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CGP-Certified Guitar Player-The Legacy of Chet Atkins

Updated on January 8, 2015
After being designated a CGP by Chet, Tommy thought enough of the title to have it inlaid into the 12th fret of his signature Maton EBG808TE.
After being designated a CGP by Chet, Tommy thought enough of the title to have it inlaid into the 12th fret of his signature Maton EBG808TE. | Source

A Plea To The CGP Guitar Community

By the time Youtube was born I was fifty years old and playing in a blues band while searching the Youngstown area with drummer Tom Piete for something different. Youtube turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me in my guitar playing life as I’m sure it has for many others. It was there that I first heard Tommy Emmanuel play Angelina and I was hooked. I put down my Les Paul and picked up an Alvarez-Yairi JY-84 acoustic and the rest is history. Sometime in 2008 I started on what turned out to be an amazing journey into the intricacies of fingerstyle acoustic guitar. Although I had been playing guitar for 37-years at the time, it took me a quite awhile to get my bearings. I had retained some of the feel for the strings under the fingers of my right(Picking) hand but was a long way from competent. After I learned Angelina and several other Tommy pieces I discovered a whole world of fingerstyle guitarists that I never knew existed. Andy McKee had just started to become popular and there was the rest of the Candyrat pack including Don Ross, Antoine Dufour, Jimmy Wahlsteen and Stefano Barone to mention a few. During my ramblings it was my good fortune to uncover three guitarist that would impact and drive my desire to play fingerstyle more than any others and they are Gabriella Quevedo, Sungha Jung and Adam Rafferty. They inspired me. I think the entire Youtube guitar community would agree with me in nominating these three into the Order of the CGP(Certified Guitar Player). I know they’re young but what sets them apart is that they are inspiring in their performances. How many people do we know who are inspiring? The raw talent that comes out of these three young people is no less than a gift from God. It has always been my belief that God speaks to man through art and nature. These three show exceptional artistry and are all naturally gifted.

I think all will agree that the CGP can only be bestowed by the now reigning CGPs along with Chet’s daughter. To Tommy I say, keep it going. Chet started it so please keep it going. It was meant to continue. I am also appealing to Chet’s daughter Merle, Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Wariner, and John Knowles. Paul Yandell was the latest inductee in 2011 but didn’t live long enough to enjoy it. He was supposedly, “The last and final CGP”. Why “final” when members are still alive but hot on the heels of Paul. We don’t want the CGP to go extinct do we? Why let it go when it can become Chet’s legacy? Throw some big soiree. I’m sure some or all of the TV networks would be more than happy to sponsor it. Eric Johnson deserves the CGP above all newcomers in respect to his relationship and influence on Chet Atkins. Eric as a young man, successfully inspired Chet. Cliffs of Dover and Londonderry Air are both masterpieces that serve to inspire others. These are my candidates; Adam Rafferty, Gabriella Quevedo and Sungha Jung. I’m not saying you have to pick them, only that I am formally presenting them for your consideration. There are so many uncertified CGPs out there that need to be recognized. Let’s breathe some new life into the CGP as a benchmark for excellence, now and in the future.

Adam Rafferty has a charm about him that would easily transfer to
an assortment of performance careers. He was born for it. He has an easy going style coupled with a hepcat cool that only serves to embellish his expert technical ability and innate musicality. A teacher of this caliber is priceless. The best thing about Adam Rafferty is that his website is FREE. He does have tutorials that are for sale but the amount of advice, technical information(Including one that shows step by step how to set up and shoot Youtube videos) and free tutorials are enough to get anyone with the desire and commitment to advance into a higher level of fingerstyle playing. He is nothing less than fabulous. Adam is also very committed and accessible to his students and will answer questions on his web page and blog as though you were his next door neighbor. A native New Yorker Adam was primarily a jazz guitarist citing Mike Longo(Pianist for Dizzy Gillespie) as his mentor. Starting the guitar at age six he went on to play with some of the jazz greats before dedicating himself to fingerstyle after hearing Tommy Emmanuel. You will here Tommy Emmanuel’s inspiration behind many of the great fingerstylists. Rafferty’s fingerstyle renditions of Michael Jackson’s hits along with those of Stevie Wonder are by far the best on Youtube and in the WORLD! Due to his recent tour of Europe I often picture him on a European train dressed in a newsboy cap & leather jacket with a guitar case sitting next to him like a new age Woody Guthrie. I’ll list his website in a link below. Any aspiring and/or veteran fingerstyle guitarist would be doing themselves a great disservice if they didn’t take advantage of Adam’s FREE website and insightful tutorials. The guitar players of the world are lucky to have him. Thanks Adam!

Gabriella Quevedo brings movie star looks along with a natural fingerstyle ability that is innate and instinctive. Taylor Swift dreams she could play like this. Inspired by Sungha Jung at the age of twelve she started playing fingerstyle guitar with a maturity and ease that seemed almost paranormal. One year later at the age of thirteen, she exploded onto Youtube playing a black Yamaha as though she had been studying the guitar from infancy. She was born to it. With such talent and finesse after only one year of playing, the Youtube fingerstyle community quickly labeled her a prodigy. She has performed in Europe, with the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, Adam Rafferty, Sungha Jung and Hans Pethig. It’s hard to believe she’s only been playing for 6-years. Her fingerstyle interpretations of contemporary music are diverse and include, The Eagles, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, John Mayer, Bruno Mars, Tommy Emmanuel and Kotaro Oshio to name a few. Gabriella attributes her interest in guitar to her father, a talented Argentinean jazz/rock guitarist who, according to her bio, plays guitar “All day long”. She seems as surprised about her new found success as we are in discovering her. Gabriella was crowned the winner of the “Young Talents” contest at the Uppsalas International Guitar Festival in Sweden in 2012 becoming the first female to ever achieve that title. She has greatly contributed to fingerstyle’s Youtube fan base and serves as a mentor for young aspiring female fingerstylists all over the world. The way Gabriella positions her camera on Youtube gives students a great view of the position of her fingers on the fingerboard. She’s a joy and an inspiration to watch. A link to her website and Facebook fan page can be found below.

Sungha Jung is a prodigy if there ever was one but, he doesn’t like to be known as such. He says that he “just wants to be known as a guitarist” without the label of prodigy before his name. The South Korean Einstein was born on Sept. 2, 1996 and started playing when he was 10-years old. Like Gabriella, Sungha played with a veteran technique that was a wonder to behold after only a year of acquaintance with an instrument that looked comically cumbersome and almost as big as he was. Netizens have watched both Sungha and Gabriella grow up on Youtube. Sungha plays a Lakewood guitar of his original design and is endorsed by Lakewood. He has put polish on an already adept fingerstyle technique that just keeps getting better. It’s funny sometimes to see his little white dog asleep on the couch behind him as he records some of our favorite classics. Sungha has one of the most musically diverse Youtube repertoires out there and the hits just keep on coming. He has a few originals recorded as well. I’m sure he will bring awesome compositions to the table in his guitar future. My favorite Sungha Jung video is the Phantom of the Opera. Wow! What a fabulous arrangement! I’ll put a link to it along with one to Sungha’s website & Facebook page.

And so, it’s up to you CGP community. What will you do? Will you keep the tradition going or will you let it slip into oblivion. I heard or read somewhere that Merle Atkins, Chet’s daughter, wants to keep it going. Break out and do it Merle! Come on Tommy! Let’s keep Chet’s memory alive! ~

Sungha Jung at 12-years old.
Sungha Jung at 12-years old. | Source

Phantom of the Opera

Poise, technique and ease are just some of the many acoutrements in Gabriella's performances.
Poise, technique and ease are just some of the many acoutrements in Gabriella's performances. | Source
Winner of the "Young Talents" contest Uppsalas International Guitar Festival in Sweden in 2012.
Winner of the "Young Talents" contest Uppsalas International Guitar Festival in Sweden in 2012. | Source

Libertango

Teaching through example, Adam Rafferty is one of the hardest working guitarists in the world.
Teaching through example, Adam Rafferty is one of the hardest working guitarists in the world. | Source
Adam's jazz roots bleed through to a fingerstyle technique second to none. Check out 4-Levels of Boom Chick on Youtube and at the bottom of this article.
Adam's jazz roots bleed through to a fingerstyle technique second to none. Check out 4-Levels of Boom Chick on Youtube and at the bottom of this article. | Source

Something different; some Bach. The set list is diverse and superb.

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