Phil Vassar

Phil Vassar

Infobox musical artist
Name = Phil Vassar

Img_capt = Vassar performing in July 2007
Background = solo_singer
Born = birth date and age|1962|05|28
Origin = Lynchburg, Virginia, USA
Instrument = Vocals
Genre = Country
Occupation = Singer-songwriter
Years_active = 1997—present
Label = Arista Nashville
Universal South
Associated_acts = Engelbert Humperdinck
Alan Jackson
Jo Dee Messina
Tim McGraw

Phil Vassar (born May 28, 1962, in Lynchburg, Virginiacite web |url= |title=Phil Vassar biography |accessdate=2008-05-03 |last=Huey |first=Steve |work=Allmusic] ) is an American country music artist. Vassar made his debut on the country music scene in the late 1990s, co-writing singles for several country artists, including Tim McGraw ("For a Little While", "My Next Thirty Years"), Jo Dee Messina ("Bye, Bye", "I'm Alright"), Collin Raye ("Little Red Rodeo"), and Alan Jackson ("Right on the Money"). In 1999, he was named by ASCAP as Country Songwriter of the Year.

Later that same year, Vassar was signed to Arista Nashville as a recording artist. His debut album, "Phil Vassar", was released in early 2000; it produced five hit singles on the U.S. "Billboard" country singles charts and was certified gold in the United States. He followed it in 2002 with "American Child", "Shaken Not Stirred" in 2004, and finally "Greatest Hits, Vol. 1" in 2006 before Vassar left the label for Universal South Records. His first album for that label, "Prayer of a Common Man", was released in early 2008.

Overall, Vassar's five studio albums have produced sixteen singles on the "Billboard" Hot Country Songs charts, including two Number Ones: 2000's "Just Another Day in Paradise" and 2004's "In a Real Love".


Phil Vassar was born May 28, 1964 in Lynchburg, Virginia; he was also raised in Lynchburg, where his father owned a steakhouse.cite web |url= |title=Phil Vassar biography |accessdate=2008-05-03 |work=Musician Guide] In high school, Vassar was an athletic star, participating in American football and track and field. Initially, his musical interests included James Taylor, Elton John, and Billy Joel.

He attended James Madison University on a track scholarship, where he was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity, eventually graduating with a degree in business administration. While in college, however, Vassar had taken up playing the piano, and eventually found work as a singer in clubs. He had decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee in order to pursue a career in music; initially, he found work at various odd jobs such as bartending. Eventually, he was signed to a small publishing contract, but was unable to land any hits on this contract.

Musical career

As a songwriter

In 1995, Vassar and a friend opened an Italian restaurant called Nathan's in a Nashville suburb. The restaurant regularly featured live music and songwriters' nights, and soon, Vassar himself began performing at his restaurant, performing his own material as well as cover songs. One of the restaurant's patrons heard Vassar's music and sent one of his demo tapes to his father, pop singer Engelburt Humperdinck. Humperdink recorded one of Vassar's songs ("Once in a While"), and soon afterward, Vassar landed his second publishing contract, this time with EMI.

Starting in the late 1990s, Vassar began writing songs which were recorded by several country music artists. Among the artists who recorded his material were BlackHawk ("Postmarked Birmingham"), Collin Raye ("Little Red Rodeo"), Jo Dee Messina ("Bye, Bye", "I'm Alright"), Tim McGraw ("For a Little While"), Alan Jackson ("Right on the Money"), and Neal McCoy ("I Was"). Of these, "Bye, Bye", "I'm Alright", and "Right on the Money" all reached Number One on the country charts. "Bye, Bye" also earned Vassar his first ASCAP award for Song of the Year. Furthermore, ASCAP named him as 1999's Songwriter of the Year.

As a singer

In late 1999, Vassar was signed to his first recording contract, with the Arista Nashville label. His debut single, "Carlene", was issued that year, and by mid-2000 the song had gone on to peak at #5 on the "Billboard" country charts. The song, about two friends whose lives exceeded the expectations of her high school peers, was inspired by Vassar's own life (the male protagonist being a former sports star turned songwriter), while actress Cindy Crawford served as the inspiration for the female character in the song.

