Bar pianist Phillip Sais at Willy D’s. Photo by Andrew Epperson
Phillip Sais, 21, was born in India before he was adopted by parents in Arkansas when he was 1 1/2 years old. Shortly after he began attending college, he and his parents got into an argument. The dispute resulted in agreement that seemed simple at the time: he’d pay for his own responsibilities, including rent, utilities, food, school and lifestyle. Essentially, he was off his parents’ payroll.
Playing piano to pay the rent
“It was scary going around on Dickson Street and asking for a job,” Sais said. Unaccustomed to the bar scene, the prospect of playing music around intoxicated patrons frightened him. “It was so scary, but I did it, and I absolutely love the job,” he said.
Sais soon began to struggle with managing his student loans. He needed to take out more loans to pay off old ones and soon the financial pressures forced him to drop out of college with less than a year remaining before he could earn his degree. Still, he’s paying off student loans and hopes to repair his finances so he can enroll in school again.
A mistake with student loans
Calling parents for help
In the future, Sais plans to enroll in school again to finish his bachelors degree in music performance, he said. If everything works out, he will continue working at Willy D’s while attending classes.