Phillips given key to Leesburg

Donnie and Sheryl Phillips, parents of Phillip Phillips, receive the Key to the city of Leesburg from Mayor Jim Quinn Wednesday. Phillip Phillips is a finalist on the popular network television show “American Idol,” and the Phillipses accepted the key on their son’s behalf.

Donnie and Sheryl Phillips, parents of Phillip Phillips, receive the Key to the city of Leesburg from Mayor Jim Quinn Wednesday. Phillip Phillips is a finalist on the popular network television show “American Idol,” and the Phillipses accepted the key on their son’s behalf.

LEESBURG, Ga. — Phillip Phillips, a finalist on the popular Fox television show “American Idol,” was awarded the key to the city of Leesburg Wednesday by Mayor Jim Quinn.

Phillips’ parents, Sheryl and Phillip (Donnie) Phillips, accepted the honor for their son, who was in Los Angeles with the “Idol” production company. Quinn also declared each Wednesday until the “Idol” competition is over to be Phillip Phillips Day.

Following a simple presentation by Quinn, Sheryl and Donnie Phillips related some of the history behind their son’s decision to audition for the show. He was recently named one of 13 finalist competing for the show’s top prize, Donnie Phillips said.

“All my children sing,” Phillips said, “but Phillip had talked about trying out for the show. I encouraged him to do it before now, but maybe this was the best time.”

Quinn said Wednesday’s ceremony marked only the fifth occasion during his four years as mayor that he’s awarded a gold key. Other recipients include San Francisco Giants star Buster Posey (twice), country music artist Luke Bryan and Eloise Green, a Lee County resident who turned 100 years old.

“Everyone in Leesburg is proud of Phillip Phillips,” Quinn said. “It’s just a token, but he sure deserves it. We couldn’t be more pleased with how he’s represented the city and Lee County.”

According to Quinn, the first real media attention surronding Phillips came from Fox News in Atlanta right after the singer won a place on the show.

“They were down here the day after the Savannah audition, looking for whatever information they could find. I don’t think they got a whole lot because the ‘Idol’ production company had family members under contract not to speak. They wound up just filming the pawn shop where he works and talking to some of his friends.”

Donnie Phillips said he and his wife are proud of their son, as they are of all their children, and thanked the community for the support given during the course of the show so far.

According to Donnie Phillips, a frustrating part of the process has been the desire to be at his son’s performances each week. “American Idol” pays no part of expenses for family travel or lodging, and Donnie Phillips said he feels that supporting his son is important to his success on the show.

“We didn’t start out wanting to be there so much,” Phillips said. “But when we saw how his face changed when he saw us in the audience, I knew we had to find a way to be there for him. I’ll borrow the money if I have to.”

Donnie Phillips described his family’s bond as “close,” his son as “a home body” and the Los Angeles media environment as “like another world.” Employed as an electrician, Donnie Phillips’ employer has been “less than completely tolerant” of his time away from work, according to Phillips, prompting him to leave his job in favor of the pawn shop he owns.

“I didn’t exactly quit my job,” Phillips said. “I just told them I wouldn’t be back.”

Still, airfares and living costs are high, and while the Phillipses are restrained by contract from soliciting contributions for such purposes, an independent effort to solve the issue is taking place within the community.

Rob Coulter, owner of the website Albany Uncovered, said he has approached a number of community businesses with the idea of making flat-rate or percentage-based contributions to a Phillips family expense fund.

According to Coulter, a special bank account is being established in Leesburg for participating merchants to deposit their pledge each Friday morning after “American Idol” voting on Thursday evenings. Coulter said businesses of various sizes have pledged some level of support for the cause, with some larger businesses pledging as much as 10 percent of their income each Phillip Phillips Day while he remains in the competition.


rock 3 years, 8 months ago

It is funny that keys are given and days named for singers and Jocks in Lee county, but not one active duty military member has been so recognized for his/her combat actions in Iraq or afghanistan. They may be able to sing and catch baseballs, but they are not in harms way or watching friends die and providing the safety these singers and jocks enjoy on the CHOSEN sacrifice of our military.


FlunkyMonkey 3 years, 8 months ago

This is the most ridiculous thing (so is the yard sale to pay his parents way to California). There are a lot of people out there who deserve a key more than this yahoo--and need a yard sale for REAL problems....to pay for cancer treatment, modify a home for a handicap person, to make life a little easier for an elderly person....


jglass 3 years, 8 months ago

I think it is fine what Lee County is doing for the singers, ball players, etc. Is Lee County kept up-to-date on the many citizens of their community who are in the military and who are sent to war? Maybe a group of their family members need to form a committee and bring it to the attention of the mayor of Leesburg. And, if people choose to do fund raisers for the Phillips family to help with their travel expenses that is great as well. I know the community helps a lot more "needy" people in so many ways as well. If this was your child in California, you would want to be there and you would ask for the help if you could not afford all of those expenses. He may possibly return ALL of this to Leesburg 10 fold!!!!!


TamewRod 3 years, 8 months ago

Get a grip on yourselves, folks, it's just a little lighthearted fun. It's the key to the tiny town of Leesburg, Georgia, after all, not a Purple Heart.


FlunkyMonkey 3 years, 8 months ago

Yea-but they're acting like this guy is the best thing since toe Oreo Cookie--Maybe Leesburg/Lee County needs to get a grip!


tywebb 3 years, 8 months ago

y'all know that this key doesn't really open anything, right? it's just a symbol to the recipient of how proud the town is of them. some of you are acting like it's the key to some lost treasure or they just made him the mayor or something. should they give keys to soldiers? absolutely. maybe the families of the soldiers can talk to someone downtown about that. and as far as the family getting help to pay for costs....more power to them. it's not like they're taking tax money or something. if you want to donate....donate. if you don't.....then don't. simple


firefly 3 years, 8 months ago

We understand the gravity at which these young men and women serve our country, but like a previous poster: how are we to know who they are? If no one steps up and informs, then we have no idea who is over there. We know these young men that sing and throw baseballs because they are on our television screens. Get off your high horse and start a campaign, you'll never get anywhere by complaining about. And stop raining on this young man's parade, let him have his 15 minutes.


Bubbles 3 years, 8 months ago

Congrats to Phillip Phillips, his family and the entire community! I, a former resident of Albany, am so excited to see POSITIVE news and community support vs. murder, rape, theft, etc. in the media. I am a military brat and couldn't agree more that our military forces aren't always acknowledged as they should be - HOWEVER, this isn't about who deserves this and that - it's warming to see a humble young man doing so well for himself. I haven't had so much fun following someones success in a long time. For once, the south is getting positive, educated and talented coverage instead of the ignorant, redneck people that so many tv shows portray us as. If you can't be positive and support someone, then don't say anything at all! Good luck Phillip and I WILL be watching and voting next week!


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