Guitarist and songwriter Phil Keaggy may be one of music's best-kept secrets, but he's also the person who seems least worried about it. Acknowledged by those who've heard him as one of the finest guitarists in America (a position endorsed by a major article in Guitar Player magazine), Keaggy labors in the relative obscurity of the Contemporary Christian Music field with a combination of gratitude and regret. "I regret that I haven't been able to bring the Good News to as many people through my music, but the appreciative audiences I've had in the last nine years have helped to nurture and encourage me to grow," he says.
Keaggy, who will bring his band to Christ Church on Thursday night, has been playing professionally for 18 years, though he's only 30. In the late '60s, he recorded three albums with a group called Glass Harp at Electric Ladyland; in 1970, when he was an 18-year-old rock veteran, his mother was involved in a car crash that claimed her life within a week. That prompted Keaggy to a born-again experience. "My eyes and heart were opened, and I began to understand a little bit better. I went to church and accepted the Lord, stopped to eat at McDonald's and went home and put on Blind Faith's 'In the Presence of the Lord.' There was something I wanted to hear in that song."
The soft-spoken Keaggy has recorded several superb albums, including the all-instrumental "Master and the Musician." He sings and composes in a manner reminiscent of Paul McCartney and Kenny Rankin, but the center of his music is Christian faith. "Many professional people are becoming Christians and feel led to continue in their profession. Some are more faithful in their calling to the Lord and some are driving for a career. I refrain from calling it my 'career.' I would rather say, by God's grace, my ministry. My music is completely sold-out to the Lord."