West Virginia native shares talent on national stage

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 11:41 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, W.Va (WSAZ/WDTV) - A musician with roots in Appalachia is sharing his talent on the national stage.

Philip Bowen has been playing the fiddle all his life and now he’s sharing his love of old-time music on America’s Got Talent.

The Montgomery native wears a WV on his hat with pride. It’s one of the many hats he wears every day.

“I’m a singer and a songwriter, I’ve been playing the fiddle my whole life. I do the artist thing, I do the fiddle thing.”

A fiddle player, a husband, a father of three - those are the foundations of Bowen’s life. His music is the soundtrack of it.

“I’ve been playing the fiddle since I was like four,” said Bowen. “I used to go to Vandalia gathering every year, and my dad would walk me up to musicians and I would just start playing with everybody.”

It’s always been Bowen’s dream to make a career out of his music. In 2019, he chose the right time to go for it.

“COVID happened and the whole world shut down, so I started to do it online because I wanted to do it for real and it just changed my whole life,” said Bowen.

Bowen went on TikTok and played covers of songs that you normally wouldn’t hear the fiddle along with some original music.

“Got a few followers on there, we hit like a million the other day, so that’s very surreal,” said Bowen.

His efforts on TikTok are paying off because his next adventure is much bigger.

Bowen is taking his skills to America’s Got Talent.

“I went for it this year, and I got invited to go out to Pasadena, California to film it,” said Bowen. “I was out there for a week doing filming, and the audition, which is what you’ll see on TV, the audition in front of the judges.”

Bowen said it was a unique and incredible experience.

“I wanted to do something maybe a little bit unexpected, so when you see this 100-year-old wooden fiddle and somebody coming up from West Virginia, you may have a certain expectation about what you’re about to experience. My goal with the audition was to show them something they hadn’t seen before in a way they hadn’t seen before.”

A new perspective on music because Bowen hears and senses music differently than most people do. It’s what experts have told him is called synesthesia.

“The reason I close my eyes so much is because I experience it very visually, almost like colors. If you’re trying to recreate a painting layer by layer, like there’s some red, there’s some colorful things at the top that are like the melody, those are maybe bright things to me. I try to have a conversation with the song.”

You can see the soul in the way he plays, and his soul, he says, belongs in Appalachia.

“West Virginia is still a big part of my life, I’m here all the time, most of my family is still here. To me, it’s a special place that can often be misunderstood.”

Bowen has played big stages far and wide, but you know what they say about country roads.

“Sometimes the further you get from home the more you realize what you had when you were there,” said Bowen. “At whatever scale it happens for me, I enjoy I can be proud of where I’m from.”

Bowen’s first album, called “Old Kanawha” after the Kanawha River, debuts later this summer.

Bowen’s audition on America’s Got Talent aired Tuesday evening, and he advanced to the next round on the show.

Last Friday, Bowen appeared on First at 4 as a First at 4 Forum. Click here or watch the video above to see the interview.

A man from Montgomery, West Virginia, will take the stage of 'America's Got Talent'.