(Originally aired on November 4, 2011 (Part 1), November 11, 2011 (Part 2))

Because of the importance of these shows, we've broken from our norm of just streaming the interview clips and decided to make both one-hour shows available to hear. Enjoy!

Part 1 :

Chet Atkins Tribute - 1 of 2

Part 2 :

Chet Atkins Tribute - 2 of 2

To gain a deeper understanding of the man and his music, we're going to hear revealing interviews with Paul Yandell, Steve Wariner, John Knowles and Tommy Emmanuel. We'll also hear a wide selection of music from Atkins' huge and eclectic catalog of recordings.

Yandell, Wariner, Knowles and Emmanuel all had enduring professional and personal associations with Atkins. Paul Yandell played guitar with Atkins for 24 years, accompanying him onstage and in the studio from the mid '70s through the rest of Atkins' career. Steve Wariner played bass in Atkins' band and then — with Atkins as his mentor — emerged as a country star and an influential guitarist in his own right. John Knowles and Tommy Emmanuel each collaborated with Atkins across several decades, in the studio and onstage.

These four guitarists share one unique connection: They are all recipients of Atkins' Certified Guitar Player (C.G.P.) Award.

Initially, Atkins used the Certified Guitar Player moniker as a humorous way to describe himself, appending the C.G.P. initials to his name in a “guitarman of letters” variation of PhD or MD. Eventually, Yandell encouraged Atkins to give the late Jerry Reed an official C.G.P. Award, in recognition of Reed's monumental contributions to the guitar. Atkins gave Reed the first C.G.P., and then over the next few years also gave one to John Knowles (1996), Steve Wariner (1997), and Tommy Emmanuel (1999).

After Atkins died in 2001, some of his family members and close associates felt it would be right to also give Yandell the C.G.P. Award, as he'd spent more time than anyone playing with Atkins and helping him connect with audiences around the world. Also, many Atkins fans wondered why Yandell hadn't received the C.G.P.

In response to this, Yandell said, “I always thought that, because it was my idea, it would be in bad taste and self-serving for me to get one. I don't care for awards. I got the best award of all — I got to work for Chet for 24 years."

Despite Yandell's reticence, in August 2011 Atkins' daughter Merle Atkins Russell asked Steve Wariner to help her confer the last C.G.P. title on Yandell, making him the fifth and final C.G.P. recipient.

Jerry Reed died in 2008, leaving four living C.G.P. recipients. For our special two-part tribute to Atkins, we've gathered these four guitarists in a virtual roundtable to reminisce about their friend and the affect his music had on their lives (Paul Yandell passed away shortly after our interview). We’ll hear their stories — including some details that have never been shared before — and numerous tracks featuring Atkins in solo, duo and ensemble settings. The recordings date as far back as 1947 and reach right up to the last album Atkins cut (which was with Tommy Emmanuel).

If you love guitar, you'll be glad you checked out this exclusive and historic two-part program.