Tony Melendez

A Night of Hope: Tony Meléndez

Tony Melendez and PopeAn inspiring story of a toe-pickin' guitar player and vocalist.   Born without arms and with a club foot, Tony Melendez is the sound of hope and courage to the world! 

On Wednesday, November 7th, 2012, the Jesuit Center hosted Tony Meléndez as part of our annual Loyola Week celebration.   Tony is an inspirational Catholic musician and speaker.  He has performed for Pope John Paul II, received numerous Unity Music Awards, and been recognized twice with special commendation by the State of California for "Work with Young People," and by President Reagan for being "A Positive Role Model for America."  Meléndez has won Unity Awards Male Vocalist of the Year UCMVA in 2000, 2002, 2004 and in 2002 took Artist of the year.   He has written a book, A Gift of Hope (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989.)

Even though he has no arms, Tony miraculously plays guitar with his feet and has been performing for over 20 years in forty countries.  

The event was held on  Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 in Roussel Hall/ Music & Fine Arts Building.

See a video of Tony Meléndez performing: click HERE.


Adapted from: A Gift of Hope. Melendez, Tony. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989.

"Tony Melendez may have been born without arms, but that didn't stop him from dancing, dating, playing the guitar and enjoying life to the fullest.  Tony was born without arms in 1962 as a result of his mother taking the prescription drug, Thalidimide.

Today, Tony is known around the world for playing the guitar with his feet.  In 1985, Tony began playing and singing in the Los Angeles area. Just two years later, his life was changed forever when he performed for the Pope before a live audience of 6,000 people and a TV audience of millions.  Tony was instantly thrown into the limelight.

But before Tony became famous for jamming on the guitar with his toes, he had a few dating obstacles to overcome, especially in his high school years.   Tony said, "Girls would take me on as a sympathy project, then just disappear.  I didn't blame them.  Who would want a boyfriend with no arms?  It's not easy being a teenager.

I went to my first dance without a date. Just as I thought, I ended up standing alone against the back wall of the gym.  I remember feeling a little uncomfortable, wondering if I should ask someone to dance or if someone would eventually ask me.

All of a sudden one of the girls from my English class walked up to me, looked me in the eye impatiently, and said, "Let's go!"  It was obvious that she wanted me to dance with her.  Her approach wasn't very romantic, but seconds later we were tearing up the dance floor.

I don't think that girl will ever know how important she was to me that night. At various times in my life people like her have come along to say or do just the right thing when I needed it.  Those sensitive ones are the hope-givers.  They're rare, because they can get their minds off their own problems long enough to reach out to help someone else in need.

You too can be a hope-giver! You can start today by reaching out and helping those in need. You can make a difference!"


For more information on Tony Meléndez:

A biography of Tony Meléndez

Performing for Pope John Paul in 1987.  The quiet young man became known.  This performance started it all.

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