I have always loved acoustic guitar music, especially if the artist knows the intricacies of complex melodic harmonies. Phil Keaggy is one of the top guitarists in the world, and has recorded over fifty albums. He’s a musical genius who is unbelievably humble. I was blessed to watch an interview with him today and it made me remember why I love music. It also made my spirit soar to hear him say, I was 100% musician, and then when I was born again, I belonged to Jesus before I belonged to my guitar. I feel, you can have Jesus without music and have peace. Conversely, if your music is without the Lord, your life, in my opinion, goes nowhere.
Talking specifically about his instrumental albums, he said, I’ve done a couple instrumental albums. One is still waiting in the wings, and this one,The Song Within. It has a lot of flavors of the Master and the Musician. There’s a thread that’s been woven throughout all the years, a melodic thread, and I think it comes from the same heart and spirit I have. It’s like it says even though our outer man decays, our inner man is renewed day by day. Jesus never gets old.
Phil Keaggy is one of the most admired guitarists in music today. His fans range from those who aspire just to be able to play Keaggy’s mistakes, to professional musicians who have been strongly influenced by his style. And in between are those who don’t play guitar, yet find solace in his beautifully penned lyrics and memorable melodies.
Phil’s solo career has spanned more than thirty years, and has included over fifty solo albums, both vocal and instrumental, as well as 8 releases with his band, Glass Harp. One of the most sought after studio guitarists, Phil also continues to sell out concerts all over the United States, with his ever-changing style, ranging from rock-and-roll to fully orchestrated instrumental compositions.
Born on March 23, 1951 in Youngstown, OH, the ninth of ten children, Phil grew up in a home filled with music. On Phil’s 10th birthday, his brother, Dave returned home with a Sears Silvertone guitar. That’s when the magic began.
Phil spent most of his younger days involved in music, and at the young age of 13, he joined his very first band, the Keytones. He later went on to join such local groups as The Vertices, The Squires, and the Volume Four, who later changed their name to New Hudson Exit.
But in 1970 everything changed. Phil’s band Glass Harp (with childhood friend John Sferra – now a dedicated Christian – on drums, and Dan Pecchio on bass) recorded their self-titled first album and people really began to take notice of this incredibly gifted guitar player.
By 1972, Phil saw his life going in a different direction, and made the tough decision to leave Glass Harp and pursue a solo career. His first solo album, What A Day was recorded in just a week’s time during January 1973. He married his sweetheart Bernadette that summer, and the following year, they moved to Upstate New York and joined a Church community called Love Inn.
During his years there, Phil took a break from recording his own music. It wasn’t until three years later in 1976 that Phil would record his second solo album, Love Broke Thru, which was soon followed by a string of albums, including the much-acclaimed instrumental album, The Master And The Musician.
With the Christian Music industry really beginning to grow, Phil won his very first Dove award in 1988 for his instrumental album, The Wind and the Wheat. Phil’s second Dove Award came in 1992 for his Celtic-influenced, Beyond Nature. Each year from 1998 to 2001, Phil has dominated the Instrumental Record category at the Doves, winning for Invention, Acoustic Sketches, Majesty and Wonder, and most recently Lights of Madrid. For three years in a row, Phil was voted one of the top fingerstyle guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine readers.
On May 07, 2007 – Phil completed an album for the Green Hill Music label called Acoustic Cafe. This CD featured Phil performing covers of some all-time classics from the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, and many more.
On August15, 2007 – Phil’s album, Beyond Nature was voted #3 on the Top 100 Greatest Acoustic Guitar Albums and on September17, 2007 – Phil was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
These days, Phil Keaggy continues to delight audiences all over the US performing primarily acoustic shows, and occasional concerts with a band. He is aware that God gave him a calling to deliver the Gospel through his music, and for over 30 years, Phil Keaggy has been grateful to do just that, and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come. I certainly hope so! I’m waiting for his next album with baited breath!
Submitted 2009 April Lorier