Nashville’s Tommy Emmanuel will take the Franklin Theatre stage next week to give music lovers a dose of holiday spirit with hits off of his new Christmas album.
Emmanuel released “Christmas Memories,” showcasing new arrangements of favorites such as “Jingle Bells,” “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” and “White Christmas.”
In addition, the album includes three original tunes that are sure to become instant Christmas classics, including “Christmas Time,” “Let’s Make a Christmas Memory” and “Christmas Memories.”
With Emmanuel on guitar and vocals, the album features long-time friend and collaborator John Knowles, CGP, on guitar; Pat Bergeson on guitar and harmonica; and Annie Sellick on vocals. The album serves as a follow-up to 2011’s “All I Want For Christmas,” his first-ever holiday album.
Emmanuel is a renowned fingerpicker, one of five guitarists in the world who was named a Certified Guitar Player by guitar legend Chet Atkins. He is a singer-songwriter. He’s been creating albums since 1979.
Before his downtown concert, the Franklin Home Page caught up with Emmauel while he was touring in Texas, a week before he will arrive in Williamson County. The show will happen in two parts: the first part features only Emmanuel while the second part includes other musicians joining him on stage for Christmas music.
What is your favorite song on the play list for the Franklin show?
It’s “Christmas Time.” It’s a brand new song and it’s the title track of the album. Basically, we don’t write anything religious. We write about family being together at Christmas. I think of all the spiritual Christmas songs have been written. Playing Christmas music is always such a joy. All the songs have interesting arrangements.
You’re originally from Australia. How did you develop your love for country music?
We were listening in the late 50s, and we were listening to everything that came out of America – country music, too. That was our favorite kind of music. That’s what we played in the house when were kids. My mom showed us how to play chords and how a song is constructed. We had a handle on it when were little. Four of us played together as a group. That was my first band. I was the youngest.
I find one of the most fascinating pieces of trivia about you is your Chet Atkins certification. How did that happen?
I heard him when I was kid and I fell in love with that sound. I couldn’t stop trying to work on it. Chet’s albums weren’t easy to find. Eventually I wrote him a fan letter and he wrote back. When I came to Nashville in 1980s, I rang him … I went and visited my hero, and that’s how I ended up in Nashville.
(The certification) was an honor given to me back in 1999. It’s a lifetime contribution to the art of fingerpicking. I guess with all my touring and teaching I am fulfilling my destiny by taking the music I listened to – which was a lot of musicians out of Nashville – and spreading it around the world.
How did you learn to fingerpick?
It’s still a work in progress. You never stop learning that stuff. I played and played and worked and worked on it. When I came to Nashville and met with Chet, he ended up showing me more.
Emmauel will be performing at Franklin Theatre on Tuesday, Dec. 20 and Wednesday, Dec. 21.