Molly Tuttle, Kaki King and Christie Lenée are your Acoustic Guitarist of the Year judges

Guitarist of the Year 2020
(Image credit: Press)

Guitarist of the Year 2020 is well underway, and the entries are arriving in their droves. Now we’re excited to announce this year’s all-star judges for the Acoustic Guitarist of the Year category.

Judging your entries will be clawhammer hero Molly Tuttle, percussive innovator Kaki King, and last year’s winner – and fingerstyle champ – Christie Lenée.

There’s more info on each of the judges below, but for the uninitiated, Guitarist of the Year is a search for the greatest guitar talent on the planet, hosted by Guitar World, Guitar Player and Bass Player.

Categories include Acoustic Guitarist, Electric Guitarist, Bass Guitarist, Young Guitarist (17 and under), and Guitar Teacher of the Year.

Winners will not only get their hands on some big-ticket prizes, but will also be featured in Guitar World and Guitar Player – and receive a boatload of online exposure.

It costs $30 to enter each category, a portion of which will be donated to music-based charity the NAMM Foundation. Guitar Teacher of the Year is free to enter. We’re accepting submissions for all categories between September 1 and October 31.

For paid-entry categories, guitarists must shoot and submit a video (up to three minutes long) of themselves to YouTube or Vimeo, and fill out a short nomination form. For Guitar Teacher of the Year, students must nominate their teachers, and the teachers with the most nominations will be featured and judged.

To enter, head over to Guitarist of the Year Awards.

Molly Tuttle

Molly Tuttle

(Image credit: Zach Pigg)

A singer-songwriter, guitarist and banjo player, Molly Tuttle became a darling of the Americana scene in 2017 with her Rise EP, a Billboard Number Two hit on which she displayed her phenomenal flat picking, clawhammer and cross picking prowess.

That same year, she became the first woman to win the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year award, then won it again in 2018 and was named the Americana Music Association's Instrumentalist of the Year.

Tuttle has continued to earn raves as a recording artist with her 2019 debut album, When You’re Ready, and her latest, …But I’d Rather Be With You, on which she puts her country-bluegrass spin on songs ranging from Rancid’s punk rocker Olympia, WA to the Rolling Stones’ She’s a Rainbow.

Kaki King

Kaki King

(Image credit: Ebru Yildiz)

Known for her technical mastery and energetic solo live shows, Kaki King is considered one of the world’s greatest living guitarists. Whether on record or onstage, she creates a transformative musical experience, a perfect storm of creativity with the most individualistic set of tunings since Joni Mitchell’s.

King frequently utilizes unique, unorthodox playing techniques, boasts a cinematic composition sense and, most recently, has added innovative multimedia presentations to her stage work.

Her latest multimedia project, Data Not Found, finds her redefining the guitar’s role as a tool for storytelling by exploring contemporary issues like artificial intelligence and personal empowerment. The tour will launch in 2021. King’s latest album, Modern Yesterdays, will be released October 23, 2020.

Christie Lenée

Christie Lenée

(Image credit: Mat Ninat)

As the hottest rising star in acoustic guitar, Christie Lenée uses dexterous fingerpicking and two-hand tapping to relay deep emotions through her tuneful compositions.

That was enough to help her win the 2017 International Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, an acoustic-only competition held at the Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas. Then, at the 2019 UK Guitar Show in London, she wowed a panel of esteemed virtuosos, including Andy McKee, Molly Tuttle, and John Jorgenson, and came away winning Acoustic Guitarist of the Year.

In the wake of that honor, Lenée compiled the best-of album, Circles ’Round the Sun, and embarked on a European tour opening for Tommy Emmanuel.

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Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.