The Matanzas High School senior takes the stage on May 4.
Taylor Phillips has a dream: “I would love to be a country artist, like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert.”
But even saying such a thing out loud is awkward for the Matanzas High School senior.
“It’s kind of stupid telling people,” she says, “because it doesn’t happen very often.”
Still, she believes in herself enough to perform. A couple of times a month, especially when school is out, she plays cover songs — “My Church, by Maren Morris, and “Who Will Save Your Soul,” by Jewel, are two of her favorites — at places in Flagler Beach like Saltwater Crocs for three hours at a time. So, she points out, she’s just like her peers, working at restaurants — except she’s singing rather than serving tables. “I don’t have anything to complain about,” she says. (She also plays sports: weightlifting, volleyball, lacrosse.)
And she writes, too. She says she has a couple of dozen songs in her repertoire, although she doesn’t sing them very often in public.
One day, though, Garry Lubi stopped by to hear her play. Lubi is the visionary behind the Palm Coast Songwriters Festival, which brings a dozen professional writers to town — people who have written songs for Phillips’ favorite stars. On Friday, May 3, the first day of the second-annual festival, he estimates that 25 No. 1 country hits will be performed by the songwriters. Between all the writers, there are about 200 Top 10 hits. It’s an opportunity to hear people who have made it big on a national level — something you don’t get very often in Palm Coast.
Lubi decided that at this year’s festival there should also be a local showcase. He just needed to find a few local songwriters. School Board member Andy Dance told him about Phillips, so he went to Saltwater Crocs to listen.
“I walked up to her when she had a break and told her what we were thinking about doing, and I asked her if she’d be willing to do it,” Lubi recalls. “She’s got a great voice, plays guitar, and we’re looking forward to having her. It’ll be exciting for her, too. … I’m going to try to introduce her to the other writers.”
Being invited to the festival was another step toward achieving Phillips’ dream.
“It was very cool,” she says. “I didn’t think I would ever be able to do anything like that.”
Phillips’ mother, Teresa, who helps teachers integrate technology in the classroom for Flagler Schools, says, “It helped with her confidence a lot, for someone other than her mom to tell her that it’s great.”