Two-time GRAMMY nominee Tommy Emmanuel is one of the world’s most respected musicians. With a professional career spanning five decades, Tommy has garnered hundreds of thousands of loyal fans worldwide.
His unusual talent and life are common lore in Australia: born into a musical family, Tommy got his first guitar at age 4 and was taught by his mother. He quickly learned by ear, with no formal instruction, and has never read music. By age 6 he was working as a professional musician in the family band (variously named The Emmanuel Quartet, The Midget Surfaries and The Trailblazers). By the age of 10, young Tommy had already played his way across Australia.
In the 1970s, Tommy was in high demand as a session player and sideman: he played on recordings for Air Supply, Men at Work and dozens of other popular bands and artists, as well as thousands of commercial jingles and tunes. Some of his most notable appearances were on the Air Supply hit singles “Lost in Love,” “All Out of Love,” “Every Woman in the World,” and “Now and Forever.” Tommy soon became known as one of the best modern guitarists in Australia. In 1985 he joined one of the decade’s biggest Australian rock bands, Dragon, and recorded the platinum-selling album Dreams of Ordinary Men. It is for his successful solo career, however, that Tommy is best known.
In the 1980s, Tommy finally met and got to play with his hero, Chet Atkins, in Nashville, TN. From that magical moment forward, Atkins took him under his wing, and the influences are evident throughout Tommy’s music: in his personal philosophy, technical precision, virtuosic improvisations and unusually broad repertoire (encompassing not only country and bluegrass, but pop, jazz, blues, gospel, even classical, flamenco, and aboriginal styles). Tommy speaks of his mentor with the love and gratitude of a son, and his dream of recording with Chet Atkins came true in 1996 when the pair made an album titled “The Day The Finger Pickers Took Over The World” for which Tommy received his first GRAMMY award nomination.
Chet honored Tommy with the title of “Certified Guitar Player” (CGP) for his contribution to guitar music, a very rare distinction shared by only four other people in the world. After an amazing performance with his brother Phil at the Sydney Olympic Games Closing Ceremony, the world wanted to know who this mysterious Australian guitar virtuoso was. In 2001, Tommy released his first solo-acoustic album, ONLY and his popularity has grown by leaps and bounds aided by a non-stop touring schedule and increasing exposure in the media.
His album The Mystery earned him another GRAMMY nomination, and in 2008 Guitar Player Magazine and Acoustic Guitar Magazine named him Best Acoustic Guitarist and Gold Medalist in the in the Readers’ Choice and Players’ Choice Awards. Guitar Player’s 2010 Readers Choice awards named him Best Acoustic Guitarist for the second time.
Tommy Emmanuel is an honorary Kentucky Colonel, a CGP (Certified Guitar Player), an Order of Australia Medalist (AM) and the holder of both an honorary Masters Degree (MA) and more recently an honorary Doctor of Arts (DR) from Charles Sturt University in Australia in recognition of his commitment to rural Australia and his contribution to music education.