Muriel Anderson is a lady of firsts.
Anderson, considered to be among the top acoustic nylon string guitarists/harp-guitarists in the world, is the first woman to win the National Finger-style Guitar Championship. The host of the renowned "Muriel Anderson's All Star Guitar Night" in Nashville, her recording, "Heartstrings," accompanied astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery.
Woody Allen's film "Vicki Cristina Barcelona" features music by Anderson, who has performed in a bluegrass band and written music for the Nashville Chamber Orchestra. Her repertoire is varied, ranging from Japanese songs to Sousa marches.
On June 14, the Savannah Folk Music Society will present Anderson in concert.
"I started playing at 8 years old," Anderson says. "I first performed for my eighth-grade class.
"I played 'The Naughty Sweetie Blues' and 'Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out,'" she says. "I didn't realize that was unusual material for a third-grader."
Anderson's mother was a piano teacher.
"We always sang in the car for fun," she says. "I saw music as part of being a human being."
IF YOU GO
What: Muriel Anderson in concert
When: 7:30 p.m. June 14
Where: Stewart Hall, First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington Ave.
Cost: $15, cash only at the door
Early on, Anderson knew she would do something in the arts. "I had a dream that I was carrying a guitar to school and it became heavier and heavier until finally I put my guitar down and rode it to school," she says.
"It lifted off the ground. It was so much fun driving this little flying guitar around, that when the school bell rang, I decided to keep riding my guitar.
"I decided the guitar was going to carry me through life," she says. "I had a backup plan of piano tuning."
Anderson had the right training to pursue a musical career. "My mother had taught me to live on rice and beans," she says. "I didn't need all the frilly things."
Talent may be genetic in Anderson's family.
"My grandfather was a saxophonist in John Philip Sousa's band and went on to have his own dance band," she says.
"I thought being a musician was the coolest thing I could do. Later on, my guitar teachers were inspirational to me.
"I had a Doc Watson record that never left my turntable," Anderson says. "I would run home from school and try to learn every song."
There are many highlights in Anderson's career. "Amazing things happen on a daily basis," she says. "It's been wonderful for me, an interesting journey.
"I remember playing with Chet Atkins," Anderson says. "I remember playing in a castle in Italy."
Anderson's music is varied. "I like to play the music stirring my heart at the moment," she says.
"My music moves across so many genres in a concert. When I first started out being a professional musician, everyone asked me what kind of guitarist I was going to be.
"I was trying to decide until I realized I had to play the music in my heart," she says.
Although Anderson normally flies to engagements, she will be doing a driving tour while in Savannah. "I'm home about a third of the time," she says.
While in Savannah, Anderson will perform two new songs she has written.
"The songs write themselves, I just have to get out of their way," Anderson says.
In addition to performing, Anderson also teaches workshops. "They each have their own unique joy," she says. "It's part of the whole package. I love music so much, I have to share it and get what's in my heart out to the thinkers."
In Savannah, she will play her 20-string harp guitar.
"I'll play some Beatles, some Sousa marches, I'll imitate the sound of an entire marching band and a bluegrass band and play some new pretty tunes I've written," Anderson says. "It changes, depending on the audience. An interaction with the audience is integral."