Hailed by NBC News for making “…the guitar sing like it was invented only to be in his hands,” native Oregonian Tye Austin (age 33) is one of the most accomplished guitarists to come out of the Beaver State. Since he began his formal guitar studies in 2008, he has won multiple international music competitions including the American Protege 2013 and the UK’s Grand Prize Virtuoso 2016. He has been interviewed by NBC News, National Public Radio, The Boston Guardian, and Psychology Today. Tye has performed solo all over the world from NYC’s Carnegie Hall to London’s Royal Albert Hall, Spain’s Albaicin Caves, and many other prestigious venues.
Shortly after moving to Manhattan in 2017, Tye was commissioned by Ovation TV to compose and perform 17th century French renaissance music for guitar and string quartet at the premiere party for the Netflix original series, Versailles, hosted at the US French Embassy. Later the same year, he was invited to perform for over three-hundred world leaders at the United Nations Headquarters. The following year, Tye was invited to perform for the former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, in the penthouse suite on the 72nd floor of the Trump World Tower located on the UN Plaza. In 2019, he moved to Shangahi, China for a music performance and education residency at the iSchool of Music. He was subsequently hired as the principal guitarist for Royal Caribbean International Cruise Lines in 2020, right before the industry paused indefinitely due to lockdowns.
Since the global pandemic of 2020, Tye has been traveling across the Pacific Northwest on a solo journey to rediscover his roots and creative muse. As a full-time van-lifer, Tye has embodied the spirit of the original troubadour. He has been performing at “pop-up” concerts and outdoor events hosted at wilderness locations such as National and State Parks, tourist attractions, retreat centers, hot springs, lava caves, beaches and other wild venues. In between concerts, he spends most of his free time camping, hunting, fishing, and foraging in the forest by himself for 2-3 weeks at a time. He takes intermittent trips to town in order to gather provisions, book concerts, and socialize with towns folk. This extended period of Waldenian reflection has taught Tye how to survive in the wild and succeed in music on nature’s terms, independent from the traditional music industry and mainstream culture. As a result, he founded the Acoustic Alfresco Concerts in order to bring people, high art, and culture back to nature. This new venture aims to foster mental health, social growth, and community engagement in safe and natural environments.
Tye performs a variety of genres from classical to jazz, flamenco, bossa nova, modern pop, and more. He also sings in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. In addition to his solo guitar work, he frequently collaborates with the New York Virtuosi String Orchestra and other chamber ensembles across the US. As a prodigious composer with several commissions to his name, Tye is dedicated to expanding the classical guitar repertoire. He has composed liturgical music for churches, secular music for recording artists, and commercial music for television. His chamber works for guitar and string quartet have been performed and recorded by professional ensembles in the US and Europe. In 2019, he was asked to be featured in Classical Guitar Magazine’s top 10 guitarists/composers in the world. As a prolific singer-songwriter, he has written over 100 songs about the search for truth, hope, faith, and the various forms of love–Eros, Philia, Philautia, and Agape. The final aim of his music is to glorify the most high and reciprocate the unconditional love from above and within that transcends the human condition and remains regardless of circumstance; this is Agape.
Tye bought his first guitar at a pawn shop after attending a Spanish guitar concert for the first time in 2007. “I will never forget that magical night. I witnessed one guitar being played like four guitars simultaneously. An epiphany washed over me and suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I had found my passion, my purpose, and my best friend,” says Tye.
He graduated summa cum laude with his bachelor of arts degree in classical guitar performance and music composition from the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University (OCASOU) in 2013. He was subsequently awarded a full-ride scholarship to attend the New England Conservatory (NEC) in Boston, MA in 2014. Tye finished his Master of Music degree in classical guitar performance with the highest of honors under the tutelage of legendary maestro and pedagogue, Eliot Fisk. During the summer of 2015, Tye moved to Spain to study flamenco guitar performance with David Martinez, head of guitar studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Granada. After moving to Manhattan in 2017, Tye furthered his classical guitar studies with Grammy-winner, Sharon Isbin, head of guitar studies at The Juilliard School.
His debut studio album, Andalusia: Spanish Guitar Music, was released in December, 2017 as an homage to his solo journey across Spain. Tye’s family ancestry is rooted in present day Orduna, Spain (former Basque Country). Born Sephardic Jews, his family fled Spain for the south of France in the late 18th century in order to escape religious persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Tye’s most notable ancestor, Jean Lafitte (c. 1780-c. 1823), was one of the most famous pirates of the Caribbean in history. After successfully migrating to New Orleans by way of present day Haiti (former St. Domingue), Jean and his brother, Pierre Lafitte set up the most successful smuggling operation in US history on Barataria Bay. They also helped Andrew Jackson and Napoleon Bonaparte facilitate the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and fought alongside the US Navy against the British and Spanish naval fleets during the War of 1812 in order to acquire the Pacific Northwest from Spain.
In between Caribbean cruise contracts and Kerouacian road trips on the west coast, Tye resides part-time at his private homestead, surf ranch, and music retreat located in Bandon on the Southern Oregon Coast. His longterm goals involve establishing Oregon’s first outdoor music conservatory and wilderness survival outreach program for Oregonian orphans. In his spare time, he enjoys action sports, fishing/hunting, and foraging for wild edibles in the forest.
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Tye Austin performing solo at Carnegie Hall in New York City.