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Tony Meléndez

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Meléndez and the second or maternal family name is Rodríguez.

Tony Meléndez
Melendez concert 3-12-15.jpg
Meléndez performing on March 6, 2015
Background information
Birth nameJosé Antonio Meléndez Rodríguez
Born (1962-01-09) January 9, 1962 (age 57)
Rivas, Nicaragua
GenresChristian, Spanish
Occupation(s)singer, songwriter, composer
Years active1985-present

José Antonio Meléndez Rodríguez (born January 9, 1962, Rivas, Nicaragua) is a Nicaraguan American guitar player, composer, singer, and songwriter who was born without arms. His mother took Thalidomide while pregnant, which caused his disability. Meléndez has learned to play the guitar with his feet.[1]


Meléndez began playing and singing in the Los Angeles area in 1985.[1] On September 15, 1987, Meléndez sang Never Be the Same while playing the guitar with his feet in a special performance for Pope John Paul II. Visibly moved, the Pope descended from his chair and embraced Meléndez. The Pope told Meléndez, "My wish to you, is to continue of giving [sic] this hope to all, all the people," which inspired him.[2]

His band, Tony Meléndez and the Toe Jam Band, has a busy concert schedule. Meléndez gives motivational talks and has written a book. He campaigns actively for the pro-life cause.

Meléndez now resides in Branson, Missouri with his wife, Lynn.[3]

Awards and recognition

Meléndez has won Unity Awards Male Vocalist of the Year UCMVA in 2000, 2002, and 2004, and. In 2002, he took Artist of the year. He received the Branson Entertainment Award for Best New Artist in 1999, the "Inspirational Hero Award from the NFL Alumni Association at the Super Bowl XXIII and has received special commendations from the State of California for his work with young people and from President Reagan, regarding Tony "as a positive role model for America".

Meléndez spoke candidly about the effect disability had on his life and work in the book Chronicles of Courage: Very Special Artists written by Jean Kennedy Smith and George Plimpton and published by Random House.

  • Special Commendation from President Reagan — As A Positive Role Model for America[3]
  • Special Commendation from State of California - For Work with Young People
  • Inspirational Hero Award from the NFL Alumni Association at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami
  • Branson Entertainment Awards – Best New Artist (1999)
  • Unity Awards — Male Vocalist of the Year UCMVA (2000)
  • Unity Awards — Artist of the Year UCMVA (2002)
  • Unity Awards — Male Vocalist of the Year UCMVA (2002)
  • Unity Awards — Male Vocalist of the Year UCMVA (2004)


Published works

  • A Gift of Hope (1991)[3]


  1. ^ a b "Dancing Without Arms". Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  2. ^ "Papal Performance Tony Internet Vids H 264 LAN". YouTube. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  3. ^ a b c d "Tony Melendez: Biography". Retrieved 2009-07-01.

See also

External links