Phil Vassar - Judge
CLICK HERE FOR THE WINNERS OF THE PHIL VASSAR SWEEPSTAKES
Phil Vassar moved to Nashville from his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia hoping to make a name for himself as a singer. But songwriting proved to be his calling card -- the key that opened doors and earned Phil the recognition of the industry and his peers in the latter half of the '90s.
He got his moment in the spotlight a couple years later, though. Signed to Arista Nashville, Phil recorded the first of three albums (to date), and for the first time country radio listeners and fans got to hear his voice deliver the lyrics and melodies he wrote.
"Every song that I've ever written I can remember what I was thinking or why I wrote the song," Phil notes. Such is the case with "Bye, Bye" and "I'm Alright" (chart hits for Jo Dee Messina) -- the first found its origins in a divorce, while the latter was penned as a note to a lifelong friend after he and Phil had spent years separated by time and distance.
Here -- in Phil's voice -- these songs get the treatment you might have heard if you'd caught Phil playing a Nashville bar or club in the early or mid-'90s. A man and his piano, serving up glimpses of his past in words and images that could've been lifted from nearly anyone's life.
Phil's father was a singer -- a crooner who toured the country but found himself frustrated when his dreams of fame failed to materialize. While he inspired Phil, he also challenged him. But for those moments, Phil's mom was there ... and her nurturing and compassion are the inspiration behind "The Woman in My Life" one of three new songs on his Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, set to be released on May 2, 2006.
"The most important women in my life are my mother, my wife and my girls -- my kids -- so I incorporated them all." The song is another revealing and very personal piece -- Phil's depiction of his mother in the first verse sets the stage -- and provides the emotional stability -- that will lead him to the love of his life (co-writer and wife, Julie) in the second verse ... and to the two daughters whose lives he celebrates in the third.
Three compelling new songs ... newly minted versions of five fan-favorites that he wrote ... and in between, a list of back-to-back hits. Phil Vassar's Greatest Hits, Volume 1 is filled with nothing but Top 10 songs, and nearly half of them made the trip all the way to No. 1.
"Carlene" got things rolling for Phil in 1999. "Just Another Day in Paradise," "Six-Pack Summer" and "That's When I Love You" followed. "American Child" was the lead single and title track of Phil's second album ... and his most recent effort, Shaken Not Stirred, gave us the chart-topping "In a Real Love" and "I'll Take That As a Yes."
These songs -- on his new cd -- show Phil Vassar as he was meant to be seen and heard. Here he is the everyman -- the father, son, friend -- whose stories resonate with each of us. Here -- on CD -- he's every bit the entertainer he is onstage night-after-night. Here he is the songwriter we've known for years ... but also the singer -- a voice of depth and conviction that can only come from true experience and real-life emotion. It's a voice Phil has always had, but these songs allow him to put it forward in a way he's never done before -- much as he does in concert. Maybe it's because those early hits written for others carry so much sentimental value ... maybe it's because the three new songs evoke such raw feelings ... and maybe it's because -- as he compiles his first Greatest Hits collection -- Phil Vassar has grown comfortable with being the artist that he is and has always been.
"I was a singer way before I was a songwriter. I had to develop that songwriting talent, that piano playing," Phil recalls. On Greatest Hits, Volume 1 he gets to put all of those talents on display ... and to do so with songs that truly span the breadth of his career.
Maybe when he looks in the mirror now, Phil sees the complete package everyone else does -- the multi-talented performer who drew inspiration from the likes of Billy Joel, Elton John, Bruce Hornsby and Jerry Lee Lewis as a young man ... who found a way to combine their influence with the bluegrass and mountain music that he heard from the hills of his native Virginia ... added to it the R-&-B rhythms that wafted in from the shores of the Carolina coasts not far away ... and brought his dreams and music to Nashville in the hope that someone there would help him find a place for his music.
"It's been a crazy tumultuous little journey, but it's been fun as hell," he says. "I'd say this project has really healed a lot of wounds, but I don't think they were really wounds. But I do know it's put closure on a lot of stuff. It's the best work I've ever put together."
You know the songs, but you've never really heard them ... until now. And after you've listened to Phil Vassar's Greatest Hits, Volume 1, you may discover that you didn't fully know the man behind them ... until now. Look for "Phil Vassar's Greatest Hits, Volume 1" in stores May 2.
FUN FACTS ON PHIL VASSAR
What celebrity do people say you look like?
I always hear Keifer Sutherland.
What's on your playlist?
Right now, I am making a new record and when I am working on a record I find that I really can't listen to anything.
The craziest or most daring thing I have ever done...
What three things couldn't you live without?
Kids, pizza and music.
Official website: www.philvassar.com