J walk: 2006 'Idol' Hicks without label

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NEW YORK -- "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks has split with Arista, which released his self-titled major-label debut in late 2006.

"Taylor is going to record on his own for the next album," J Records publicist Liz Morentin said. She did not give further details.

Hicks said in an interview last year that he had signed a three-album deal with the label following his "Idol" victory and that, "We all knew what we were getting into when we signed the contracts."

The soul singer, whose inspirational memoir, "Heart Full of Soul," was released in July, added, "you could write a pretty good book" on the intricacies of the contracts "Idol" contestants sign.

In a post on his MySpace site just before Christmas, Hicks said he was planning on releasing a new album and DVD in 2008, as well as touring, but did not provide further details.

Hicks' self-titled, post-"Idol" album, released in December 2006, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 but slid down the chart in the ensuing weeks. It has sold a respectable 699,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, but all previous "Idol" champs reached the 1 million unit-mark with their J Records debuts. It also did not register a hit song, unlike other "Idol" winners.

Another "Idol" winner -- Ruben Studdard of Season 2 -- left his contract with J Records late last year but continues his contract with 19 Entertainment, the company managed by "Idol" creator Simon Fuller.

Jonathan Cohen is senior editor at Billboard. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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