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Utah Phillips


Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips

(© Daemon Records, 2005)

Description of Utah Phillips' Music :

Traditional singer/songwriter, story-teller


When not singing his own songs, Utah Phillips occasionally sang songs by the old labor agitator Joe Hill. His activist, anarchist, labor- and railroad-centric tunes bring to mind great folksingers like Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

Utah Phillips Trivia:

Utah took his moniker U. Utah Phillips as a tribute to his country singer hero T. Texas Tyler.

Recommended CDs by Utah Phillips:

Good Though (Philo Select, 1973) Compare Prices

We Have Fed You All a Thousand Years (Philo Select, 1983) Compare Prices

Fellow Workers (with Ani Difranco Band (Righteous Babe, 1999) Compare Prices

Purchase/Download Utah Phillips MP3s:

Utah Phillips Biography:

Bruce (Utah) Phillips was born in May 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio, but grew up in Utah. As a teenager, he ran away from home and began riding the rails and singing songs about the life of a hobo. He took the name U. Utah Phillips (a tribute to his musical hero T. Texas Tyler). In his 20s, he joined the Army and served a tour in the Korean War, to which much of his social and political views have been credited.

After his short tenure with the US Army (about three years), Phillips returned to the states and teamed up with Ammon Hennacy (of the Catholic Worker Movement) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Together, Phillips and Henacy set up the Joe Hill House - a mission hospitality house.

In 1968, he unsuccesfully ran for the United States Senate as a member of the Utah State Peace and Freedom Party. In an attempt to raise money for his next campaign, he headed to New York to try to sell some of his original songs. There he met up with folksinger and feminist activist Rosalie Sorrels, who convinced him to start touring the coffeehouse circuit with his songs and stories.

His 1973 debut, Good Though (compare prices), introduced his audiences to his obsession with railroad history and the social and labor issues surrounding them.

A card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World (a.k.a. IWW, a.k.a. "the wobblies"), Phillips is also a major advocate for labor unions. Many of his original songs tell stories of labor struggles and workers rights, and he continues to sing the songs of the old wobblies that were penned by folks like Joe Hill.

He worked with Rosalie Sorrels and Ani DiFranco, and was nominated for a Grammy Award for his collaborations with DiFranco. In 1997, he was recognized by the North American Folk Alliance for a lifetime achievement award. On May 23, 2008, Utah Phillips died from complications associated with heart disease.

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