Tommy Emmanuel’s light to shine at Blues on Broadbeach – Mark the Date: 18-21 May

WORDS: Steve Waterman PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

As a man of profound faith, Tommy Emmanuel knows only too well that it’s better to give than to receive.

In fact, he lives by the Musician’s Prayer every time he grabs his guitar and walks on stage…

something that after a period in the musical wilderness due to the unforeseen lockdowns of the pandemic, he is even more eager to do.

“Have you ever heard of the Musician’s Prayer?” Tommy asks me during a recent interview from his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

“It goes like this: God, make me a hollow reed from which the pith of self has been blown, so that I may be a clear channel that your love can come through me and to others.” (Baha’i)

“That’s my calling,” says Tommy.

“It has to be, it’s not about me. Performing is about what happens when I do what I’m born to do, to take me out of the picture and just use me.”

Australia’s greatest acoustic export – renowned as the world’s greatest acoustic guitarist – has a deep desire to empty himself of his God-given talents to aspiring guitarists and music lovers when he returns to Australia for the first time in four years to play at Blues on Broadbeach in May.

For Tommy, who has been playing since he was five, the burning desire to perform has been inspired by the pandemic.

“What we have all learned from the pandemic is that every day is a gift. So, when you go out and play, play like it’s your last,” he says.

Like many musicians starved of their craft for live performance, there is an air of excitement in Tommy’s voice as he talks of the prospect of playing in front of his fans. He’s like a caged animal.


“I was here in Nashville during COVID and it was pretty upsetting for me to see what was going on in Australia and to see how tough it got and really it divided a lot of people,” he says.“Here I was OK. I just stayed at home and in some ways it was great because I’ve spent my whole life touring and being on the road.

“Since I was five years old I’ve never done anything else. So at my age, I just enjoyed being in one place.

“I just love my little nest here and my life is simple. It’s easy. I’ve got beautiful children and they’re grown up, and I’ve got grandchildren now, I love my work, my health is good and I am just incredibly blessed.

“But I am looking to getting back to Australia enormously.”

Tommy recalls the first time after two years that he was able to perform live again.

“I’ll just never forget the excitement of our first show back with a full house and we just about took the roof off the place.

“That’s what I and we as musicians crave for and have been missing.”

So how has Tommy’s music evolved over the years?

“Sometimes someone will show me a video of me playing 20 years ago, and it shocks me,” says Tommy.

“How smooth and faster I was and I’m like, ‘I can’t play like that now’. Now, I play a different way. A lot of stuff I did when I was young was to build an audience and to make a connection with people.

“But nowadays, it’s all about the quality of your music, the integrity and the quality of your songs, and your playing. I’m more concerned about getting a good sound than anything else.

“But I still go out there with the same attitude I always had. It’s like, I’m going to give it 110%; I’m to call everything I’ve got into this because I’ve always known that this was my gift. This was my calling.

“Something happens when I play. And that’s, that’s a great reason to give it your all. That’s the way I serve.

“That’s the way I serve humanity.”

Tommy will be the premier act in an all-star line-up at Blues on Broadbeach to be held on May 18-21.