Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Newbill at the Tony Memmel and His Band concert

Institute of Foreign Languages of the Royal University of Phnom Penh
November 25, 2017

Good evening! On behalf of the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh, I’d like to thank you all for attending tonight’s concert, featuring Tony Memmel and His Band.

Tony Memmel and His Band are visiting Cambodia as part of their Asia tour and the U.S. State Department’s American Music Abroad program, which is a people-to-people cultural exchange program designed to communicate America’s rich musical contributions and diverse culture to the global music scene.

Here in Cambodia, our embassy is partnering with AMRITA Performing Arts to organize their tour. I would like to say a very special thanks to Rithisal Kang and the entire team at AMRITA for putting together such a great tour for the band!

I’d also like to the thank the volunteers from Fulbright and Undergraduate State Alumni Association of Cambodia and the Ambassador’s Youth Council that are here this evening—thank you for volunteering to help make this event a success!

In addition, I would like to thank the Institute of Foreign Languages of the Royal University of Phnom Penh for hosting this concert. Thank you very much for allowing us to bring some American culture to your university!

Finally, I’d also like to thank Epic Arts and Small World Small Band for joining our performance tonight.

Before turning things over the band, I’d like to say a few words about the band and this tour. First, the lead singer of the band, Tony Memmel, was born without a left forearm and hand, but he taught himself to play the guitar by building a homemade cast out of tape that secures a guitar pick to his arm, allowing him to pluck and strum the strings of the guitar.

Tony is an inspiring role model who encourages young people to overcome their challenges. His presence tonight gives everyone here a powerful message that there is no limit for anyone to realize their dreams. In addition, his success is a reminder that we should work together to empower those who unusual obstacles and challenges.

Through this concert tonight, the U.S. Embassy is celebrating the upcoming International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which falls on December 3rd. We are therefore celebrating this day early, but we’re celebrating it by hosting someone who has transcended physical challenges to become a truly accomplished musician.

Last but not least, the band’s tour of Southeast Asia is being conducted as part of the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of partnership between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN. The United States has supported ASEAN through various channels over those forty years, and way has been through arts and cultural exchanges.

Tonight, I am also very delighted to see the joint performances between Tony Memmel and His Band and the energetic young Cambodian band, Small World Small Band, as well as with the artists from Epic Arts.

Thank you again to all of you for joining us tonight, and I hope you all enjoy the concert!