Swann Performs Live at his CD Release Show on August 17, 2011
|Birth name||Phillip Douglas Swann|
November 8, 1960|
Milton, West Virginia
|Occupation(s)||singer-songwriter, Composer, producer, Arranger, Teacher, Author|
Phil Swann (born Phillip Douglas Swann, November 8, 1960, Milton, West Virginia, United States) is an American singer, songwriter, composer, record producer, arranger, songwriting teacher and author. His songs have been heard in television, film, on the theatrical stage, and have been recorded by numerous recording artists including: Clay Aiken, Lee Ann Womack, Blake Shelton, Neal McCoy, Rodney Atkins, Kristin Garner and Lee Greenwood.
Phil Swann was born to father Lewis Swann, a sign painter and engineer, and mother, Nancy (née Douglas). He was raised outside Huntington in the small town of Milton, West Virginia. He has two older siblings, Linda and Greg.
At age 14, Swann began playing piano and singing in local churches, American Legions and civic organizations in-and-around the Tri-State area (West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky). When he was 16, Swann was cast in the long running professional summer stock musical, The Hatfields and McCoys, in Beckley, West Virginia. Upon returning for his senior year of high school, Swann enrolled part-time at Marshall University where he studied theatre and speech in the evenings. He subsequently participated in the college’s theatrical productions and concerts. After graduating from Milton High School, Swann moved to New York City to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In New York, Swann continued playing piano and singing as a way of supporting himself while in acting school. He performed with bands, played on recording sessions and worked as a solo performer in piano bars throughout the city.
After graduating from college, Swann went on the road acting in various productions but ultimately found playing music more lucrative. He formed numerous bands and performed all over the country in hotels, nightclubs and on the County and State fair circuit. For a time, Swann moved to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to break into the legendary Muscle Shoals music scene as a songwriter and session player. Though his time in Muscle Shoals was short-lived and unheralded, professional relationships were formed that would later become important in his career. After a brief stint in Nashville, Swann went back on the road playing music with songwriting being the center of his focus. In 1988, he moved to Los Angeles.
In 1991, Swann was signed to the newly formed Los Angeles based music publishing company Southern Cow Music, a company started by his friend, Hollywood talent agent, Steve Bloch. Beyond writing songs for Southern Cow, Swann also took on the role of listening to other songwriter’s songs being pitched to the company. Swann has said in interviews that this period “on the other side of the desk” was one of the most valuable learning experiences in his career. “I started hearing my own songs with the ears of a executive and it changed everything.” Swann established himself as a prolific and sought after songwriter through the 90s, garnering cuts on many artists' albums and becoming a fixture in the LA songwriting scene. When Southern Cow Music relocated its main offices to Nashville in 1996, Swann stayed in Los Angeles to head-up the west coast office as Vice-President.
For most of the 90s and mid-2000s, Swann spilt his time between Los Angeles and Nashville, penning songs for the biggest names in country and pop music. He also became very active with the Songwriter’s Guild of America, initially by holding songwriting workshops for the organization’s non-profit foundation, then ultimately being named to the organization's Board of Directors. Through the guild, Swann became friends and a collaborator with legendary songwriters such as Jack Segal, Bobby Troop, Vic Mizzy, Donald Kahn, Al Kasha and Ray Evans.
In 2000, Steve Bloch orchestrated a deal that landed Swann a songwriting and producer contract with DreamWorks SKG; the company owned by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen; the music division of the company was headed up by iconic music chiefs, Mo Ostin, Chuck Kaye and James Stroud. At the time, the label was having success with artists such as Nelly Furtado, Papa Roach and All-American Rejects along with Nashville artists, Toby Keith, Jessica Andrews, Tracy Lawrence and Randy Travis. Swann wrote for the company until its dissolution in 2005.
In 2005, actor, writer and Second City alumni, Ron West, approached Swann to co-write a musical comedy based upon Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. A year later, The People Vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet was co-produced by The Second City and The Chicago Shakespeare theatre. The show was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for three Jeffrey Joseph Awards including Best New Musical. Swann has gone on to compose music for the award winning off-Broadway musical, Play It Cool, as well as, DeLEARious (another Swann / West collaboration), which received the 2009 Garland Award from Backstage for Best New Score. Other musicals by Swann include, In a Booth at Chasen’s, Trombone, Neil Simon’s Fools the Musical, Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits and It Had To Be You - a musical based on the life and songs of the famed lyricist, Gus Kahn. Fools the Musical premiered on February 1, 2013 at Ramone C Cortines School for the Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles.
Swann’s production credits include: Helen Slater, Laura Hall, Kelly McCleod, Roberta Duchak, Daniel Nahmod, Jennifer Capelo, Adrina Thorpe and Greg Rowles. Swann is also credited as the producer on the cast recordings of his musicals, The People Vs Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet and Play It Cool. Play It Cool was selected as one of eight productions to present at the 2010 National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT) festival in New York City. In 2013, Swann produced folk band The Good Mad's EP, Alta.
Since 1998, Swann has taught on the art and craft of songwriting at UCLA through the school's extension program. He currently sits on the Board of Advisors for the school's music production program.
On May 24, 2011, Phil Swann released his first solo CD, Stale Scotch and Cheap Cigars. The CD received critical acclaim and Swann has performed shows in New York City and Los Angeles. On November 30, 2012, Swann released his EP, Age of Opportunity.
Phil Swann is married to theatre educator, Amanda Swann. They currently reside in Los Angeles. He is a cousin to Country music superstar, Brad Paisley. He has no relation, however, to Billy Swan.
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