BUZZBOX- Taylor made: <i>Idol</i>'s soul man hits the Paramount

The RIAA has certified Taylor Hicks' self-titled, major label debut platinum.

Earlier this year, as Taylor Hicks stood in the recording studio at 2107 West Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles, he couldn't contain himself.

"I cried," he says. "I was so honored to be in that studio, thinking about how the music that was made there is part of my musical foundation."

The studio belonged to Ray Charles. Hicks was there as an invited guest of Charles' family to record a song, and it was the moment when Hicks realized how far he's come in just two years' time.

It's been nearly a year since the prematurely gray 30-year-old leader of the so-called "Soul Patrol" surprised the world by outlasting his younger counterparts and winning the fifth season of American Idol. 

Hicks says he still can't get used to his fame. "I didn't anticipate the magnitude of it," he says. "When people recognize you when you're overseas, that's amazing for a country boy from Alabama." 

Fans aren't the only ones taking notice. Since his victory, Hicks has performed with everyone from Willie Nelson to Snoop Dogg, and says he's been writing songs with John Mayer and Robert Randolph for his next album. The respect from already-established musicians is unprecedented for an American Idol victor, and Hicks thinks he knows why.

"I've paid my dues," he says. "They know I've spent a long time in the clubs and working hard at my craft, just like they did." 

In addition to respect from his fellow musicians, Hicks recently received the ultimate sign of acceptance: he was parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic.

"I laughed so hard," says Hicks of "Do I Creep You Out?" Yankovic's take on his hit single, "Do I Make You Proud?" 

"When 'Weird Al' comes to you and wants to make fun of you," he says, "you just can't turn him down."

When Hicks takes the stage at the Paramount Theater on Thursday, July 5, he anticipates a fun audience, even though he knows most were rooting for another American Idol contestant: Fluvanna County's Chris Daughtry.

"I'm still a little shocked he didn't win," Hicks says.

Taylor Hicks at the Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall Thursday, July 5. 8pm. $40.50-$50.50.