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Mardi Gras will feature Idol winner Taylor Hicks

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — American Idol winner Taylor Hicks will reign as the Krewe of Endymion's grand marshal for the 2007 Carnival season.

The gray-haired, 30-year-old soul singer from Birmingham captured audiences this year with his vocal performances and curious dancing style on the hit reality TV show.

Singer Al Green and the musical groups Journey and Styx also will ride in the parade.

Endymion Captain Ed Muniz said Hicks will be a great ambassador to show America and the world that New Orleans is open to visitors.

Hicks' journey from self-taught musician to TV star has a Louisiana connection. He was in New Orleans for a wedding just before Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, and with his flight out of town canceled, he took a cab to West Monroe and turned his free plane ticket into an Idol audition trip to Las Vegas.

Before ousting fellow Idol finalist Katherine McPhee in May, Hicks was a struggling musician unknown outside the small Southern clubs where he performed. His first single "Do I Make You Proud" sold more than 190,000 copies in the first week of release, according to Billboard magazine.

Endymion is among the city's largest Carnival groups.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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