Billy McLaughlin to Join Fellow Guitar Virtuoso Stanley Jordan at NJPAC
Guitar virtuoso Billy McLaughlin's last performance in the New York area was opening for a reunion of Traffic in the mid-90's. At the time, he was a right-handed guitar-guru signed to a subsidiary of Virgin Records. Shortly after, disaster struck in the form of an incurable neurological disorder called Focal Dystonia which ruined his fret board hand. But it didn't hold him back.
On March 11th at 8:00 p.m., McLaughlin triumphantly returns to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark as a left-handed guitarist -- and with an inspired story about not giving up that has captured audiences and media worldwide. The Emmy Award winner* will perform with one of his guitar idols, Stanley Jordan, a fellow virtuoso and four-time Grammy nominee who also has an unorthodox playing style, with both hands on the guitar neck.
Tickets range from $49.00 to $89.00 and are available at the box office, by phone or online at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (1 Center St, Newark, NJ 07102,(888 466-5722). Visit www.njpac.org/events/detail/stanley-jordan-billy-mclaughlin for more information.
McLaughlin's is also well known for his unique finger-tapping guitar style with both hands on the fret board who has recorded 14 albums, including one that tracked on the Billboard album charts.
Now living daily with every musician's greatest fear -- not being able to play properly -- he did what for many of us would be unthinkable - if not impossible - he taught himself to play with his other hand.
The legendary acoustic guitarist, Leo Kottke, likened it to "trying to breathe through your feet. It's exactly that hard."
The musician-composer has subsequently gone on to be the international Dystonia Medical Research Foundation Ambassador for Awareness, based in Chicago.
A comeback concert film entitled Coming Back Alive has also been produced about his battle.
In 2013, he was featured in the Public Broadcasting Service special "Starry Night." The program, featuring conductor Jung-Ho Pak and Orchestra Nova, helped raise awareness about Focal Dystonia -- and about the importance of the arts in our daily lives. The program won an Emmy that same year for Outstanding Achievement, Musical Composition and Arrangement.In April 2010, Billy McLaughlinreceived the "Public Leadership in Neurology Award" in Toronto whose past winners include Michael J. Fox, Julie Andrews, Paul Allen and Cuba Gooding, Jr. The award is given annually by The American Academy of Neurology and the American Academy of Neurology Foundation for individuals demonstrating "strong commitment to neurological research and your steadfastness in raising awareness of the daily challenges of people with neurological disease and their families face."
Today he continues to perform, playing solo and with orchestras, or with his "Eclectric" String Quartet and Billy McLaughlin and the Entire Band (9 players) as well as with his holiday ensemble project, SimpleGifts.
He is also an in-demand motivational speaker, appearing at leading-edge conferences such as TEDX in Atlanta and for corporations around the world, including locations in China, India, the Philippines, and other places.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, New Jersey, is among the largest performing arts centers in the United States and is the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey - where Great Performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state's and the world's best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted more than 10 million visitors (including over 1.5 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents. Visit njpac.org or call 1-888-GO-NJPAC for more information.