Tommy Emmanuel, guitar
Other musicians, TBA
Two-time Grammy nominee Tommy Emmanuel is one of Australia's most respected musicians. The legendary guitarist boasts a professional career that spans five decades and continues to intersect with some of the finest musicians throughout the world. A household name in his native Australia, Emmanuel has garnered hundreds of thousands of loyal fans worldwide.
Emmanuel's unique style, which he simply calls "finger style," is akin to playing the guitar the way a pianist plays a piano, using all 10 fingers. Rather than using a whole band for melody, rhythm, bass, and drum parts, Emmanuel plays all that - and more - on one guitar. Guitar legend Chet Atkins was one of the first to inspire Emmanuel to try this "fingerpicker" style as a child. Decades later, Atkins himself became one of Emmanuel's biggest fans.
Emmanuel's unusual talent and life are common lore in Australia. Born into a musical family, Tommy and his older brother Phil were considered child prodigies. Tommy got his first guitar at age four, was playing in family band by age six, and by 10 had played his way across Australia. Leaving school and home in his early teens, he embraced big city life in Sydney and spend the late '70s and early '80s playing club dates and working as a session musician with artists like Air Supply and Men at Work.
After a stint with Dragon, one of the biggest Australian rock bands of the '80s, Emmanuel launched his solo instrumental career with the release of Up from Down Under in 1987. His career continued to bloom throughout the '90s, and toward the end of the decade his popularity began to spill over into Asia, Europe, and eventually the U.S., where his 1997 album Midnight Drive remained in the Top 5 on the NAC radio charts for 16 straight weeks.
In 1999, Atkins honored Emmanuel with the title of "Certified Guitar Player" for his contribution to finger style guitar. It was a crowning moment for Emmanuel, and the title is now virtually synonymous with the guitarist himself, the letters "CGP" often appearing in association with his name.
Since the turn of the millennium, Emmanuel's popularity has continued to grow by leaps and bounds in the U.S. and beyond. In all, his catalog includes over 20 musical recordings, spanning the gamut of solos, duets, ensembles, cover tunes, originals, and both electric and acoustic guitar. He has also made numerous live performance and instructional DVDs and regularly teaches master classes on the road.
At 57, performing live is more important to Emmanuel than ever, and he tours constantly, often playing over 300 concerts a year. Guitar players of all levels come to his shows to watch his magic hands work, but his appeal goes far beyond musicians. His live shows are known for their humor, passion, and infectious joy. The power of his charismatic showmanship will be an enduring part of his legacy. Tommy Emmanuel's message is pure love for the music, and he delights in sharing it with the world, one audience at a time.
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