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Sam Phillips Biography

Home > Music > P > Phillips, Sam > Biography

Birth Name: Leslie Ann Phillips
Born: 1962/01/28
Birth Place: Glendale, California, U.S.
Years Active: 1980—present
Genres: Alternative Rock

Sam Phillips, born Leslie Ann Phillipson on January 28, 1962, is an American singer and a songwriter.

Phillips was born in Glendale, California. She began her musical career as a vocalist in the early 1980's, singing back-up for Christian artists Mark Heard, Randy Stonehill, and others. Heard by a Myrrh Records red, Phillips was signed as a solo artist. Phillips released four Christian pop albums with Myrrh Records: “Beyond Saturday Night” (1983), “Dancing with Danger” (1984), “Black and White in a Grey World” (1984) and “The Turning” (1987), all of which received moderate success and did well on Christian radio.

Myrrh packaged Phillips as 'the Christian Cyndi Lauper,' which Phillips was never comfortable with and grew into an issue at the label. She began using the name "Sam" professionally in 1988 when she left Myrrh Records and signed with Virgin Records, partially in order to distance herself from her Myrrh-styled persona. Philips wanted to break through to mainstream pop audiences, which Virgin Records enabled her to do. Phillips' first release with Virgin was “The Indescribable Wow” (1989), followed by “Cruel Inventions” in 1991, which included a guest appearance from close friend Elvis Costello. A tour followed with Costello that exposed Phillips to a wider audience and began to gain the artist recognition from her peers, fans and critics alike. 1994's “Martinis and Bikinis” was widely praised by music critics and was nominated for a Grammy Award; this was Phillips' second nomination.

In 1996 saw Phillips released “Omnipop (It's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop),” which featured a song co-written by R.E.M. Despite Phillips steadily growing fan base and stable popularity, in 1999, Virgin Records dropped Phillips from its roster. Phillips bounced back and signed with Nonesuch Records in 2001and released a stripped-down acoustic album, “Fan Dance,” which featured some of the most critically acclaimed songwriting of Phillips's career. At this time Phillips also began writing music and scoring for the television series Gilmore Girls, which saw Phillips music reach a whole new generation of people.

Phillips's 2008 release, “Don't Do Anything,” was self-produced and showcased Phillips ability to have more of a creative license over her music. This release also brought out other creative instincts for Phillips who began to promote her up-coming concerts by releasing brief silent movies, which were made to resemble vintage Super-8 shorts, in which she held up signs indicating venue and date information. Her utilization of older forms of photography was also present in her tour poster imagery, composed of Polaroid snapshots. In 2009, Phillips launched "The Long Play,” a year-long subscription program offering five EPs and a full-length album release to be recorded and released digitally through the coming year, and did this without a label. The first EP in the series, “Hypnotists in Paris,” was recorded with the Section Quartet, followed by the Christmas collection, which was followed by the full length album "Cameras In The Sky" in early 2010. In Spring of 2011, Phillips released the album,"Solid State," available to the general public comprising of 13 songs taken from the 42 available through a "Long Play" subscription.