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There’s no place like home for Phillip Phillips

American Idol contestant Phillip Phillips performs as a TV cameraman works from the edge of the stage during Saturday's hometown concert at Lee County High School in Leesburg.

American Idol contestant Phillip Phillips performs as a TV cameraman works from the edge of the stage during Saturday's hometown concert at Lee County High School in Leesburg.

LEESBURG, Ga. — If someone went looking for the heart of a community, that heart could be found moving to the beat at the Saturday afternoon welcome-home celebration for “American Idol” finalist Phillip Phillips.

Fans have fun, show love for their hometown 'American Idol'

LEESBURG — It was a fun-filled day in Leesburg and the fans of “American Idol” and Phillip Phillips didn’t let a long delay dampen their fun.

While waiting for the Top 3 finalist, music played over a loudspeaker and the crowd took that as their cue to sing and dance to songs like “YMCA,” “The Electric Slide” and the music from “Grease.”

Clouds kept the sun hidden and a light breeze made the temperature more pleasant. Smiles and laughter could be seen and heard throughout the football stadium at Lee County High School.

But at the end of the day, it was all about Phillip Phillips.

Nearly 20,000 strong, the fans could hardly contain their love and enthusiasm.

Lisa Burke and Deborah Kearce arrived early for the concert to support Phillips in his quest to be an American Idol. They said there were a few ingredients that made Phillips the man he is today.

“He has had great family support, a great school system and good friends,” said Burke. “He deserves the recognition.”

Phillips is certainly recognized in his community and in Perry, Fla. Carrying a sign that proclaimed three generations traveled 300 miles round trip, Melissa Moody and her family were proud to support Phillips.

“He is just himself. He is so cool,” Moody said. “We’re former Leesburg residents and we had to come back as a family to show him our support.”

A strong supporter, Sandy McLendon said she felt like Phillips was the best on the show and should win. She carried a sign that said she wanted to “Rock the vote for Phillip Phillips.”

“He is going to win American Idol,” McLendon said. “He’s a very good singer and he deserves to get it.”

—Pete Skiba & Casey Dixon

Almost 20,000 people turned out to applaud the parade in Phillips honor and attend a concert by the singer and his backup band of local musicians at the Lee County High School football field.

Delays in the parade that made Phillips more than an hour late for his concert did not dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. Alternating between chants of “Phillips! Phillips! Phillips!” and sing-along songs to recorded music, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause when he took the stage.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone for all their support,” Phillips said. “This is so ... woooow. This is crazy. I don’t know what to say. I want to thank everyone in this town and community and wherever you all came from.”

From Congress and the Georgia General Assembly, to county and city governments, everyone either had a Congressional Certification of Recognition, a proclamation from the governor, an oversized library card, a plaque or a key to the city for Phillips.

The day was also proclaimed Phillip Phillips day in Leesburg and Lee County. In recent honors, Phillips joins World Series Champion catcher Buster Posey and country recording artist Luke Bryan.

“Southwest Georgia’s Second Congressional District has the brightest, most talented and most creative people in the world,” said U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. “On behalf of your friends and neighbors we promise you our support and our 600,000 votes for you to be the next ‘American Idol’.”

State Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg, introduced himself to Phillips and offered a proclamation of support from Governor Nathan Deal. It is presumed the governor will vote for Phillips on American Idol.

As a contender on the show, Phillips’ strength comes from his singing and his musicianship. When he got down to it with his band of local musicians, including his sisters and brother-in-laws, the crowd roared its approval.

After a well-played instrumental jazzy jam, Phillips said, “Hey that was good. They’ve been practicing for me.”

Phillips and his band then made the Stevie Wonder song “Superstition” their own to the delight of cheering fans. With that song Phillips showed that he believed the music was the real key to the city’s heart.

“He has always been about the music,” said Phillips’ drummer and friend Paul Ward. “I really watched his growth from the beginning to now on the show.”

Judging from Phillips’ facial expressions while playing guitar, music is the real way he conveys his joy of living to his audience, his community.

It is the joy that music brings to a community that brought Brittany Stalvey to the field to hear Phillips. Stalvey has breast cancer but her smile and enthusiasm defy the disease.

“It is just such a joy to see the community come together like this,” Stalvey said. “And Phillip is such a good singer. My daughter just adores him.”

At the concert 4-year-old Mayson Stalvey didn’t have much to say. She did join the consensus of the younger set that Phillips not only can sing better than Justin Bieber, but he is also better looking.