The lead-off single to Vassar's self-titled debut album, "Carlene" was followed by "Just Another Day in Paradise", which became the singer's first Number One hit. Shortly after that song peaked, another song written by Vassar reached the top of the country charts — Tim McGraw's "My Next Thirty Years". This, along with Marshall Dyllon's "Live It Up", would be among Vassar's last contributions for another artist. Overall, "Phil Vassar" produced three more singles: the #16 "Rose Bouquet", "Six-Pack Summer" at #9, and finally "That's When I Love You", a #3. In addition, the album itself earned a gold certification from the RIAA. Its success led to tours with Kenny Chesney.

"American Child"

"American Child" was the title of Vassar's second album, released in 2002, the same year that he married the former Julie Wood, co-writer of his single "That's When I Love You". The album's autobiographical title track served as its lead-off single, reaching a peak of #5 on the country charts; the album itself peaked at #4 on the Top Country Albums charts. While "American Child" was climbing the charts, Arista tested another song written by Vassar, entitled "This Is God"; this song was so well-received by test audiences that "American Child" was recalled and re-released in early 2003. (The re-issue featured "This Is God" along with a cover of Huey Lewis and the News's "Workin' for a Livin'".) "This Is God" was subsequently issued as the album's second single, becoming a Top 20 country hit; however, the album's third single ("Ultimate Love") fell short of the Top 40.

"Shaken Not Stirred" and "Greatest Hits"

In 2004, Vassar released his third studio album. Entitled "Shaken Not Stirred", the album produced Vassar's second Number One hit in the song "In a Real Love". Also released from this album were the #17 "I'll Take That as a Yes (The Hot Tub Song)" and the #22 "Good Ole Days". Unlike with his first two albums, Vassar recorded "Shaken Not Stirred" with his road band.

Vassar's first greatest hits compilation, "Greatest Hits, Vol. 1", was issued in 2006. This album featured not only the greatest hits from his first three studio albums, but also his renditions of several songs that he had written for other singers before becoming a country star in his own right — "Bye, Bye", "I'm Alright", "My Next Thirty Years", and "Little Red Rodeo".

The album's lead-off single was the ballad "Last Day of My Life", a ballad in which the narrator leaves a friend's funeral with the realization that he has not been paying enough attention to his wife; Vassar was inspired to write "Last Day of My Life" after attending the funeral of his friend Robert Byrne, co-writer of Vassar's 2001 single "Rose Bouquet".cite web |url= |title=Phil Vassar Video Debut On CMT and GAC |accessdate=2008-05-03 |last=Haislop |first=Nel |date=2006-03-30 |work=KZAX] The second and final single, "The Woman in My Life" (another song co-written by Vassar and his wife), reached Top 20 on the country charts, shortly before Vassar parted ways with Arista Nashville.

"Prayer of a Common Man"

In March 2007, Vassar signed to Universal South Records. [cite web |url= |title=Phil Vassar signs with Universal South Records |accessdate=2008-05-03 |date=2007-03-05 |work=That's Country] His first single for the label, "This Is My Life", was released in mid-2007, peaking at #35 on the country music charts. Succeeding it was "Love Is a Beautiful Thing"; a Jeffrey Steele-Craig Wiseman collaboration, this song was originally recorded in 1999 by Canadian country singer Paul Brandt under the title "It's a Beautiful Thing". By April 2008, "Love Is a Beautiful Thing" had reached Top 5 on the country charts, and Vassar's first album for Universal South (entitled "Prayer of a Common Man") was released. A third single from this album, "I Would", was issued in July 2008.


Between 2002 and 2007, Vassar was married to the former Julie Wood, with whom he co-wrote his singles "That's When I Love You" and "The Woman in My Life". Wood's brother, Jeff Wood, is also a country music artist, having charted three singles of his own in 1997, and having co-written several tracks on Vassar's albums. Phil and Julie filed for divorce in mid-2007. [cite web |url=,3034,GAC_26063_5665472,00.html |title=Phil Vassar and wife are divorcing |accessdate=2008-05-03 |date=2007-08-09 |work=Great American Country] Vassar has two daughters: Presley (with Wood-Vassar) and Haley, from a previous marriage.



External links

* [ Official website]
*myspace|philvassar|Phil Vassar

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