28 CCM 28 CCM Iconic Phil Keaggy hits the holiday season off with an album that only a legend could create By Andy Argyrakis With over 50 albums to his name, seven Dove Awards for “Instrumental Album of the Year,” a Grammy nomination and endless kudos from Guitar Player Magazine, Phil Keaggy is nothing short of legendary. Though he’s ultra humble in his demeanor and downplays accolades, there’s not a single faith-based player in the acoustic, pop, rock and progressive circles that hasn’t been inspired by the furious finger picker, while mainstream music’s always embraced the player, if only for his jaw dropping precision and innovation. “Some people tell me that but I don’t feel like it, probably because I kept a pulse on the whole bigger picture,” asserts Keaggy with a shy laugh of the “legend” title from his Nashville studio. “I feel like I’m a productive, contributing musician to my community, church and in fellowship with other artists and I’m content with that.” Though he isn’t one to put any feathers in the cap, another endearing quality happens to be the remarkably prolific nature of his songwriting, which between vocal, instrumental and collaborative records, yields at least one project a year, if not two or sometimes even three. “I really do appreciate the ability to create music, and over the past twenty years, I’ve learned how to engineer,” he continues. “In the last ten years, I’ve also learned Pro Tools, which allows me to do it myself sometimes, with other people other times and sometimes by collaborating across the country over the internet.” With the holidays around the corner, it’s only fitting to find Keaggy ramping up for the national debut of Welcome Inn (Kingsway), featuring a dozen Yuletide tracks that mostly find the switch hitter adding vocals to his signature guitar playing. Fervent fans may have caught the project scoring a soft release last year directly on Keaggy’s website, though it was finished a little too late in the season to land at traditional retail. Nonetheless, the delay was more than worth the wait as it marks the singer/guitarist’s first major channel of distribution since his days at Word, while Wal-Mart’s already amongst those on board to stock it. “The way the story goes is I’ve had several friends, including the girl who does our merch, saying I needed a new Christmas album,” he recalls of the decision to pen Welcome Inn. “I had done one for Word years ago [1999’s Majesty and Wonder with the London Festival Orchestra], but unfortunately they quit manufacturing it and I can’t get a hold of it anymore. Last time was an instrumental album featuring classic songs, so we thought it might be fun to change it up.” Although the track listing contains a handful of familiar favorites, the majority of cuts are original compositions. “The only two that are familiar are ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,’ which I did with two of my three children, Olivia and Ian, and ‘In the Bleak Mid-Winter,’ which is an instrumental acoustic solo,” Keaggy explains. “The rest of the album is original vocal songs, plus the instrumental piece ‘Shades of Green and Red,’ which ties together a Tis the Season