was wondering when you were going to be putting one of those out.

HICKS: Well, that's a great question. The single is "Just to Feel That Way". And it hopefully will be out by the end of the week, maybe in the next couple of days. "Just to Feel That Way" is the single.

KING: You've got all this album. How do you pick that one out?

HICKS: Well...

KING: Or does Clive Davis pick that one out?

HICKS: I think it's instinct. You know, you've written songs in the past for yourself. And I'm a songwriter. And then you receive songs, and Ray Charles taught me that you can sing "Georgia on My" -- you can sing "Georgia on My Mind" but not necessarily write it. But if you feel it, you sing it. And for me, all those songs that I was receiving, you can tell if you get that feeling. And when you get that feeling, you cut the song.

KING: That's what it is all about, right?


KING: Selling it.

HICKS: Feeling. And make it.

BARRINO: If you don't feel it, it won't come across.

KING: Do you write songs?


KING: You do, too?


KING: But you sing the songs of others?


KING: Now, you mentioned what they gave you to sing on the final? "American Idol" tells you what to sing?

HICKS: They have a song in place for you once you get to the top three. In my...

KING: Really?

HICKS: In my instance, I was given a song that I didn't feel represented me well. And I chose to sing the second song, which is actually "Do I Make You Proud?" my song that I sing -- that I'm set to sing for all the troops overseas.

KING: Was yours chosen?

BARRINO: Yes, it was. But it was a song that I could relate to, "I Believe". Tamyra Gray wrote it. And actually, you -- both of you sang the same songs. You sing -- she sang the same song too, right?


BARRINO: She didn't.

KING: You can do that, though, sometimes?



KING: All right. We will be taking a break, come back with some more e-mails and more phone calls.











KING: An e-mail question for Fantasia from Barbara in Bayou Golou (ph), Louisiana.

"Fantasia, I'm a true, die-hard fan. Are you going to have a part in the Broadway-bound play based on Aretha Franklin's autobiography?"

BARRINO: You know, I just heard about it. It would be an honor. I love her. She's my idol. So it would be an honor and a blessing if I was able to...

KING: Have you heard anything?

BARRINO: I just heard about it, just heard about it.

KING: But you haven't heard anything from the producers?

BARRINO: No, but hopefully, Miss Barbara, we'll get that part.

KING: Akron, Ohio, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


KING: Taylor, I am absolutely addicted to your music. I want to say thank you for your music.

My question for you is have you been approached to make any movies? Are you interested in making any movies? And I will see you in Cleveland and Columbus. I love you.

KING: You're going to both concerts?

CALLER: Absolutely.

KING: You're a fanatic, lady.

CALLER: I've got my shirt made up. It says, "66 and Loving Hicks".

BARRINO: That's nice.

HICKS: I hear you. Well, I will see you in both of those cities.

Yes, I would love to -- I would love to get into movies sooner or later, you know? But right now, you know, music's my first passion.

KING: You tried out for "Dream Girls". Would you like to do movies?

BARRINO: Well, I did my movie, which was about my life story. And after that...

KING: That was for television?

BARRINO: Yes, for Lifetime. After that, yes, I would love to do some more movies.

KING: We have an e-mail from Gracie in Atlanta. This is for both of you.

"How do you define soul?"

BARRINO: Go ahead, Taylor. I'll let you go first. HICKS: I just -- I think it's feeling. And it's joy, it's happiness, it's pain, sorrow, suffering. It's all the adjectives that you can think of. And it's in your heart.

KING: Who's a great soul singer?

HICKS: Who? Well, Ray Charles. And Jackie Wilson.

BARRINO: Aretha Franklin.

HICKS: And Aretha Franklin.

BARRINO: James Brown.

KING: It other words, it comes from the gut.

HICKS: It comes from the gut.

KING: How you to define it?

BARRINO: You know, as I like to say it, when I'm going through -- it's all about what you're going through when you stand up there on that stage and you just let it all out. And if somebody else can feel it, if somebody else -- if I go to an Aretha Franklin show and I'm sitting in the audience and as soon as she hits the mike and opens up her mouth, you can feel -- you can feel it. It comes from here.

KING: Would Billie Holiday have been the classic?

BARRINO: Billie Holiday, I love her, too. .

KING: Savanna, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, my question is for Fantasia.

Fantasia, I adore you. I listen to your CDs. I love them.

