The Kennedy Center

Phil Wiggins


Phil Wiggins was born in Washington, DC in 1954. He began his musical career with some of Washington’s leading blues artists including Archie Edwards and John Jackson. He attributes his style to his years spent accompanying slide guitarist and gospel singer Flora Molton. His harmonica sound developed from listening to piano and horn players, as well as the music of Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson I, Little Walter, Big Walter Horton and Junior Wells. Wiggins also apprenticed with Mother Scott (a contemporary of Bessie Smith). He first met John Cephas in 1976 at the Smithsonian National Folklife Festival. Along with pianist Wilber “Big Chief” Ellis and bassist James Bellamy, Cephas and Wiggins formed the Barrelhouse Rockers. A year after Ellis’ death, the duo of Cephas & Wiggins was born and as a performing duo, the pair has recorded a number of albums, toured under the auspices of the U.S. State Department, and been featured in four nationally touring arts programs sponsored by the National Council for the Traditional Arts. Visit for more information about Cephas & Wiggins.

Watch Past Performances

Video 8/6/2014: Phil Wiggins and Friends

The all-star blues and dance quartet features Phil Wiggins (harmonica), Rick Franklin (guitar and vocals), Marcus Moore (violin), and Junious Brickhouse (dance). Part of the Homegrown: The Music of America concert series.

Phil Wiggins