Originally Published: January 24, 2014 6 a.m.
Former Prescott High School student and Three of a Kind band member Phillip "Phoenix" Mendoza is taking the country music scene by storm.
Mendoza can be heard singing "Waitin on You" for the soundtrack of the movie "Ambush at Dark Canyon." Mendoza teamed up with country singer/songwriter Chris Gantry to pen the tune. Gantry wrote "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife" for Glen Campbell.
"We wrote it in about 10 minutes, did a quick recording of it and just sent it over," Mendoza said. "We didn't hear anything about it for a couple of months. Then one morning my phone rang and it was Kix Brooks from Brooks and Dunn. He said they wanted to use that song for the movie."
On Jan. 14, the soundtrack was released in 3,800 Wal-Mart stores across the nation.
"I tell you what, going to Wal-Mart and buying something that my name was on was pretty, pretty incredible," Mendoza said.
In addition to being featured on the "Ambush at Dark Canyon" soundtrack, Mendoza co-wrote the song "Swagger" for Sony Nashville recording artist Angie Johnson's album.
Most recently, Mendoza finished recording his new album, "Coming Up on Sunset," that is scheduled to be released later this year.
Mendoza has also dipped his toe into the acting world with appearances on A&E's "Crazy Hearts: Nashville."
The show, centered in Nashville, follows the lives of several up-and-coming musicians trying to make their mark in the music industry, fall in love and live to sing about it. Mendoza plays the drinking buddy of one of the characters. Mendoza also co-wrote a song that is featured in the show's finale.
"In between that, the movie and the single for Angie Johnson, I'm feeling like all things are firing," Mendoza said.
Mendoza's family moved from Pasadena, Calif. to Prescott when he was just six months old. Mendoza attended Christian Academy, Granite Mountain Middle School, and Prescott High School, where he graduated in 2000.
Mendoza's introduction to music began with the trumpet, choir and stage theater. He later taught himself to play the guitar.
"In all honesty, I wanted to play guitar to get girls. I'm not going to lie," Mendoza said, laughing.
Music has always been a family affair for the Mendoza clan. Growing up, Mendoza and his brother Adrian Mendoza always sang harmonies while his other brother Chris Mendoza played the piano, he said.
With encouragement from family and friends, the trio formed the Prescott-based country group Three of a Kind.
"We did all the Prescott stuff - Frontier Days, Matt's Saloon - and had a real good time," Mendoza said. "I was 17 or 18 years old and we were playing bars."
At 21 years old, Mendoza decided to take on the country music scene and moved to Nashville, where he currently resides. It was in Nashville that Mendoza was tagged with the nickname "Phoenix".
"Everyone knew I was from Arizona, so they just started calling me 'Phoenix' even though my name is Phillip," he said, chuckling. "It just kind of stuck. I've been called worse."
Chris Mendoza has continued to play the piano, touring the world with musicians such as Everlast, Heidi Newfield, and Chris Kegel, Mendoza said.
Adrian Mendoza has established a successful acting career in Hollywood. He has appeared in the television shows "Grey's Anatomy" and "Glee" as well as the movie "Water for Elephants." Adrian has also continued to sing and record music, Mendoza said.
Mendoza said he has kicked around the idea of playing a reunion concert with his brothers, but their busy schedules make it difficult to pin down an exact date.
For more information on Phillip "Phoenix" Mendoza's upcoming album or tour dates, visit www.facebook.com/Myster.mendoza or follow him on Twitter @phoenixmendoza
Follow Tamara Sone on Twitter @PDCtsone