And what I want to know is in making your life story and it becoming a movie for Lifetime, was it difficult for you to relive some of the difficulties you had in your life before coming to "American Idol"?

BARRINO: It was very difficult doing some of the parts that I thought that I would never go back to, you know, some of the scenes I went through a lot of different emotions. But I guess the best part about it was I made it through by having so many people on the set that were so supportive, working with Miss Debbie Allen, who's amazing, by the way. I had so many people that were very supportive. I did the movie in New Orleans. And a lot of people would come to the set and they would say to me, "You're inspiring me, you're encouraging me. I've been through this, I've been through that."

And that's how I knew, OK, Fantasia, you can go through it and you can your story because it's helping somebody else.

KING: Is that your real name? BARRINO: Yes. I didn't like it when I was a kid.

KING: Taylor's your name?


KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.








RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE, "AMERICAN IDOL": Welcome to Hollywood. Time to go crazy.


KING: I don't like the forecast, but I don't think most of the acts we have seen tonight will be in the finals.

Benton, Arkansas, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

Hi, Taylor, I love you.

HICKS: How are you doing?

CALLER: Doing great. Had you picked before Simon ever thought you would make it.

HICKS: Well, I appreciate that.

CALLER: And, Fantasia, I love you.

BARRINO: Thank you so much.

CALLER: I love you, girl. You're a true overcomer and I love your strength.

BARRINO: Thank you.

CALLER: My question for you, Fantasia: how has it been balancing out motherhood and your career?

BARRINO: Well, it's been a little tough just because I'm missing out on a lot of things that I really wish that I could be there for. School now for little Zion -- she's five, so she's in school. So there's a lot of things that I miss out on. But I bring her out on the road with me. And I have to also think that I'm doing what I love to do and I'm also doing it all for her.

KING: How old is he?

BARRINO: Five going on 15.

KING: Florence, Alabama, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Hey, Taylor.

HICKS: Yes, ma'am.

CALLER: How are you doing?

HICKS: I'm doing good. How's it going?

CALLER: All right. I have a question.


KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: How old were you when you first got your first gray hair?

KING: How old were you?

HICKS: My first gray hair probably was about 13.

KING: Really?

HICKS: Yes. I was fully gray about 23, 24.

KING: When did you know you wanted to sing?

BARRINO: Well, I started at five. That's because my father put me and my brothers up. But I had to be about 7, 8 years old when I knew that God put me there for a reason, to share my talent and to touch people.

KING: Taylor?

HICKS: You know, probably four or five. I think I was going around singing to tables at restaurants and stuff when I was a kid. My parents just let me go, you know? It's what we both felt God was -- intended for us to do.

KING: Do you come back as last year's winner to crown this year's winner? HICKS: I would love to.

KING: Is that what they usually do?

HICKS: I think that they do. I think that, you know, the winner or the winner and the runner-up go back each year and perform on the show. I watched it last night. I'll be watching -- I'll be watching again.

KING: I was going to say, you watch the show?

HICKS: Yes. I watch it, yes.

KING: You watch it, Fantasia?

BARRINO: Yes, can't miss it.

KING: Really?


KING: And you feel empathy, obviously, for these people, especially those (INAUDIBLE) we've seen tonight?

BARRINO: I was watching the other night. There was some I cried on because when they run out with that paper and they're crying, I know how it feels. And there was some that I was a little sad, you know, about Simon being a little harsh because they really want it. But I'm addicted. I can't stop watching it. It was a door-opener for me. It's, you know, why I'm here now. So I have to watch it so see who gets to feel that same feeling that we got to feel and be blessed with the opportunity.

KING: When does your tour start?

HICKS: February 21st in Jacksonville, Florida. It will be five months.

KING: In a bus?

HICKS: In a bus. I'll be living in a bus.

KING: And when do you sing publicly, now?

BARRINO: I'm on tour right now with Jamie Fox.

KING: That's not bad.

BARRINO: Yes, so we have -- not bad at all.

KING: When do you perform next?

BARRINO: We have a show tomorrow in Connecticut.

KING: He's a great guy.

BARRINO: Yes, very nice.

KING: Not a bad singer, either.


BARRINO: And he's cute, too, Larry.

KING: He's not bad.

Thanks you both very much.

HICKS: Thank you for having me.

BARRINO: Thank you.

KING: Taylor Hicks and Fantasia Barrino, "American Idol" winners and deservedly so.


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