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W.Va. Native To Appear On America’s Got Talent Season Premiere

Two people stand on stage singing and playing an instrument.
Philip Bowen (left) performing on the Mountain Stage with host Kathy Mattea.
Chris Morris/Mountain Stage

Philip Bowen, a fiddle-playing social media star and Montgomery, West Virginia native, is set to appear on the Tuesday, May 30 episode of America’s Got Talent.

Bowen is one of the featured contestants auditioning for the talent contest. The show will kick off its 18th season.

He’s most known for his viral TikTok series called “Does It Fiddle?” where he improvises melodies over popular songs from different genres.

But he’s also making a name for himself as an Appalachian songwriter. He performed original songs at a Mountain Stage show last January. His song “Old Kanawha” was the program’s March 30 Song of the Week. His debut album, which is named after the song, is also set to release Aug. 18.

Bowen was also a recent subject of West Virginia Public Broadcasting podcast Us & Them. He spoke to host Trey Kay about growing up in Appalachia, and how his songwriting reflects realities of the Mountain State’s coal industry.

“I worked at Cracker Barrel one summer out of college, in Kanawha City. And these coal miners would come in for breakfast, like literally black head to toe,” Bowen said during a sit down interview with Kay about his song “Vampire in Appalachia.” “There’s nobody that’s gonna tell you breathing that stuff in for your whole career is gonna do your body any good. And so I just was getting really frustrated by all of that sacrifice to provide for a family.”

Bowen is not the first native West Virginian to receive attention through America’s Got Talent. Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., a jazz singer from Logan County, won the show’s sixth season. 

America’s Got Talent will air Tuesday, May 30 at 8 p.m. on NBC.