updated 06/18/2012 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 06/18/2012 AT 12:05 PM ET
“It was tough, you know, those first few days, but I’m getting to where I can pick the guitar back up and write a little bit.”
The Leesburg, Ga., native, who beat out runner-up Jessica Sanchez in last month’s emotional finale, will make his return to the stage at this summer’s July 4th celebration at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. – his first trip to the capital.
From there, Phillips, who underwent eight operations during his Idol Run, is due to open the American Idols Live! tour in Detroit. The 45-show tour runs through October.