“Hold on to me as we go, as we roll down this unfamiliar road. And although the wave is stringing us along, just know you are not alone. Cause I’m going to make this place your home.”
Those were the lyrics that an emotional 21 year old Phillip Phillips sang standing on the biggest platform known to singers in America; the finale of season 11 of American Idol. As the tears fell and the audience rose to their feet, the reality sank in, a true artist had won. With a record breaking, 132 million votes, the Leesburg, Georgia native was crowned.
Curiosity was sparked by the viewers from the very beginning of the season. With his Savannah audition, a nervous Phillip performed a gritty original version of Stevie Wonder’s classic “Superstition”. But when the judges asked him to pick up his guitar for an encore performance, his rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” had everyone watching tapping their toes along with him.
Throughout the the competition, Phillip was given praise for his originality and unique vocal abilities and week after week, audiences were amazed at his determination to remain true to himself. Letting his artistry shine, he maintained the reputation of never caving to what was asked of him if it didn’t fit his personality. As the season progressed, what people saw was a talented artist emerge, growing stronger and more confidant in himself.
With standout performances nearly every week, including the Billy Joel hit “Moving Out” and a memorable duet with fellow contestant Joshua Ledet, singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers, it was still an awe inducing moment when he received the only standing ovation during the final episode.
Perhaps his highest praise was given to him by one of his own idols, legendary Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac; “Had it been you, me and [fellow Fleetwood Mac singer Lindsay Buckingham] in 1975, Mick Fleetwood would have asked all three of us to be part of Fleetwood Mac. You’re that good.’
Yet runner up Jessica Sanchez said it best in a Fox post finale interview, “He has everything about him. He has his funny side and his humble side, and he is just an amazing, original artist.” Now all people can do is sit back and watch as the career of the immensely talented Phillip Phillips unfolds before us.