Thursday, June 2, 2011

Certified Guitar Player Tommy Emmanuel Bringing his “Finger Style” to Grand Rapids

Two-time Grammy Nominee Playing DeVos Performance Hall in September

Legendary guitarist and two-time Grammy Nominee, Tommy Emmanuel has garnered hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide. A household name in his native Australia, Emmanuel will play several North American shows including a stop in Grand Rapids’ DeVos Performance Hall on September 29 at 8PM. The Grand Rapids performance will include special guests, Pam Rose and Anthony Snape.

Tickets are $35 and $45. Tickets go on sale Friday, June 17 at 10 AM and may be purchased at the DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena box offices, online at, Ticketmaster outlets or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

Known for his unique style—what he calls “finger style”—Emmanuel plays the guitar the way a pianist plays the piano. Using all ten fingers to perform the melody, rhythm, bass, and drums, Emmanuel can use his sole guitar as a whole band. His versatility has taken Emmanuel from international Jazz Festivals to shows with the Sydney Philharmonic, The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and performances for the Masai people in remote areas of Kenya.

Born into a musical family, Tommy was considered a child prodigy. In 1962, Tommy heard Nashville guitarist Chet Atkins' music for the first time and was riveted by the complexity of Atkins' solo sound. He spent hours trying to figure out the "fingerpicking" style and gobbled up each of the American star's albums as they came out.

After Tommy's appearance with his brother Phil in the Closing Ceremonies of the Sydney Olympic Games and his debut at the famous Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, in late 2000, Americans wanted to know who this mysterious Australian guitar virtuoso was. In 2001, Emmanuel released his first solo-acoustic album, ONLY, and in 2002 it debuted in the U.S. Emmanuel's popularity in the US has grown by leaps and bounds, aided by a non-stop touring schedule and increasing exposure in the media. Since 2005, Tommy was inducted into the National Thumbpickers' Hall of Fame in Muhlenberg, KY (the only non-American ever to be selected) and awarded with Thumbpicker of the Year and Album of the Year by the group, as well. He played Carnegie Hall for Les Paul's 90th birthday Tribute Concert. His ‘The Mystery’ album earned a Grammy nomination in 2006 for Best Country Instrumental for 'Gameshow Rag/Cannonball Rag'. In 2008, Guitar Player Magazine and Acoustic Guitar Magazine named him Best Acoustic Guitarist and Gold Medalist - Fingerstyle category in the Readers' Choice and Players' Choice Awards, respectively.

In Nashville in 1999, Tommy was honored by his mentor, Chet Atkins with the title of “Certified Guitar Player” for his contribution to fingerstyle guitar, a rare distinction shared by only three other people in the world (Jerry Reed, Steve Wariner and John Knowles). It was a crowning moment for Emmanuel and a title the self-proclaimed "humble, uneducated, country kid" from Down Under takes very seriously.