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Local Artist Born with One Hand Shares Message of Determination, Resilience

July 16, 2021 (Micca Terrell)

Learning to play guitar with two hands is challenging enough, but a local artist born with one hand has taught himself to play professionally, and is sharing his message of hard work, determination, and resilience to people all around the world. Tony Memmel is a singer, songwriter, teacher, and speaker who has traveled to 47 of the 50 states and to 17 countries. His work ranges from composing symphonies, performing with his band, visiting schools, hospitals, and churches, and helping people with hand/limb-differences like his.

Recently, Memmel and his wife Lesleigh and young son Theo have been at Camp Blessing, Texas, a 10-week summer experience for campers with special needs. It’s just the second opportunity that he’s had since the pandemic for in-person learning, and it’s been a joy for him to lead the entire camp in worship every night.

“I love looking out into the chapel and seeing people use sign language to participate in the praise. I love hearing people who are sometimes classified as ‘non-verbal’ making joyful noises. I love seeing young people who sign up for camp in volunteer leadership roles transformed by those whom they get to serve,” Memmel said.

When he’s not teaching face-to-face, he is using virtual learning technology to reach students around the globe and has partnered with U.S. embassies and consulates in 12 countries to create meaningful virtual programs this year. Memmel has worked with students to Uganda to Nigeria to Kazakhstan to Saudi Arabia to Malaysia, and beyond.

“These programs focus on finding unique solutions to the challenges we’ve all been going through: how can we improve as entrepreneurs, musicians? How can we help others with our gifts and abilities?” he said.

When Memmel is home, he enjoys playing guitar and singing in the praise band at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, and frequently visits schools, churches, and hospitals around Tennessee, both in-person and virtually.

“I’m always eager to connect more with my home community. This spring, I was invited to be the first artist to play at the new outdoor music venue in Pleasant View Village, but unfortunately the event was rained out. I hope it gets rescheduled for when I’m back in Tennessee,” he said.

Memmel and his family also likes to “spend time at places like Swezey’s, bring some Kuramoto to the patio at Flytes, hang out at a picnic table at Leatherwood, and Guadalajara (my son would eat only quesadillas the rest of his life if I’d let him).”

For more information about Tony Memmel, check out his website at and also his Facebook page and Instagram @tonymemmel.

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