Personality Profile: Houston Phillips cranks up young career in country music with tour
by GREG KAYLOR Banner Staff Writer
Nov 18, 2013 | 2103 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Houston Phillips
Houston Phillips

Being inspired by music at a young age was the foundation for a local man whose career has literally just gotten off the ground.

Houston Phillips did take a short break recently to add to his song collection, though.

Phillips recently went on the road with one of country music’s hottest rising stars.

Tyler Farr’s album “Redneck Crazy” hit the Billboard charts at No. 2 at its debut.

The single “Redneck Crazy” is in the Billboard Top 10.

Phillips is a songwriter, musician and Farr’s tour manager, but Phillips didn’t write this song which helped the album release to soar to the No. 1 spot, but then again — Phillips does have a favorite on the album.

It is “Ain’t Even Drinking.”

Phillips and the Tyler Farr group are currently touring with one of the most sizzling bands on the country music circuit.

“It’s been a blast,” Phillips said as he explained his days with Farr and Florida-Georgia Line, as well as Colt Ford.

Another song that has been released by Jerrod Niemann, “Real Women Drink Beer,” has spawned T-shirts and other popular memorabilia.

Phillips had been a student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

His dad, Gary Phillips, is a well-known Cleveland car salesman and met someone with a level of musical influence.

“My dad sold a car to country artist Mark Gray. He introduced me to Mark, who invited me to come to his home and play a couple of songs for him,” Phillips said.

“He told me … ‘To be honest with you … you aren’t very good.’”

“I would write and sing, write and sing. He (Gray) would teach me,” Phillips explained.

A seed was planted years ago when Phillips was younger. He had learned the basic chords on the guitar, but got away from it as he grew older and more into sports and other school-related activities.

Gary became his mentor and helped re-cultivate that seed which had been planted.

Gray had his own musical career performing, but two of his greatest songs were cut by Alabama.

“The Closer You Get” and “Take Me Down” were No. 1 hits for the group.

Gray personally recorded hits such as “Left Side of the Bed,” “Diamond in the Dust,” “It Ain’t Real, If It Ain’t You.”

He also collaborated with artists such as Tammy Wynette, Janie Fricke and Gary Morris.

In all, Gray had three albums, with eight Top 40 Country hits.

It was time for Phillips to study and further his education. He enrolled in Belmont University in Nashville.

Another Belmont student, artist and songwriter Kelley Loveless, wrote a book about songwriting and it was suggested that Phillips read it.

After reading the book, things began to click for Phillips.

“I was there all alone and knew no one,” Phillips said. “Then Mark decided to move from Chattanooga back to Nashville,” he added.

Phillips had a couple hundred songs written by then and was continuing to learn his word crafting.

While at Belmont, he met a number of people who are now in the music industry, including Farr and Neiman.

“There are tons of people in Nashville fighting for the same dream I have,” explained Phillips.

During his internship, Gray told Phillips, “Remember who you go to school with. You will see them in the industry someday.”

Phillips took those words to heart and built on relations with his classmates.

In about 30 minutes, “Real Women Drink Beer” became a song.

“The song began getting attention and I began working with Tyler as his tour manager,” Phillips said.

The “Redneck Crazy” song list and album was finished, but a couple of songs were bumped to make room for a Phillips song. Number seven made the list — “Ain’t Even Drinking.”

Since joining the Nashville scene just a few years ago, Phillips has had the opportunity to meet and work with Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert and others.

Next year, Farr and crew will tour with Jason Aldean, according to Phillips.

For right now, Phillips continues to travel the country. He is possibly in the air at this moment after spending this past weekend in California with Farr and the others who performed at the House of Blues in Anaheim and Los Angeles.

Phillips has a publishing deal with Music Mill Publishing and Jack Key and Ray Horton and plans on expanding deeper into the music industry.

He was recently married to Kristin Holloway and is a very loyal Tennessee Vols supporter.