In music as in love, one + one can add up to…not two but a new and greater one.
On Heart Songs two of the world’s greatest guitarists, Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles, make this clear. Both are masters of their instrument, honored by the iconic Chet Atkins with the rare designation of CGP (Certified Guitar Players). Emmanuel has twice been voted “Best Acoustic Guitarist” by readers of Guitar Player Magazine and honored as both a “Member of the Order of Australia” and an official “Kentucky Colonel”. Knowles is a Grammy winner, a member of the National Thumb Picker’s Hall of Fame, and editor of the respected FingerStyle Quarterly.
Their early journeys were dissimilar. Emmanuel began his in Australia, grew up on the road with his family’s band, settled as a teenager in Sydney and left his rock band to launch a spectacular solo career. Knowles followed a more academic path, eventually earning a Ph.D. in physics from Texas Christian University but then electing to pursue his true love of music.
Inevitably they would cross paths, become friends and perform on stages and clinics around the world. Their styles were distinctive but for that very reason they meshed seamlessly, with Knowles generally creating sophisticated but compelling foundations over which Emmanuel’s guitar would soar in astonishing yet always musical flights.
Tommy Emmanuel has achieved enough musical milestones to satisfy several lifetimes. Or at least they would if he was the kind of artist who was ever satisfied. At the age of six, he was touring regional Australia with his family band. By 30, he was a rock n’ roll lead guitarist burning up stadiums in Europe. At 44, he became one of five people ever named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, music icon Chet Atkins. Today, he plays hundreds of sold-out shows every year from Nashville to Sydney to London. All the while, Tommy has hungered for what’s next. When you’re widely acknowledged as the international master of the solo acoustic guitar, what’s next is an album of collaborations with some of the finest singers, songwriters and, yes, guitarists alive today. “For me, music has always been about collaboration–the push and pull you get from another human being’s energy,” explains Tommy. “Even when I play solo, it feels like I’m playing to the emotions I’m getting from the crowd. To feel the love or the joy or the hope coming through these other pickers and singers was electric–I played in ways I never would on my own.” Accomplice One is a testament to Tommy’s musical diversity, the range of expression that stretches from authentic country-blues to face-melting rock shredding, by way of tender and devastating pure song playing.