Phil Cunningham (folk musician)

Philip Martin Cunningham, MBE (born 1960 in Edinburgh, Scotland) is a Scottish folk musician and composer. He is best known for playing the accordion with Silly Wizard, as well as in other bands and in duets with his brother, Johnny. When they played together, Johnny and Phil would often horse around, as only brothers can, egging each other on to play faster and faster, and trying, light-heartedly, to trip each other up.[1] Phil has played with other great Celtic musicians, such as Aly Bain.

Phil Cunningham
Background information
OriginEdinburgh, Scotland
GenresFolk, Traditional Scottish, Celtic
Occupation(s)Musician, Composer, Producer, Presenter
InstrumentsAccordion, Violin, Piano, Guitar, Tin whistle, Harmonium, Synthesizer, Mandolin, Irish Bouzouki, Bass Guitar
Years active1976–present
Associated actsSilly Wizard, Aly Bain, Relativity, Eddi Reader, Bonnie Raitt


Cunningham played accordion and violin from a very young age. He attended school in Portobello, and was raised Mormon, attending church regularly and playing organ.[2] However, by age fifteen due to issues with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he left, and now describes himself as a spiritualist.[2]

At the age of 16, he joined his older brother Johnny in the group Silly Wizard, where he played accordion, tin whistle, harmonium, guitar, synthesizer, and he sang. He also wrote many of the group's songs. After the breakup of Silly Wizard, Phil and Johnny recorded two albums and toured with Irish siblings Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Triona Ni Domhnaill as the quartet Relativity. Phil has since had a successful solo career, releasing the albums Airs & Graces and The Palomino Waltz, and several collaborations with fellow Scottish folk musician Aly Bain. He has produced several albums with American singer Connie Dover. In recent years, Phil has also composed classical music and music for theater and television, with 1997 seeing the premiere of his Highlands and Islands Suite at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. In 2002, Phil was appointed MBE for services to Scottish music. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters at Glasgow Caledonian University's graduation ceremony on 27 November 2007.[3]


Solo albums

  • Airs & Graces (1984)
  • Palomino Waltz (1989)

Silly Wizard

  • Caledonia's Hardy Sons (1978)
  • So Many Partings (1980)
  • Wild and Beautiful (1981)
  • Kiss the Tears Away (1983)
  • A Glint of Silver (1986)
  • Live Wizardry (1988)


  • Relativity (1986)
  • Gathering Pace (1987)

With Johnny Cunningham

  • Against the Storm (1980)

With Aly Bain

  • The Pearl (1995)
  • The Ruby (1997)
  • Another Gem (2000)
  • Spring The Summer Long (2003)
  • Best of Aly and Phil (2004)
  • Roads Not Travelled (2006)
  • Portrait (2010)
  • Five and Twenty (2012)

With Connie Dover

  • Somebody (1991)
  • The Wishing Well (1994)
  • If Ever I Return (1997)
  • The Border of Heaven (2000)

With Kris Drever


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