Georgia's own season 11 "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips performed Saturday night as co-headliner with O.A.R. during his first appearance at Chastain Park Amphitheatre.
Given the rocket launcher of a song "Home" to propel his career, Phillips is now onto his second album and has bagged two more hit singles "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "Raging Fire." (American Family Insurance is still using "Home" in its ads in 2014.)
He has recovered from his kidney stone issues that plagued him in 2012 and in an interview last week sounds thrilled to be touring around the country almost nonstop since he left "Idol" two years ago.
"I just love being on the road," Phillips said, "being in different cities, meeting new people and playing music. The only place I feel free is up on stage. I'm also the most nervous as well."
He said he hates it when he makes a mistake on stage and hopes nobody notices that "I have sweat going down my legs."
Phillips said his two-year journey since "Idol" has taught him that "you got to really do what you believe in and work hard to get what you want. Nothing's given to you. That's how I've done things all my life. Dad told me to work hard."
He said he is a nomad with no real home. His mail gets sent to his parent's home in Leesburg, which he visits every couple of months or so. (They still own their pawn shop there.)
This tour is a step up for him from his opening gig with Matchbox 20 last year. He now has enough original material to fill out a full 90-minute show with just a smattering of cover songs. He said he's thrown in songs by acts that he admires such as Peter Gabriel ("Digging in the Dirt"), Billy Joel ("Movin' Out"), Usher ("Nice and Slow") and Marvin Gaye ("Let's Get It On").
While working on his current album "Behind the Light," he ran into Marc Roberge, the lead singer of O.A.R. "We got to talk a little bit in the studio and get to know each other," Phillips said before his Atlanta appearance. "He said, 'We should tour together at some point.' "
Roberge's people eventually followed up with Phillips' people and it all worked out. "We're both jam bands yet we're completely different," he said. "It works. They get to play for my fans and I get to play for theirs. It's a good mix."
Phillips said putting the second album together was far less stressful than the first one. He was able to use his live band and give it as much of a live feel as possible.
Amazingly, through all this breakout fame, Phillips has kept the same girlfriend Hannah Blackwell for five years. "I love her dearly," he said. "She keeps me in line."
Season 7 was one of the top 3 seasons in my opinion with the friendly competition between runner-up David Archuleta and winner David Cook.
They had a surprise reunion in Utah Saturday night, where Cook was performing and Archuleta popped up on stage. Cook told him to play his big hit "Crush." So cool to see them back together!
Three "American Idol" contestants of year's past are in the top 25 on the Christian pop charts. Danny Gokey has his first top 10 hit with "Hope in Front of Me." Mandisa, who already has a No. 1 hit in her pocket, is at No. 12 with "Back To You." And at No. 21? Colton Dixon with "More of You."
Carrie Underwood's duet with Miranda Lambert on the country chart is up to No. 16. Scotty McCreery's 'Feelin' It" is struggling in the 30s, currently at No. 34. On the Hot AC chart, Daughtry's "Battleships" is in the same boat (ahem) as McCreery's song, currently at No. 33. Jennifer Hudson's "It's Your World" is at No.24 on the urban AC chart.
Here is Gokey's hit song. He had tried country a few years ago but Christian is in his pocket: