Tommy Emmanuel's future as a guitar virtuoso was apparently signalled from an early age.
"I've seen photos of myself when I was three years old, in my pajamas, standing in front of my mother's radio and record player," says the Australian-born Emmanuel, 56, who's resided in Nashville since 2003. "I'm this tiny little guy with blond hair, but I've got these huge hands, so something was going on right from the beginning. I was given the hands."
Emmanuel was also given a guitar by his mother when he was four years old -- "Quite a revelation" which has resulted in more than 20 albums, including collaborations with the late Chet Atkins. Last year Emmanuel was honored as a Member of the Order of Australia, and his latest studio release, a two-disc set called "Little By Little," came out in February, followed by a live DVD and PBS special. And he's launched a TommyTV.com web site where he offers guitar lessons.
Emmanuel's next project is already in the can, too -- a holiday album called "All I Want For Christmas" that's due in November and features standards plus a pair of originals, "One Christmas Night" and "The Magic of Christmas."
"People have been asking for it for about 20 years -- 'When are you gonna play some Christmas music?' " Emmanuel says. "My manger kept saying, 'You should make a Christmas album,' so I decided this is the year.
"Of course, I recorded it in July. We put up lights and hung the mistletoe. But it's wonderful to play Christmas music any time of the year, and we even do some in the show now, which people seem to like."
Tommy Emmanuel performs Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $39.50. Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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