The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


With talent & super tape, musician hits it big

If Tony Memmel wins a Grammy Award someday, he'll probably thank the makers of Gorilla Tape. That's because Memmel's discovery of this super sticky tape gave the singer-songwriter the support he needed to use a guitar pick properly, despite not having a left forearm.

The tape, of course, is only a tool for Memmel. His skills as a composer and performer are what has garnered him national attention.

The band Counting Crows held a contest to cover some of its songs. Memmel's version of "Recovering the Satellites" was a grand prizewinner. Crows front man Adam Duritz wrote of the offering: "I love the vocal treatment, technically, musically and just emotionally. It makes it very personal."

A lifelong member of Ascension Lutheran Church, Waukesha, Wis., Memmel's music is his ministry. But where he makes the biggest impact, he said, is as a supporter of the Lucky Fin Project, which celebrates and assists people with limb differences — focusing on children. Memmel wrote the Lucky Fin theme song, with half of its download proceeds going to the organization.

"When I'm on the road performing I have a chance to connect with families and with children through the organization," Memmel said. "I can play music for them and I can show them what an adult in their situation is doing with his life."

Memmel has enjoyed music from early childhood. Participating in Ascension's theatrical production of the Passion story excited him about performing. He started writing songs, and when he was 13 he asked his parents to help split the cost of buying a guitar.

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February issue


Embracing diversity