View the Spotted Gallery of the Hometown Concert.

Comments

coachjohnson42 2 years, 6 months ago

This was big for Lee County....Congrats Phillip Phillips and family.

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ittibittime 2 years, 6 months ago

Nice to see you post something nice, Coach.

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coachjohnson42 2 years, 6 months ago

Oh come on....I'm not that bad....

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Cartman 2 years, 6 months ago

Coach consistently posts positive comments about local success stories, especially when it involves young folks. It speaks well of you coach. And I join you in your congrats to Phillip Phillips!

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 6 months ago

Me and Coach are hoping and praying for PP to win it all and get a big sloppy kiss from J-Lo. At this point I think Philip has a pretty good chance of winning it all because he will be getting the 12-25 Female vote. In short (as I posted a couple of days ago) Jessica is a R&B wanna-be, Christina Aguilera clone and I hate that kind of so-called music (though she does it extremely well!) but it won't win when you consider that her votes will be split with Joshua Ledet who is by far the best singer AND stage performer and could go straight to Vegas and make a million as the headliner at the Bellagio. In the end, the bulk of the vote will go to Philip (caucasian female age 14-25) and he will win. In any event, he has proven that he is the most talented and unique arranger/performer in the group. Go Philip!

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coachjohnson42 2 years, 6 months ago

I really do like Phillip Phillips. He has a unique style and voice unlike any of the other singers. So, whether he wins or not, he will have an awesome album one day. I hope he makes a song about SOUTH GEORGIA......putting us on the map Nationally!!!

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FlunkyMonkey 2 years, 6 months ago

This has got to be the BIGGEST ego in our area right now...

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 6 months ago

No he doesn't have an ego problem. He is just as humble as he ever was.

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alleebrin 2 years, 6 months ago

I see nothing wrong with "BIGGEST ego," on someone who is "biggest in our area right now." He's worked hard and has a very good attitude!! Go, Phillip, you are terrific!!!

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VSU 2 years, 6 months ago

Just think, by next week it will all be over. Seems like yesterday we were just happy Phillip made the top 20. Fast forward a few weeks later, he is less than two weeks away from being our next new American Idol.

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agonized 2 years, 6 months ago

That's a great accomplishment! I love when someone from the South shows their talent, intellect or skill, just to break the stereotype that all Southerners are too busy eating dirt and marrying their cousins to care about or produce exceptional artistic, athletic or intellectual talent.

Like Sister_Ruby, I think Phillip will win but maybe for a different reason. This is going to sound vague, because I can't remember where I heard it, but someone statistically studied the finalists in AI (I wonder if they were paid for THAT.). It showed that if there was a finalist competitor from the South, he/she nearly always won. I have no idea where the two other finalists are from, as I haven't watched, but Sister's theory sounds very reasonable to me.

In any event, it seems he has the talent to back it up. I knew it must be pretty serious when PPMH had a sign up supporting him! Congrats to Phillip Phillips!

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tywebb 2 years, 6 months ago

the other 2 are from louisianna and california. last years runner-up, i think, was also from georgia. northwest GA. not sure where the country boy who won last year was from.

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DoctorDorite 2 years, 6 months ago

The odds makers in Vegas are giving the edge to PP, he's the only one left of the 3 that has never finished in the bottom 3 in votes, the girl was 'saved" once from being sent home and has been in the bottom also and the boy has finished several times in the bottom. The odds makers are usually right, thats how they make their dollars so don't bet against them ! Don't ask me how I know, LOL

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 6 months ago

Isn't it nice that we can all be friends on this topic.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 6 months ago

I am so proud of Phillip and his family. I am also proud of G&S Experience for helping Phillip with the good music on Saturday. It was a good time for all who attended.

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alleebrin 2 years, 6 months ago

Very nice for Phillip and his family! Nice to see a youngster get in there and pitch. A bit of positive attitude and hard work go very good together!! I will be voting for him to win all!!!

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Clyde 2 years, 6 months ago

IMO Phillip's already won. I figure that all who make it to the top 5 are winners in many ways. Watch and see. Even those that don't win #1 we will see in the future on all kinds of things. Talk shows, they will get some type of contract even if it's not with the American Idol folks. I agree with many who say this year we have a super group of talented youth, maybe the best so far. I'm very proud of them all. One thing they've kept quiet is Phillips health. I just hope and pray he takes good care of himself and doesn't let the fast pace of fame allow his health get away from him.

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