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Second Cup Caf Second Cup Café: Phil Vassar

Country artist Phil Vassar holds up the award he won for top new male vocalist at the 37th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards Wednesday, May 22, 2002, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Phil Vassar is a relative newcomer to country music, having just hit the charts two years ago.

Now, fans are enjoying the soulful singer's sophomore album "American Child" — a CD that offers an upbeat reflection on life as an American after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Vassar joins the The Saturday Early Show's Second Cup Café to perform the single "American Child" from his top-five Country album.

Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, Vassar was a quarterback in high school and also ran track, which eventually led to an athletic scholarship to James Madison University. Vassar credits sports for teaching him the discipline and focus he later needed to become successful in music.

Vassar moved to Nashville in 1987 to pursue his singing career. Once in Music City, Vassar focused on songwriting and developing as a piano player while performing in local venues. In 1995, Vassar bought his own restaurant and club to try out his new songs and develop his style as an entertainer.

Vassar was an acclaimed songwriter for Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Jo Dee Messina and others before recording his first self-titled album.

Vassar, who was named Top New Male Vocalist at the 2002 Academy of Country Music Awards, often integrates pop into the country he sings. His music, he says, is influenced by his musical idols Steve Wariner, Billy Joel, James Taylor, and Elton John.

A few of Vassar's many awards include R&R - Best New Artist, 2001; ASCAP Artist Songwriter of the Year, 2001; Music Row Magazine - 1999 Breakthrough Writer of the Year; and Billboard - 1998 Songwriter of the Year.