The Kennedy Center

Phillip Noss


Phillip Noss was born in Washington DC and spent his youth in a beautiful northwestern neighborhood known as the Palisades. His idyllic community was reminiscent of a small town America, renowned for its country spirit and respected for its big city inhabitants.

Phillip’s father bought him his first acoustic guitar from a neighborhood music shop and set about showing him the fundamentals. Phillip immediately started trying to decipher the music of the families’ record collection, spending hours pouring over the vintage titles. Eventually, he began attending weekly lessons in Washington’s Dupont Circle, where he was initially taught to sing and play simultaneously. He became increasingly interested in the relationship between the lyrics and music and began to compose songs that closely reflected the music from the old recordings. He now claims, that his instructors’ synchronized vocal and instrumental method, molded his passion for songwriting and lyrics. Writing music and words slowly developed into his sole preoccupation and took the place of merely mastering the songs of his predecessors.

Subsequently, Phillip enrolled at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts to further pursue his musical aspirations. He studied guitar under the instruction of classical guitarist Steve Smith and also played in The New Washingtonians jazz ensemble under the tutelage of the great Davey Yarborough. The Washingtonians performed throughout the Metropolitan area, including a benefit concert hosted by Dave Chappelle, annually at the East Coast Jazz Festival as well as at the Jazz Under The Stars festival in the Bahamas. Phillip was also involved in several theater productions such as The Laramie Project for which he was nominated for an award, and Patience Wept. During his adolescent years, he also fronted a motley crew of rock and rollers known as The Peaceful Soul Brothers who performed at local venues. The innovative environment of the school and bands inspired him to compose numerous songs whilst also introducing him to the realities artistic life.

During this time, Phillip was taken under the wing of a local songwriter who introduced him the importance of musical simplicity and a conscious use of space. Phillip was exposed to new lyrical structures and direct poetic language that tremendously influenced his lyrical style as he began to mature as an artist. His mentors’ family later moved to England and Phillip was able to make several visits. They recorded in various studios around London but the recordings were never released.

Throughout these adolescent years, Phillip mourned the deaths of many family members, but most recently his father, who died in a tragic accident. Phillip also struggled with varying degrees of depression and substance abuse for which he was treated. During the summers, he managed to save enough money to travel throughout the United States, Central America and Europe on several different occasions. 

After graduating from high school, Phillip spent many months in limbo. Unsure of his next move, he grew progressively more miserable and suffered from severe writers block. When spring of 2008 finally arrived, Phillip began playing solo gigs around Washington. He also coached young bands at a local music school in Bethesda Maryland but he grew anxious and despondent at his careers the lack of momentum. In September later that year, he enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston Massachusetts where he quickly partnered with fellow musicians to begin recording his original songs.

He is currently writing a collection of songs entitled Through the Wind and Rain dedicated to his father and longtime girlfriend due for release this spring. He is gathering his resources and preparing to tour this upcoming summer in Boston, New York City and Washington DC.

Phillip Noss