WhatsUp Interview: Catching Up With RI Music Hall of Famer Phil Madeira

RI Native is Musical Director of the Emmylou Harris Band

Pictured: Phil Madeira, Photo: Rick Farrell

Rhode Island-born musicians play in bands far and wide across the USA. We recently spoke with one of them, Barrington native and RI Music Hall of Fame Member Phil Madeira, who has a Kickstarter campaign on now in support of an upcoming release.

Newport Jazz

Madeira made his debut at the Newport Jazz Festival this summer, playing piano with his trio at “Storyville,” the intimate Museum Stage. The room was full for his swinging set, which included songs from his recent albums “Crickets” and “Providence.”

Madeira explained …

- Advertisement -

“Playing Newport Jazz was one of the highlights of my life! I hope they ask me back. Bringing my best pal drummer Bryan Owings topped it off.  If nothing else, the invitation to Newport Jazz Festival confirmed the idea of paying attention to your dreams and following your heart. I’ve been an Americana musician for years, but once I let this side of me show (the jazz side), the world opened up to me as a serious artist. I’m grateful!”

Since the mid-1980s, Madeira has worked with numerous “A List” Nashville stars including Garth Brooks, Taj Mahal, Amy Grant, and The Civil Wars. He is perhaps best known, however, in his role as leader of the Red Dirt Boys, the backing band of country-rock icon Emmylou Harris. He shared some thoughts on her influence.

“Working with Emmylou is one of the joys of my life. The last 11 years have been amazing, touring with what has become a little family. We have celebrated together and we’ve grieved together. She has taught me grace; I’ve never seen anyone (except perhaps my beloved father) who walks with such dignity and grace, no matter what. From a practical standpoint, learning to harmonize with one of the most iconic singers in history has taught me to listen, and taught me to sing. I’m still learning.”

Open Heart

Maderia is working on a new album entitled Open Heart, slated for a February 2020 release.

“The ten songs that comprise my new project Open Heart started with one I wrote in a hotel room in Newport around Christmas 2017, called “Rock On Your Shore.” I’d been to Elephant Rock that day, and the image of that steady icon spoke to me. The record is all love songs. I’m kickstarting it right now, and would love some Rhode Island help- here’s the link- https://tinyurl.com/y2swhzs8.”

Growing up in Rhode Island has left its mark on one of Nashville’s finest musicians.

“The last two years have been a time of reflecting on my roots, as evidenced in my Providence record, which will always be my favorite record.  The great writing coaches always say, “Write what you know,” and that album proves their point.  I am so grateful to have been inspired by my home state and the great people there, and to have come back to such a beautiful welcome still thrills me. I love Rhode Island.”

Click here to learn more about Phil Madeira’s Kickstarter campaign.

We value local independent news, information, and journalism.  We hope you do too. Please consider becoming a What’s Up Rhode Island Supporter today.