Life after ‘American Idol’: Phillip Phillips interview, Jennifer Hudson, LaToya London

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - MAY 12: Phillip Phillips performs onstage during the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 - Closing Ceremony at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on May 12, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Invictus Games)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – MAY 12: Phillip Phillips performs onstage during the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 – Closing Ceremony at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on May 12, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Invictus Games)

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Thursday, July 21, 2016

Georgia’s only “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips isn’t much of a gabber. That was obvious on the show. And that hasn’t changed even after he has become inured to the spotlight.

He isn’t able to tell big, colorful anecdotes on demand. He doesn’t banter much on stage.

Meet and greets “definitely are not my thing. It’s nerve-racking,” Phillips said in an interview earlier this week. “I’m just an awkward person. I’m not a good talker. I’m not that smooth.”

Rather, he speaks his heart through his music. And that’s what his fans come for. You’ll get 75 minutes of Phillips – plus another 75 minutes from co-headliner Matt Nathanson – at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens July 30. General admission tickets are sold out. Stubhub as I write this has just a single ticket available for $115. Cheaptickets.com has six available from $116 to $463 each. Platinum tickets are available here for botanical garden members.

“When I’m playing music, I’m good,” he said.

While performing at the gardens is a bit unusual, he has found the oddest place to go was a zoo in Portland, Ore. earlier this month where he was eyed by cheetahs while he sang. The cheetahs, he said, “were looking dead at me. They were hungry!”

Cheetahs at the Oregon Zoo. CREDIT: Oregon Zoo

Cheetahs at the Oregon Zoo. CREDIT: Oregon Zoo

His low-key persona translates into something we’ve talked about before: his incredible ability to sleep at will anywhere anytime. Crew members nickname him “sleepy.” “That’s one of my favorite things to do,” he said, noting he gets eight hours a night no matter where he is, road or home.

When Nathanson offered to co-headline this summer with Phillips, he instantly said yes. And on tour, they will occasionally join each other to duet a cover song, maybe a Peter Gabriel or Prince song.

And while he changes up his set every night, here’s what he did recently to give you a sense of what you might see when you go next Friday:

“I always change something for my sake, the band’s sake, the fan’s sake. Fans like it. We have people who go three or four shows in a row. I like to keep it different,” he said. “I appreciate their loyalty.”

Phillips said he feels over the years he’s gotten tighter on stage with his band, that he keeps learning about himself musically. Even songs like “Home” that he will be playing for the rest of his life, “I always try to do something different with it. Make it interesting.”

Phillips is embroiled in a lawsuit against 19 Entertainment in an effort to get out of his management company, accusing them of being “manipulated” into doing events and shows he didn’t want to do. 19 Entertainment has since counter-sued for breaching various agreements. He didn’t have much to say about it, just hoping it will resolve itself eventually. “It’s kind of where it is,” he said politely. “We’ll see.”

It didn’t stop him from going to the “Idol” series finale in April. He has said he has nothing against the show itself. “It was a nice little reunion,” he said. “I saw some of the security guards and people were that were contestants my season, the producers who came to my hometown visit.” He spent quality time with Michael Orland, a key vocal coach. “He’s hilarious,” he said.

And unlike his time on the show when he suffered from painful kidney stones, he’s in good health. He admits, though, he doesn’t always follow the diet to keep stones at bay. His go-to guilty pleasure is chocolate. “I can’t resist a good home-made chocolate chip cookie,” he said.

Once the tour is up, he will finish up his third album, name still forthcoming. He’s already playing a couple in concert, including “Magnetic.” “Great response so far,” he said.

With three radio hits under his belt, he’s hoping for more, aware that even in 2016, radio airplay still matters. “You want to gain more fans,” he said. “So you want to have music on the radio. But you don’t want to sound like everybody else. For me, it’s got to be real musically, lyrically and emotionally. I feel like there are some really great songs for this new album.”

CONCERT PREVIEW

Phillip Phillips and Matt Nathanson

7 p.m. Saturday, July 30

$69.50 (sold out)

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

1345 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta

Tickets here

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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 09: Jennifer Hudson attends Songwriters Hall Of Fame 47th Annual Induction And Awards at Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame)

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 09: Jennifer Hudson attends Songwriters Hall Of Fame 47th Annual Induction And Awards at Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 9, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame)

Jennifer Hudson is starring opposite Adam Sandler in Sandler’s third Netflix original film “Sandy Wexler.”

Clearly, this is going to be an interesting romantic coupling in a film.

According to the press release:

The film follows Sandy Wexler (Adam Sandler), a talent manager working in Los Angeles in the 1990s, who diligently represents a group of eccentric clients on the fringes of show business.  His single-minded devotion is put to the test when he falls in love with his newest client, Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson), a tremendously talented singer who he discovers at an amusement park.

Season three finalist Hudson, as we all know, is an Oscar winner from her role in “Dreamgirls.” She has also appeared in “Sex and the City,” “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Winnie.”


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