Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Phil Stacey Finds Country Is a Nice Fit; Former Idol Contender from Jacksonville to Sing Tonight in Clay County

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Phil Stacey Finds Country Is a Nice Fit; Former Idol Contender from Jacksonville to Sing Tonight in Clay County

Article excerpt

Byline: ROGER BULL

The last time Northeast Florida saw Phil Stacey, he was onstage at the arena singing with the other American Idol finalists.

Idol has moved on, bringing in another group to stand before the nation and the judges each week. Stacey has moved on, too. He's out of the Navy, out of Jacksonville and pursuing his country music career in Nashville. That's what has him coming him back to sing at the Clay County Agricultural Fair tonight.

Millions watched him each week on Idol last year with Jordin Sparks, Blake Lewis, Sanjaya Malakar and the rest. He was the sailor, the family man whose second daughter was born hours before one of his auditions.

He lasted 16 weeks before a lack of votes sent him home, back to Jacksonville, where he'd lived for almost four years.

Then it was off to the 56-city tour with the other finalists. Just a couple of weeks after that ended last September, the real changes began.

"I went straight from getting my papers saying I was out of the Navy," Stacey said last week, "walked across the parking lot, got in a U-Haul van and moved my family to Nashville."

Though he's lived in a lot of places, that's as close to home as any place. His parents and brother are in the area, and friends from college are in the music business there.

Stacey signed a contract with Lyric Street Records, Disney's country label, almost as soon as he got off the Idol tour. It's a standard contract, one album with the possibility of more.

"If I bomb on the first one," he said, "I'm on my own, brother."

His first single, If You Didn't Love Me, came out in January and climbed into the Top 40 on the country charts. The self-titled album comes out Tuesday, April 29.

Stacey described it as solid country, with a few bluegrass, rock and contemporary Christian touches.

"We pretty much saw eye to eye on it," Stacey said. "There were a couple of things that I thought were questionable that the label wanted me to do. A little more edgy than I was comfortable with. …

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