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Sam Phillips

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Glendale, California, United States

Sam Phillips (born January 28, 1962 as Leslie Phillips) is a singer/songwriter from Glendale, California, United States.

Phillips began her musical career as a vocalist in the early 1980s, singing background parts for Christian artists such as Mark Heard, Randy Stonehill, and others. After a short time, Phillips was signed to a solo contract with Myrrh Records (under her given name) where she went on to record four Christian pop albums: Beyond Saturday Night, Dancing With Danger, Black & White In A Grey World, and, The Turning, which teamed her with producer and future husband T-Bone Burnett. Throughout the Myrrh period, Phillips wrote more and more of her own songs and several were Top 10 singles on Christian radio.

Since Cyndi Lauper was popular at the time and also had an high-pitched, idiosyncratic vocal style, Myrrh insisted on promoting her as “the Christian Cyndi Lauper.” Phillips was never comfortable with this image, and it was a bone of contention between her and the label. She began using the name “Sam” professionally in 1988 when she left Myrrh Records and signed with Virgin Records, partially in order to distance herself from her somewhat embarrassing Myrrh-imposed persona.

Like many Christian artists before her, she expanded into more secular content at the new label. She released The Indescribable Wow, which featured the orchestrations of Van Dyke Parks. Cruel Inventions, which was released in 1991, included a guest appearance from close friend Elvis Costello, and she (with her husband) supported Costello on his 1991 tour. 1994’s Martinis & Bikinis was widely praised by music critics and was even nominated for a Grammy Award; this was Phillips’ first nomination.

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