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Oz music trailblazer recognised with honorary award

Published:10 April 2019

LEFT: Phil Emmanuel’s wife Amanda is pictured with CQUni Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Nick Klomp, and Associate Vice-Chancellor for the Sunshine Coast Region, Teressa Schmidt. RIGHT: VC Professor Nick Klomp (left) and Associate VC Teressa Schmidt flanking Paul Hickerton from the Buderim Men's Shed team (who constructed the mace used during graduation) and Lyndon Davis, the traditional custodian (Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi man) and artist who painted the mace.

CQUniversity Australia has this week (Tuesday 9 April) awarded late Australian music legend, Phil Emmanuel OAM with an Honorary Masters of Music, at the University’s Sunshine Coast Graduation ceremony, which attracted 64 graduates.

Mr Emmanuel’s wife Amanda accepted the posthumous award on his behalf, and was supported by her son Ethan, and Phil’s daughters Jamie-Lee and Jesse.

CQUniversity recognised the music icon for his contribution and service to the Australian music industry and dedication to regional audiences and mentoring young musicians.

Associate Vice-Chancellor for the Sunshine Coast Region, Teressa Schmidt explained that the University conferred the honorary award to recognise the considerable contribution Mr Emmanuel had made to music.

“Phil was known as Australia’s greatest electric guitar player and also as a champion of Australian music and homegrown talent.

“He made a considerable contribution to the Australian music industry and provided exceptional service to his discipline by educating and inspiring others and bringing people together through music,” said Ms Schmidt.

Mr Emmanuel’s wife, Amanda, said that the family was grateful to accept the award on Phil’s behalf, and that it would now be added to an already lengthy list of accolades.

“Phil would have been so honoured to accept this honorary award today.

“Our family would like to thank CQUniversity for this honour, as it recognises not just Phil’s musical talent but the very important commitment he made to working with up and coming musicians and promoting live music in regional communities,” said Mrs Emmanuel.

Phil Emmanuel OAM dedicated his life to music and live performance and by the age of nine, was working as a professional musician in the family band, touring with his brothers Tommy (rhythm guitar) and Chris (drums) and sister Virginia (slide guitar).

The Emmanuel siblings’ band The Trailblazers won two televised talent contests, after which they produced an album.

They travelled Australia for six years (1960 – 1966) which set the stage for the following years of Phil’s professional career.

Phil’s resume of work is extensive and his versatility is well known and acknowledged by both musicians and fans alike. During his lifetime, he worked with several iconic artists, across several genres of music, including jazz performers James Morrison, Don Burrows and Big-Band; country legends Slim Dusty, Reg Lindsay, Lee Kernaghan, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Tammy Wynette; and rock and blues acts Dire Straits, The Shadows, Jimmy Barnes, Roy Buchanan, Don Walker, John Farnham and Ian Moss.

Phil headlined several tours and performed at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with brother Tommy, INXS, Vanessa Amorosi, Savage Garden and Midnight Oil.

In 2011, Phil was inducted to the Roll of Renown in Tamworth, which recognises artists who have made a lasting and significant contribution to Australian Country music.

On 24 May 2018, Phil Emmanuel passed away unexpectedly at the age of 65, following a performance in Parkes, New South Wales. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the performing arts, particularly through music.

Phil’s final album Thunderbird Legacy will be officially released on Wednesday, 24 April at a concert event, featuring an extensive line up of some of Australia’s finest established and emerging musicians.

The event will be held from 7 pm at the Majestic Cinema and Event Centre, Nambour.