by Kenny Kerner

They're not laughing anymore. Nobody's making fun of his name anymore. In fact, to millions of music lovers, his name might soon become a household word. You see, superstar singer Kenny Rogers just cut Erik's song, "Buy Me A Rose" and put it on his latest CD. Pretty soon, they'll be calling Erik, "sir!"

From the time he was very young, Erik was "obsessed" with music. When all of his friends would run out to play, Erik would be sitting, pad and pen in hand, jotting down the lyrics to some of his favorite songs. "I was obsessed with music from Day One but I didn't know why," Erik revealed. "The more I listened to the music, the more I started hearing these patterns (which I later learned was really counterpoint). Whenever a good song was being played I noticed there was a strong melody being played in conjunction with that--from an arrangement point of view. So I just started trying to do those kinds of things on the piano and started playing the piano by ear."

Erik confessed that when it comes to theory, he's not an exceptional musician at all. In fact, put him in front of a piano and ask him to play a simple tune, and he's lost. But, play it for him a few times and he'll perform it for you note for note. This presented somewhat of a paradox--on one hand, he was self-taught and could hear the music well enough to perform it. But on the other hand, it kinda restricted him from really diving into the inner workings of music.

i i
Name: Erik Hickenlooper
Residence: West Weber, Utah
Age: 27
Occupation: Pharmaceutical Rep
Joined TAXI: 1996
Songs Forwarded: 7
Deals/Contracts: Song "Buy Me A Rose" cut and
released on Kenny Rogers CD.
kept following his musical dreams which eventually led him to receiving a full scholarship and a college degree. By this time he had already studied with a vocal teacher and had some experience performing.
Our TAXI passenger didn't really get serious about a career in the music business until about four years ago when he got married and began listening to his wife's favorite radio station that programmed Country music. "To me, Country tends to make everything else sound like elevator music because Country is very honest. So I started listening to artists like Clint Black and Randy Travis. I thought that I might be able to do something like that myself. I called my friend who had this tiny basement studio and told him I wanted to put together a few songs, but he challenged me to write 10 songs for a CD."
Erik accepted the challenge and finally completed his first CD with original material. Taking it to a local Utah songwriter seminar, he received some very positive feedback--enough to make him decide to finally pursue songwriting as a career: "Most of the feedback I got told me that I still needed a lot of work but that there was potential. That was enough to keep me going in that field."
One afternoon, while singing a jingle at a local recording studio, someone showed Erik a TAXI ad in a music magazine and he was a believer for life. "I couldn't believe all of the listings. The thought that people were really asking for these songs was foreign to me. I had always heard that trying to get your music to these people was a nightmare. The people at TAXI were so nice and hospitable when I called that I gave it a try. From Day One, it was awesome."
Awesome is an understatement when you consider the credibility and validation Erik is receiving by having his tune "Buy Me A Rose" (originally called "Little Things") on Kenny Rogers' latest CD. Here's how Erik tells the story: "I submitted the song and within a few weeks I got a card telling me the song was forwarded. Rex Benson, TAXI's Country music screener and frequent visitor to Nashville, told me he heard rumblings that Kenny was going to cut the track but I didn't want my hopes to get too high. About a month after that, it was confirmed. I went out to buy a copy of the CD and noticed that they spelled my first name wrong."
When asked to summarize his relationship with TAXI, Erik's response was short and to the point. "TAXI is the reason I have a career." I doubt that Kenny Rogers could have said it better, himself! Congratulations, Erik.


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