Newberry College’s Brayden Phillips to compete on ‘American Idol’March 28, 2023
Newberry College junior Brayden Phillips is one of eight South Carolinians headed to Hollywood to compete on “American Idol.” Hollywood Week starts Sunday night, April 2, on ABC.
The exercise science major and quarterback from Lancaster, South Carolina, is a country singer-songwriter with a single under his belt and over 1.7 million views on TikTok. He took his talents to ‘Idol’ auditions and made it past the initial round to Hollywood.
When he’s not studying or helping the Wolves take back-to-back conference championships, Phillips is performing with his group, the Red Rose Band, and spending time with family.
Alongside football, Phillips said his love of music began in church when he was a child.
“My first interest in music was growing up and going to different churches with my Dad,” said Phillips. “He used to travel around and sing at churches, and just growing up around it was awesome. I’ve been singing since I was like five years old, so it’s something that I’ve always had fun with.”
In September Phillips released his first single, “Old Young Man,” inspired by his father and his Midlands upbringing.
“My inspiration for music is 100% my Dad,” he said. “He’s helped me become not only the singer that I am, but the man I’m becoming. It’s not easy to talk about, but he’s been in the hospital since the beginning of this year, so it’s been a really long year so far for him and my family.
“[The song] talks about how I was raised and a lot of stuff my Dad has taught me over the years, so it was really a blessing for a song like that to be my first song I released,” he added. “I’m just going to keep letting music take me where it takes me, along with balancing it with football.”
Phillips also has a promising career ahead as a college quarterback. The 6’1” two-time All-Region selection from Buford High made his first start for the Wolves Oct. 8 at home against Barton. He accounted for 127 yards with seven completions, with his receivers finding the end zone twice. He started again the following week, throwing for 228 yards on nine receptions in Newberry’s 34-27 victory at Catawba.
“Brayden got thrown into the fire last year, because our all-conference quarterback got hurt against Carson-Newman and then our second-team quarterback got hurt four plays later,” said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Todd Varn. “He came in, and in the following two weeks was able to win us two important ball games to help us win the conference. And for him to be able to do that with no reps was a big motivator for our football team to try to finish the way we did last year.
“He’s a good kid, he’s always on time, he’s motivated, in music, too. He’s going to be a contender for the quarterback position next year. His work ethic and the way he takes on his job is obviously the way he does with music. I’m excited to work with him this year, and hopefully, he’ll battle for the starting job,” said Varn.
New to this year’s Hollywood Week, contestants will have the opportunity to work with past ‘Idol’ finalists to hone their songs before going before judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. With their mentors, the contestants will choose an area where they could best benefit from coaching, including confidence, songwriting and stage presence.
In the history of the show, so far only one South Carolina native has claimed the title of Idol: Candice Glover, of Beaufort, in 2013.
“I’ve got a special place in my heart for this young man, because he’s from my hometown, and I like to see kids from my hometown make it,” said head football coach Todd Knight. “He’s a very talented young man on and off the field. I didn’t realize how talented he was off the field until the ‘American Idol’ stuff came around, and I wish him the best of luck.”
About Newberry College
Newberry College is a private, residential, co-educational institution with a diverse student population. Founded in 1856 by the Lutheran Church, Newberry College continues to be ranked among the South’s best colleges by U.S. News & World Report, consistently honored for value (No. 6), social mobility (No. 8) and overall best (No. 11). Offering baccalaureate degrees in 38 majors, one online graduate program, four online degree-completion programs and five dual-degree programs, the College’s foundation remains grounded in the liberal arts. In addition, the College offers 22 NCAA Division II sports, cheerleading, dance and esports. Newberry College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, and the National Association of Schools of Music. For more information, visit newberry.edu.