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July 29, 2014

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Taylor Hicks clicks with GOP in Tampa as deal with Bally’s looms

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Bryan Schnitzer

Taylor Hicks at Surrender Nightclub in the Encore on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

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"American Idol" Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks.

A Strip headliner is set to perform at the Republican National Convention.

But whether Taylor Hicks will be a former Strip headliner by the time he takes the stage in Tampa, Fla., is still to be determined.

Around Vegas, Hicks’ involvement in the Republican National Convention’s closing night has been the subject of speculation and musings and whatnot for about a week and a half. The gig at Tampa Times Forum was finally made official Friday by the Republican National Committee, which sent a news release to the media, freeing Hicks to talk about the opportunity to return to national TV. He gained national fame five years ago as the champion of Season 5 of “American Idol.”

“I think it’s an honor to be a part of American history and the American political process, whether it’s Democratic or Republican,” said Hicks, who is a native of one of the reddest states in the country, Alabama (he was born in Birmingham). “It’s important that as Americans we exercise the right to vote and be a part of that process.”

Hicks is set to perform for a crowd of 18,500 and a national TV audience. He hits the stage at about 5:30 p.m. Pacific time. The song he plans to perform has not been confirmed. The house band is the G.E. Smith Band (long the house band for “Saturday Night Live”), and other acts performing through the course of the convention include 3 Doors Down, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Oak Ridge Boys, Neal Boyd, Randy Owens, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, and BeBe Winans.

By the time Hicks appears in Tampa, his fate as headliner at Indigo at Bally’s will likely be known. He ends his summer-long engagement Saturday night, but he has been in talks with Caesars Entertainment officials about a return engagement, likely at Indigo, the refitted lounge where Hicks and his band have been presented since opening in June.

“I’m excited about the prospect of coming back and performing,” Hicks said. “Things are looking really good, and we’re making progress.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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