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FAMU grad Phillip Stewart says music saved his life

By Bria Wesley | Staff Reporter
On March 14, 2019

Phillip Stewart promotes 'Good Vibes' in his music and day-to-day life.
Bria Wesley | The Famuan

Phillip Stewart was a lot more mature than his peers in Miami. At the tender age of 11, he thought he knew the key to a woman’s heart without saying a word, and that was through the notes he blew.

Whether if the ladies came or not, it all started with picking up a saxophone. Years later, the 36-year-old hasn’t put it down. He didn’t know that the band room, along with the football field would be his saving grace.

Growing up in a fast-paced, violent and drug ridden climate in Miami, Fl, Phillip found himself staying afloat through the gracious sounds of the sax and the intensity as a running back on the turf.

His talents on the field led to local fame and high expectations. He, and many friends and family thought he would be facing the field but was bitten by the band-bug freshman year in high school to later become drum major.  From then, his life changed. He was led to the campus of Florida A&M University.

Stuck in the midst of two worlds, Stewart gradually put the ball down and lifted the horn after a tough decision in high school.

“I received three full-ride scholarship offers to play the oboe at Florida A&M University, Bethune Cookman University, and University of Miami.”

Stewart wasn’t selfish with his drive and talents with just one instrument. He wiggled his fingers on trumpet, oboe, piano, and violin.

Through his Jamaican roots, music was always prevalent.

“I had value to me because of the oboe. I practiced all the time that was my structure and discipline.”

Stewart felt like he had a point to prove. “My brother was better than me but didn’t have the drive and grit as I did.” I wanted to show him I could do it.

“Involving myself in sports and music provided structure and discipline, and creativity.  “Some people would say

I am a dreamer,” said Stewart. “It goes along with seeing thing s people naturally want to see because I can lose myself within the music.

“The discipline taught me to set a goal and work towards it, “No matter how talented you are, you still have to cultivate and work at it, and stems from discipline.”

Stewart finds himself on stage at a popular show, Tallahassee Nights Live.

Tammy Lewis, TNL regular, says it’s always a treat to hear him perform.

“I come to shows like these as a gateway,” said Lewis. “It is people like Phillip who I listen to often, that solidifies real music still exists.”

“It kept me out of trouble.” I ran away from home a lot. My band director would catch me in the street and would give me the key to the band room, said Stewart.” This allowed me

I was frustrated at home a lot of stuff.

“Music was always an outlet and the saxophone saved my life.”

Phillip’s scholarship obligation to the oboe made him regretful of the minor neglect to the saxophone.

The circle-of-life philosophy when he found himself facing a football field, again; this time, at a leadership position as head coach.

Phillip’s love for children impacted his decision to coach.

“Coaching is joy for many reason,” said Stewart. You get a chance to witness how children develop physically and the joy of seeing a kid achieve goals that you are trying to teach them.”

“I believe one trait I’ve picked up on is the ability to inspire,” said Stewart. “In all my coaching assignments, the kids seem to gravitate towards me.”

Steward wasn’t a stranger to success. He achieved back-to-back championships in basketball and two perfect seasons as head honcho in football.

Phillip tries to transfer that intensity, drive and discipline into the kids as a coach.

He believes his success came from having a high and positive spirit and hopes that’ll be a part of the legacy he leaves.

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