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Martin Phillips is an American with deep roots in South Africa. He was born in Cape Town, and grew up in Kenilworth. His father, Walter Phillips, pioneered heart surgery in South Africa, and was head of Cardio-Thoracic surgery at Groote Schuur through the early 60s. His grandfather, Max Sonnenberg, founded Woolworths in South Africa. His family immigrated to the United States in the mid-60s.
Martin took classical piano lessons as a child, but his love was always jazz. What started as an obsession with the beat of township music expanded to American artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Dave Brubeck.
He attended Brandeis University in Massachusetts and Columbia University in New York. He holds an MS in Journalism, and a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University. After graduate school, he became a television news producer for the CBS television newsmagazine “60 Minutes,” and later a news producer and news manager for the ABC news broadcast “20/20.”
He has returned to South Africa several times with his American family, lured back by the country’s people, beauty and music. In January 2010, he taught broadcast journalism for several months at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. He is currently teaching journalism at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.
He created “Evening Jazz” in 2010 in New York, a radio show featuring American, Latin and African jazz performers. It is a show designed to introduce the three cultures to each other’s best jazz performers and composers.