Phil King used to drive his family crazy.
But not in the way that many teens raised the ire of their parents in California’s central valley. Instead of making mischief, Phil was making music.
“I would wake my parents up in the middle of the night because I’d be playing piano at 2 in the morning,” Phil remembers with a laugh. “They’d get so mad at me. But I couldn’t get enough of melodies and songwriting.”
While Phil’s parents didn’t love when the musical muse would grip their child in the middle of the night, they didn’t squelch his talents. They supported him. Phil wrote his first song at age 9 and started leading worship at his church at 16. By 21, producers in Nashville started calling.
Today, instead of driving people crazy, Phil’s music drives them into the presence of God.
“I feel this burden to always keep pointing people to Jesus,” Phil says.
And that’s exactly what he does on his new album, All Glory. Each of the 11 songs is uniquely singable with messages that will resonate and be remembered by congregations around the world.
When Phil thinks back to the phone calls that started his professional music journey, he admits they weren’t a normal occurrence for a worship leader of a small church in Turlock. He definitely sees God’s guiding hand. But his mom was also a moving force. While Phil wrote songs and led worship, his mother, Stephanie, was working behind the scenes. She’d sung in Nashville during the early 1990s. Recognizing her son’s abilities, she sent some of Phil’s songs to people she knew in the Christian music industry. They liked what they heard.
They called and told Phil, “You need to come out to Nashville. You’re a songwriter.”
The offer came as a bit of a shock, but the young musician knew exactly what to say. “Okay,” he replied.
For much of the last decade, Phil honed his craft, working with Jennie Lee Riddle (“Revelation Song”), Leeland, Lauren Daigle, Michael W. Smith and many other influential singers and songwriters.
Phil sang on a couple of Michael W. Smith’s albums when he was younger and traveled with Michael as a vocalist. And it was Michael who became a champion for Phil’s pro-life anthem “Not Forgotten” that he wrote last January in response to a New York law that permitted late-term abortions.
Phil had just completed 21 days of prayer and fasting, which included no media. He was at the multi-campus, 40,000-member Gateway Church, where he serves as a worship leader in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, when he learned about the controversial law. Immediately, he began thinking about all the friends he didn’t have because their lives were cut short by an abortion.
“Millions and millions of people aren’t here that should be,” Phil says. “In a break between meetings, I went into a room with a piano and the song poured out of my heart in a few minutes.”
Rita Springer and Cody Ray Lee, fellow songwriters serving at Gateway and UPPERROOM respectively, helped him shape the song. In about 30 minutes—and after lots of tears—“Not Forgotten” was complete.
Within a few days of the song being uploaded to the internet, FOX News, CBN and others started calling. Michael W. Smith’s manager even called and connected Phil with Focus on the Family. In May, Phil performed “Not Forgotten” in front of 20,000 people in Times Square at Focus’ “Alive from New York”—the largest pro-life event ever held in New York City.
“Most songs don’t come about like that,” Phil says. “But I was having an awakening and it became a shared experience as people listened to the song.”
A Banner Day
The song also woke up a lot of people to Phil’s talent and heart for ministry. Phil has led worship at conferences around the world, written a book on worship and released an indie album, Giants & Oceans, in 2014. But he’s never sought the spotlight. He’s never had a booking agent. He’s also never lacked worship leading opportunities through word-of-mouth recommendations.
But when “Not Forgotten” blew up, Phil found himself flying all over the country, constantly busy and not having the time to connect with God.
“I was doing a lot of really good things,” Phil says, “but I was hungry for Jesus and really missing Him.”
During a brief break in his travel schedule, Phil carved out some time to sit on his back porch and read the Bible. His guitar was close at hand. As he read through Song of Solomon chapter 2, some words jumped off the page: His banner over me is love.
“I just started crying and singing that chorus,” Phil says. “Reading the Bible, I just felt Him pulling me close.”
Phil took the melody and chorus to Oscar Gamboa and Cody Ray Lee. The trio quickly worked out the verses and “Banner,” a powerful song of victory, was created.
Like “Banner,” every song on All Glory has a story behind it. Even the recording of the album was remarkable. Once Gateway Music signed Phil, he started planning and writing new songs for the worship album.
Matt Fish (Jeremy Riddle, Jason Upton, Leeland) was brought in to produce. Immediately, he knew this album needed to be recorded at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. Since the early 1970s, the iconic venue has been the site of more than 40 live albums.
For Phil, it was like going home. He’d been a worship leader there and written and recorded a lot of music in those halls.
“It’s an electric environment to record a live album,” Phil says. “And we didn’t re-record any songs at the end of the night. The flow of the album is very raw, very real and as it happened.”
The authenticity of the songs is unmistakable, and so is the craftsmanship. Phil is a stickler for melody. He writes nearly all of his songs with the melody coming first. If a melody doesn’t capture him in the first 30 seconds, he knows nobody will listen to it.
Lyrically, Phil sets an equally high bar for himself.
“I love writing worship songs that sound like what we read in Revelation 4 and 5,” he says.
Songs like “Greater Realms of Glory” (co-written with Michael Farren), “Our Great God” and “All Glory” certainly fit that description, as does the simple chorus “So Worthy,” which was recorded for the album without rehearsals.
Every other song on the album had a demo created for the band and singers to practice beforehand. “So Worthy” was different. It was played live for the first time during the night of the recording—and the worship is palpable.
While “So Worthy” was introduced at the live recording, the song “Deliverance” (co-written with Ethan Hulse and David Moore) proved to be a familiar audience favorite. The song originally appeared on the Gateway live album Greater Than in 2018. Phil brought it back for this project because of its theme of God’s delivering power and goodness.
Listening to All Glory, Phil’s heart as a worshiper blazes. But he doesn’t want to be lifted up. His desire is to be joined by as many people as possible with their hearts open to God.
“With everything happening in the world concerning the COVID-19 virus, we have an incredible opportunity to spend time in God’s presence and shine with the hope of Jesus like never before,” shares Phil. “And you know, the Father is not looking for worshippers who worship in a certain building on Sunday mornings - He’s looking for those that worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, and that can happen anywhere, especially in your home. My prayer is that these songs help point you to Jesus in the midst of our current crisis and bring the peace, hope and joy that only God's presence can bring.”