Sam Phillips, born Leslie Ann Phillips, is an American singer-songwriter. She began her career in the Contemporary Christian genre in the early 1980s, singing background vocals for Mark Heard and Randy Stonehill and subsequently was signed as a solo act, recording 4 Christian pop albums with Myrrh Records. The final album in the deal, The Turning, teamed her with producer, and future husband, T Bone Burnett. She had several Top 10 singles on Christian radio during this period and Myrrh was promoting her as “the Christian Cyndi Lauper.” Uncomfortable with this image and a bone of contention between Phillips and Myrrh, she left the label, began using the name “Sam” and signed with Virgin in 1988 to distance herself from her prior persona. She recorded four albums with Virgin, from 1988 to 1996. With the album The Indescribable Wow, Phillips moved into the mainstream. The album features the orchestrations of Van Dyke Parks. Cruel Intentions was released in 1991 and included a guest performance by Elvis Costello. 1994’s Martinis and Bikinis was widely praised by music critics and was nominated for a Grammy. ® In 1996, she released her final album with Virgin, Omnipop (It’s Only A Flesh Wound Lambchop), which featured a song co-written by R.E.M. Phillips made a cameo appearance in the 1997 Wim Wenders film The End Of Violence, singing part of the song Animals On Wheels from Omnipop.
In 2001, Sam signed with Nonesuch Records, focusing on a stripped-down, acoustic-based sound on her album Fan Dance, which features some of her most critically-acclaimed songwriting, as well as guest appearances from musical partners such as Gillian Welch on vocals. Around this time, Phillips also began writing music for and scoring the television series Gilmore Girls, and appeared in the final episode of season six, performing Taking Pictures from Fan Dance. Sam recorded two more albums for Nonesuch between 2004-2008 and three albums on Littlebox Recordings. She has received two Grammy ® Award nominations, one as Leslie Phillips and one as Sam Phillips, and has appeared as a guest artist on albums by Bruce Cockburn, The Wallflowers, Rodney Crowell and many others.