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Guitarist builds worldwide audience with instrumental YouTube performances

Andy McKee never has to utter a word, yet his music speaks volumes.

And his music has helped him cross over in music and find success worldwide.

“I fell in love with the guitar and instrumental music,” he says during a recent phone interview. “That was all I needed to do this for a living.”

McKee got his start playing both guitars and harp guitars.

He would upload his music on YouTube, and he eventually amassed more than 55 million views.

McKee is known for his signature technique of playing harp guitar, by using his left hand on the frets, while strumming with his right hand on the strings above.

In 2016, McKee was on the road for the majority of the year.

Singapore. Vietnam. Japan. South Korea. Those were just a few of the first-time stops the 37-year-old made throughout the year.

“It’s been busy, and the greatest thing to see is how audiences all over the world feel my music,” he says. “There’s something to be said about the melody of a song.”

In April 2016, he released “Live Book.”

The album was recorded in December 2015 in Athens and Duluth, Ga., as well as Birmingham, Ala.

It features tracks fro his entire catalog.

“I’ve always wanted to do a live album; for quite a few years I’ve felt it’s something that has been missing from my collection of releases,” McKee says. “This album will feature some of my YouTube hits like ‘Drifting’ and ‘Rylynn’, some songs from my 2014 EP ‘Mythmaker,’ and a cover of a Michael Hedges song called ‘Because It’s There’ played on harp guitar that I haven’t released yet.”

McKee admits to putting some extra pressure on himself for the live album.

“Knowing which shows we were recording, I knew that I had to remain loose,” he says. “There was a part of me that was trying to be as perfect as I could. That would have taken away from the live show. I think that we only used cuts from the Georgia shows.”

Although McKee spent the majority of 2016 on the road, he is eyeing a different path for 2017.

After his current tour finishes, he’s going to try to get his next album under control.

“I’ve made a promise to myself to write more,” he says. “Then in the summer, I’m going to be teaching at some guitar camps for Tommy Emmanuel, Joe Satriani and John Petrucci. I can’t believe that I’m seen as a peer of these legendary guitarists. These were guys I was emulating while I was growing up. It’s so surreal.”

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