Fingerstyle guitarist Tommy Emmanuel performed at the Youth Theatre in Ha Noi on Wednesday. The Australian is regarded as a living legend among guitarists across the world. Nguyen Thuy Binh interviewed Emmanuel about his first performance in Viet Nam and what advice he would give young people pursuing a career in music.
Inner Sanctum: Did you know your concert in Ha Noi was so highly anticipated?
I was looking forward to playing in Viet Nam so much. I have had many people writing to me asking when I will come to play. It's always the most exciting feeling to play to a new audience for the first time.
Inner Sanctum: Fingerstyle guitar is being performed by many of today's outstanding young players around the world. What do you think of fingerstyle's increasing popularity?
I think that fingerstyle is just one of the styles that I play. During my show, you will see many styles. I try to combine jazz, blues, country, rock and folk as well as pop music in my concerts. It's not just one style.
Inner Sanctum: What helps you be creative when practising, recording or composing?
Just trying to get good at what I'm doing forces me to work at it. I enjoy playing live as much as I enjoy recording. The hardest part of being a touring musician is trying to find time to write, to be a composer.
Inner Sanctum: What artists do you like to listen to today?
I like Ed Sheeran. I like Adele, Lady Gaga, Sting, and I like James Taylor's new album.
Inner Sanctum: What message can you give to students thinking of pursuing music as a career?
Get some good songs and play them with all your heart.
Inner Sanctum: Who played the biggest role in your youth to encourage you to stick with guitar?
Nobody had to tell me to stick with guitar. I always knew what I wanted to do and nobody was going to stop me. Nobody had to encourage me, people had to put a hose on me because I was always fired up for playing!
Inner Sanctum: Eric Clapton has said you are "The greatest guitar player I've ever seen". High praise indeed.
I don't know where that came from, but I toured with Eric back in 1990 and he was very nice to me. He's one of my heroes and role models.
Inner Sanctum: You have twice been nominated for a Grammy award and was voted Rolling Stone (Australia) Magazine's "Most Popular Guitarist" for two consecutive years and have earned four Platinum and Gold albums. You most recently were chosen for the second time as "Favorite Acoustic Guitarist" by US Magazine "Guitar Player". Which of these accolades are most meaningful to you ?
Awards and recognition are much appreciated. However, awards don't pay the bills. Playing live is what puts my family through school and puts a roof over their head. — VNS