Phil is a songwriter and self-taught pianist who grew up mostly in northeast Indiana, graduating high school in Waterloo, IN. His fascination with music stirred from his mother singing and playing guitar in her free time as he grew up. In the 5th grade, Phil started learning to play the alto saxophone but always had a yearn to play piano ever since a young age. He quickly learned the instrument but quit band in the 9th grade to work and play football.
At the age of 17, his junior year in high school, Phil heard a song on the Delilah Radio Show late one night on his home from work. It was a piano solo piano song written by Jim Brickman called "If You Believe".
"I remember hearing the song and the feeling I felt as the music immediately mesmorized me. The FIRST thing I did when I got home that night was look up and listen to as much of Jim's music as I could!"
It was that night that Phil decided that he would learn to play the piano just like "that guy." He bought a small digital piano and began teaching himself with Disney songbooks and eventually working his way to Jim Brickman's sheet music. At this point in time, piano was only a hobby - something that made him happy and carefree.
After graduating high school in 2003, Phil went after a dream of his - flying in the United States Air Force. He enlisted and left for Basic Military Training in September, eventually finishing training to become an aircraft mechanic in the Air Force. Although busy with his mliitary duties, Phil never forgot his "hobby" and soon realized it was becoming a PASSION. Even while deployed overseas, he sought every opportunity to practice, befriending the local Air Force chapel staff wherever he went.
Phil first realized he loved performing after getting a job as a pianist at Von Maur, a clothing store in Wichita, KS. He had only been playing piano for 5 years at this point but didn't let his inexperience stop him from applying and eventually getting the job.
"I loved having people around to listen to me play. However, the first time some customers sat on the couch next to the piano to listen, I immediately started to freak out some. This was the first time, that I had seen, someone straight stare and listen to me play. My forehead began to sweat and my hands started to shake. I quickly got used to the attention though and have been addicted to it ever since!"
It was not until meeting Jim Brickman that Phil realized that maybe piano was more than a hobby, more than a passion. After seeing how much fun Jim had on stage and the ability for the music to enchant everyone in the theatre, he realized that this is what he wanted to do. He would have asked Jim questions about it after the show, but he was completely awe-struck to be near the man who inspired his passion in piano.
"I literally couldn't talk to him. I handed him the picture for an autograph, smiled, took a picture with him and that was it. I had a milliion things ready to say before getting up to him, but choked."
In 2006, Phil was accepted to the United States Air Force Academy for college - a path which would finally let him achieve his dream to become an Air Force aviator. Still, he always had a digital piano with him to practice but he realized (and after speaking with Jim Brickman some) that he needed to compose and decide what he wanted to do with music.
"One day, I sat at my piano and was like, 'Today is the day. I'm going to write a piano solo.' Literally, just like that and I did! I sat and played and within 20 minutes I had my first piano solo, 'Morning Sunrise.' In a spur of the moment thought, I e-mail the song to Jim Brickman to see what he thought and he loved it! I was in shock."
In February 2009, Phil was given an incredible opportunity. His piano idol, Jim Brickman, asked him to perform a song in concert with him when he came to Fort Collins, CO.
"A lot of people ask me how nervous I was. They're shocked when I say that I wasn't. Honestly, the most nervous I was when I was baskstage for Jim playing HIS song for him. I messed up and was so embarrassed. He just told me to take a deep breathe before I played and just...play. When I sat at the piano and began playing for everyone, I can honestly say that I felt at home and it was then that I knew I would do anything to make that career my reality."
The end of sophomore year came along and Phil began to wonder if flying is what he was really "meant" to do (although he had a natural born ability for it). Piano had now taken over his life - it was all he thought about night and day. Unfortunately, the uncertainty of success in the music industry pursuaded Phil to stay at and finish his education at the Academy and to pursue flying instead. However, he soon found out that flying was no longer in the cards. Due to not meeting vision requirements (and not being eligible for laser corrective surgery), he was informed that he was not Pilot Qualified.
"I was devastated. Truly devasted more than I ever have been. Flying and piano are what I live for; they are my passions in life. I had given up a potential opportunity to play piano professionally for the 'sure thing' of getting to fly and then I felt like I had nothing. A lot of my more emotional songs came out in this time period. I had everything planned out and now didn't know what I was going to do with my life anymore."
Phil has since graduate the Academy and is now an Air Force officer. Any state he gets sent to for long periods of time, Phil sends out numerous e-mails and visits many places in search of venues to perfom in. He is highly determined to achieve his dream of becoming one of America's new romantic piano sensations.