Born in Bristol, TN in 1962, Emory Cannon’s earliest memories of music and influences are Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, and Elvis. Emory got his first guitar at age fourteen and started learning to play mainly Baptist hymns.
Emory moved to Gatlinburg, TN in 1979 where he lived with his sister, Betty, who worked in Gatlinburg at music clubs and restaurants during her college breaks. Gatlinburg is a gateway city at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the country, hosting an average of 9,000,000 tourists annually.
There, Emory met and learned from many different local musicians. Hearing an array of new music changed his direction. Being influenced by styles of Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Rock & Roll, and Blues, he has often said “I could never pick one style and stick with it. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
Emory started writing songs in his early twenties and managed to blend different styles together. As far as favorite songwriters and musicians go, Emory says, “Man, I could talk all day about the people who influenced me. They range from Hank Williams to Jerry Garcia and on and on.”
However, in the early eighties, Emory met the person who would become one of his biggest influences, Mark Griffin. Mark, three of his brothers, and a cousin moved to Gatlinburg from Jamestown, New York, along with extended family. They were the Griffin Brothers Band. They started playing the local clubs. “The first time I saw these guys, they blew my mind! They blew everybody’s mind! They had played from New York to California, and I wondered, what are they doing here?” They became the hit of the local music scene.
Mark was the lead guitar player and back-up vocalist. They played songs from the Allman Brothers, complete with harmonizing guitar leads, to the Beatles. Their style ranged from Rock to Blues to Country and Rockabillie. Their show emphasized musical intricacy and harmonic vocals. Emory says, “When I would go see them, Mark probably didn’t notice that my eyes and ears were fixed on his fingers. I would go home after their gigs and fumble around on my guitar trying to make my fingers do what I heard his do.”
Emory became friends with Mark and the band, who would invite him up to sit in with them. Eventually, Emory became a member of the Griffin Brothers Band, appearing weekly in an acoustic line-up at the locally popular Ruby Tuesday’s for almost two years. Inevitably, the Griffins moved away from Gatlinburg to pursue other music opportunities. “I think it’s great and so true to life that one of the most influential people you meet isn’t famous, but just someone you cross paths with.”
Emory has been in several bands, including Humboldt Lily. The Phillbillies, Sevier Blues Band, New Mountain Grass, and the Henrytown Dukes. He is currently working on a new CD.
Emory’s true passion is performing live and sharing the stage with his friends. His primary instruments are acoustic guitar (Martin D-28), harmonica, mandolin, and electric guitar. Emory can most often be heard performing solo gigs, entertaining with a combination of soulful vocal style and intricate guitar work.
Emory is happily married to a Goddess, has two grown children, and lives in Pittman Center, Tennessee.