News Story

Guitar Stars Take Stage At NSU

Michael Kelsey

Richard Smith

TAHLEQUAH – Two internationally recognized guitarists will bring their original sounds to the Northeastern State University stage next week.

Michael Kelsey and Richard Smith will join brothers Edgar and Mark Anthony Cruz for the Edgar Cruz Guitar Forum on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Northeastern State University Center for the Performing Arts, the first show of the 22nd Annual Galaxy of Stars Series presented by the Sequoyah Institute. The concert is sponsored by BancFirst.

Guitar wizard/singer/songwriter/performance artist/entertainer all in one package, Michael Kelsey performs music for the eyes and ears,” said Megan White, director of the Sequoyah Institute. “Richard Smith is a former child prodigy who picked up his first guitar at the age of 5 and hasn’t stopped playing since.

Kelsey pounds, pings, strings, pops and pulls music out of every part of the guitar, or anything else an arm’s length or foot kick away in a funky, rhythmic style he calls progressive/aggressive acoustic guitar. His performances have been described as “Cirque Du Soleil” on acoustic guitar.

A native of Lafayette, Ind., Kelsey cut his musical teeth on electric lead and bass guitars in a variety of cover bands from progressive jazz to rock. He spent five years as a recording engineer and arranger in his own studio before closing it to pursue his solo career.

After placing as a finalist in a Guitar Player Magazine’s national competition, he switched from electric to acoustic guitar to take advantage of the broader variety of sounds, moods and nuances available from this instrument that could increase the dimensions of his music.

In 2004, Kelsey was named the winner of the Guitarmageddon guitar competition hosted by Guitar Center music stores. He toured nationally as the opening act for Blind Melon and Dishwalla and opened shows for Adrian Legg, Tim Reynolds, Cowboy Junkies, The Bodeans and John Wesley Harding.

Legendary guitarist Chet Atkins has called Smith his hero and has said, “He is the most amazing guy I know on the guitar. He can play anything I know, only better.

Smith was born in Beckenham, Kent, England in 1971 and began playing guitar at the age of 5. In no time, the toddler outstripped his dad’s six-string prowess and it was clear to all who saw or heard him play that Smith was a child prodigy. Smith possesses not only an amazing physical skill, but also a photographic musical memory as well.

Smith quickly mastered the guitar stylings of his father’s favorite music – the country picking of Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. He learned even the most complicated of these tunes with ease and confounded everyone with his dexterity. The complex styles of many guitar greats, including Django Reinhardt, Les Paul and Lenny Breau have proved to be no impediment to his voracious musical appetite.

Apart from his guitar virtuosity, Smith is also an accomplished banjo and violin player. His repertoire spans an incredible range of musical styles from country, bluegrass, mainstream jazz, modern pop and rock to classical guitar.

Tickets for the Edgar Cruz Guitar Forum are $20 for adults, $18 for NSU alumni, $16 for NSU employees, $14 for senior citizens, $10 for students and children, and $5 for NSU students. To purchase tickets, contact the NSU Box Office at (918) 458-2075. Ask about full season tickets to see all the shows at a discount.

Additional funding for the 22nd Annual Galaxy of Stars Series is provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information on the Sequoyah Institute’s 22nd Annual Galaxy of Stars Series, visit


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