SOUTHWEST GEORGIA’S "IDOL": Lee County native Phillip Phillips sings an acoustic version of Beyonce’s “Halo,” during the 2011 Albany Star Competition downtown. Phillips has gained nationwide popularity after his audition for the television show “American Idol” aired last week.
LEESBURG — Phone book employees don't worry much about how to list his name. His parents surely loved it because his dad has it, too. Jim Cantiello, backstage reporter for MTV News, called him "so talented his parents named him twice."
Regardless of how many times you say it, Phillip Phillips, a 20-year-old graduate of Lee County High School, is on a powerful roll toward becoming the next "American Idol." After a series of eliminations, Phillips wowed the audition crowd in Savannah on Jan. 18 with his rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition."
"It's like you have electricity going through your body," said singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, one of three judges on Fox-TV's popular "American Idol" TV show.
When the young vocalist unlimbered his guitar and delivered his stylized version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller," Idol judge Randy Jackson called him a "true artist."
Phillips' primary talent is singing, with a side order of rhythm guitar. He cites his major influence as Dave Matthews. His friends say he can play bass, piano and drums.
According to Phillips, he began playing guitar at an early age, hanging out with his brother-in-law, Ben Neil, of Ben Neil Music.
At least for now, information on Phillips' relationship with the Fox network TV show and his own expectations are limited, as the performer and his family are under contract with the production company not to provide any information.