Phil Wiggins

Phil Wiggins is working on several projects at this time. He currently plays with several musicians such as George Kilby Jr, Corey Harris, and Rev John Wilkins in acoustic settings. He is comfortable in other types of ensembles as well.

Phil Wiggins was born in Washington, D.C. in 1954 and spent his childhood summers at his grandmother’s home in Alabama, where he listened to old-time hymns sung in church in the traditional call-and-response style. Phil was attracted to the blues harp as a young man and began his musical career with some of Washington’s leading blues artists, including Archie Edwards and John Jackson, and attributes his style to his years spent accompanying locally noted slide guitarist and gospel singer Flora Molton. 

Wiggins’ harmonica sound developed from listening to piano and horn players, as well as the music of Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson I, Little Walter, Big Walter Horton and Junior Wells. Phil also apprenticed with Mother Scott (a contemporary of Bessie Smith). Besides being a renowned harmonica player, Wiggins is also a gifted songwriter and singer whose material helped to define the Cephas and Wiggins sound. 

As a harmonica-guitar duo, Cephas & Wiggins were uniquely able to exemplify the synthesis of African and European elements which co-exist in the blues. Much of the melody and imagery is Western, of course. However, the call-and-response interplay between the harmonica and guitar, the complimentary rhythms, and the microtonal slurs generated by “stretched” guitar strings and “bent” harmonica notes are all quintessentially African.

“Phil is among a very small handful of virtuosos whose command of his instrument takes my breath away.  His talent rivals that of any artist I’ve encountered in my career in Classical music, in my view placing him in the company of the Yo-Yo Mas and the Joshua Bells of the world.”  Scott Freck, General Manager, North Carolina Symphony

Phil Wiggins is arguably the top harp player working in acoustic roots and blues music today.


Phil’s Hohner page

This slideshow requires JavaScript.