Phil Thompson shares his musical endeavors through annual charity album.
The holidays bring out jolly good feelings, and, for acclaimed pianist and vocalist Phil Thompson, it brings out his desire to give back with an annual charity album.
Thompson, a Woodbury native, fell in love with music at an early age. He started playing piano when he was just 4 years old. “My first piano teacher really instilled a love for music in me. She let me play the songs I wanted to play,” Thompson says. From there, he took his passion for music into middle school and high school, playing the piano at Woodbury High School, where he graduated in 2003.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in entrepreneurship, Thompson still knew he was bound to music, so he transitioned the passion into a full-time endeavor. He started playing at corporate events and locally for the Woodbury Community Foundation, Woodbury Lions Club, at the Woodbury Rotary Miracle Field and Connecting With Woodbury events. “I always want to stay in touch with the community I grew up in,” he says.
One thing led to the next, and Thompson began to play on larger stages, such as the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in New York City, and overseas in Macau, Shanghai, Beijing, Australia and New Zealand.
However, Thompson says his talent always rooted itself back in Minnesota, where he created his first charity album. Similar albums are released every year before the holiday season and feature some of Minnesota’s top names in music. “I’ve always been impressed with how much musical talent we have in the Twin Cities, but we did not have a good showcase for the local music scene at the time,” Thompson says. Fourteen years ago, he created the first album, A Minnesota Holiday; now, it’s a tradition to release a beloved album each year.
“I really wanted to have a charity component within every album. Musicians are always really great about giving back to causes, and I thought it was a great way to tie in local music together within a good cause,” Thompson says. This year, the funds received from the charity album will go to Second Harvest Heartland.
“One in 12 people face hunger in Minnesota; it’s really dire,” Thompson says. “We’ve worked with other charities over the years like Be The Match and Union Gospel Mission, but since these last few years with the pandemic and food cost, we thought it was important to continue to partner with Second Harvest Heartland.”
This year’s album, A Minnesota Holiday Vol. 14, was released on November 14, featuring a line-up of musicians, including Brian Setzer, Lorie Line, Kat Perkins, The Blenders, three-time Grammy Award winning Sounds of Blackness, Jennifer Grimm, Mick Sterling, Eagle Brook Music and Thompson. Listeners can find the album at Kowalski’s Markets, where copies include bonus gifts.
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