Phil Keaggy and his band, Glass Harp continues to sell out concerts all over the United States and will return to Kent to perform a sold-out show at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Kent Stage, 175 E. Main St.
Keaggy received his first guitar as a gift from his mother and father on his 10th birthday.
"It was a Sears Silvertone guitar," Keaggy said. "I struggled with that guitar for a while and then my older brother Dave taught me how to tune it. As he saw me progress on it as a youngster in the 5th grade, he got me an electric guitar for Christmas. It was a one pickup electric guitar."
From there, Keaggy started learning and loving the guitar, listening to records and meeting other young players.
"I was in my first band at 14," Keaggy said. "I grew up in Youngstown, my family had moved to California and when we moved back to Ohio, I joined a band called The Squires. I was really young, in 8th grade. I was in a few other bands and then I started Glass Harp with John Sferra (drums) and Dan Pecchio (bass)."
Sferra and Keaggy went to the same school and met in eighth grade. They began to seriously form their own band going into the 11th grade.
"We used to play a lot of gigs at JBs in Kent and with James Gang and Joe Walsh," Keaggy said. "We were part of that whole time with the Raspberries, James Gang and the Michael Stanley band. We got a contract with Decca records in 1970 and went to record a studio album in New York City. We did a second album, a live album and a third album."
Then while touring with Glass Harp in February of 1970, Keaggy received tragic news. Keaggy's father and mother were in a head on car collision, and his mother passed away a week later from internal injuries.
"Back in those days, we had no cell phones, so news of that terrible tragedy didn't get to me the next day," Keaggy said. "It made the rest of my family so deeply saddened. She was only 59 at the time. She was a wonderful woman and always prayed for me that God would bless my music and I would have a purpose and mission in my life."
During that time, Keaggy's older sister, who was an actress in Hollywood, shared her faith with him.
"She came to know Jesus in a more personal way and she shared her faith with me," Keaggy said. "I took a leap of faith and asked him to come into my life and surrendered my life and my world and my music to him."
In '72, Keaggy left Glass Harp to pursue a solo career. He started writing songs about his faith for his first solo album titled "What A Day."
"I wanted to go into more acoustic music at the time," Keaggy said. "I mellowed out and I was singing a lot about my faith in that time."
Nine years later, in '81, the guys from Glass Harp showed up at one of Keaggy's local gigs in Cleveland.
Keaggy's solo career has spanned more than 30 years and has included more than 50 albums, both vocal and instrumental, and eight releases with Glass Harp.
"I've been on Christian labels, but I'm more known as an Indie artist," Keaggy said. "I've had times in my life where I was with a record label that had all the machinery and marketing, but for the last 11 years, I've been back to being an Indie artist. I'm still working, playing concerts and doing music sessions and a lot of stuff with John."
Keaggy said his primary goal in music is to help make this world a little better of a place and to share his faith.
"A lot of people don't agree with that because they don't believe in God, but you have to admit that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and I like to help people become conscious of the fact they have been designed in such a wonderful way and life is a miracle itself," Keaggy said. "It's hard, we live, we die, we lose people we love, but we move on. My main message to people is that God has planned an amazing eternity for us all. I'm under the persuasion that with God nothing is impossible and that I really have faith and he did not create us to desert us or abandon us to our failings and our falls and our sins."
Tom Simpson, co-owner of the Kent Stage, said anytime Keaggy and Glass Harp play the Kent Stage it is a sold-out show. He has wanted to have Glass Harp back since its last performance in December 2010.
"We discussed it last time they were here that we were going to have them back," Simpson said. "They don't live around here, so we needed to pick a time where they were all together and we put this date together. They are always welcome here. They are a musical legend in northeast Ohio and it's a perfect place for them to play."
The show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Kent Stage. Tickets range from $35 to $50.
For more information, call 330-677-5005 or visit www.thekentstage.com.