As the story goes, the Georgia native originally attempted to woo the Idol judges with his strong, deep vocals by auditioning with the classic Stevie Wonder track “Superstition.” Idol judge Randy Jackson then suggested that Phillips “play some of that geetar” (as Phillip says in his country twang) that he had brought to the try-outs.
Phillips went on to perform an acoustic version of the late King Of Pop’s famous hit “Thriller,” landing him a spot for further contention. Phillips would then battle through hundreds of other contestants, eventually leading to him winning season eleven.
The 21-year-old, who grew up in Leesburg, Georgia, was no overnight YouTube sensation. Phillips was unexpectedly discovered by one of his sister’s friends after hearing him sing solo one day, when he thought no one else was listening. Later it was suggested for him to perform in front of a packed audience during Sunday Mass at his church.
“I have always dreamed of playing in front of people that wanted to hear my music,” Phillips said. “But I never thought it would ever happen – that’s why I was going to college for a backup plan.”
No backup plan needed. Phillips released his debut single “Home,” after his final Idol performance, and had the biggest digital sales week for any Idol winner’s debut single. Phillips was also pleasantly surprised that his single “Home” was chosen as the unofficial song of the 2012 Women’s Olympic gymnastics team. He was never given a warning and eventually found out through his Twitter followers.
Phillips admits that he has been very lucky to have the support of former Idol contestants. Season ten Idol winner Scotty McCreery at one point told him to “enjoy the ride and hold on tight,” and Casey Abrams has always been a major part of Phillip’s life, to the point where he was the main reason why Phillips tried out for Idol in the first place.
“He’s an amazing musician and he is the reason for making me want to try out,” Phillips said.
Since being crowned the title of American Idol, Phillip’s single “Home” has gone platinum and has taken his world to a whole new level.
“It’s amazing I never thought any of this would happen and I’m just going to take it in.”
When the dust clears and Phillips’ Hollywood lifestyle calms down a bit, he plans on getting a tour started, as well as finishing his first studio album.
As for Phillip’s love life he admits he and his girlfriend have been going through a lot together. “It’s tough for both of us, we are trying to figure out her stuff and then mine, and its kind of a whirlwind we are trying to wrap our heads around.”
–Vincent Roszkowski, Fresh 102.7