New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


Tune into Radio Jersey with Lee Mrowicki every Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm
Broadcast on Asbury Music!

Teenage Country Music Sensation EmiSunshine

By Shen Shellenberger, JerseyArts.com

originally published: 04/02/2018

Teenage Country Music Sensation EmiSunshineEmiSunshine is a genuine country music wonder girl. Emi, whose full name is Emilie Sunshine Hamilton, began singing when she was four years old, or, as her mother Alisha Hamilton said in an online interview, “as soon as she was old enough to harmonize.”

“I have been surrounded by music all my life,” Emi told me when we talked by phone. “My grandmothers were in a gospel group, my mom is a songwriter, and my dad writes and plays,” she said. “Music is just a part of who I am.”

At five, together with her mother, Emi wrote her first song, “My Time to Fly.” By the time she was eight, she had learned to play guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. And, in 2014, at the ripe ol’ age of nine, Emi became a certifiable sensation after a video of her performing spread as quickly as a dry-grass wildfire.

“In 2014, I was playing and singing with the band [her father Randall Hamilton on stand-up bass, brother John Letner on mandolin, and 'Uncle' Bobby Hill on drums] at a flea market in Tennessee, and a fan, who’s also a good friend of ours, recorded it and put it on YouTube.”

The video went viral, posting thousands and thousands of views and likes. “I was kind of surprised,” she said of the video’s instant popularity, “and really excited. It was life-changing.”

Life changing, indeed, as that video led to an invitation for Emi and her band to play on NBC’s “The Today Show,” which enjoys a million-plus viewership. Now, only a few years later, Emi’s YouTube site has had more than 14 million visitors and half a million folks follow her on Facebook. She and the band play more than 50 shows a year – at festivals and venues across the country – and have performed a dozen times at the esteemed country music palace the Grand Ole Opry.

emisunshine2

In the September 2017 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Emi was listed among the “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know,” and in April an episode of “Little Big Shots” that features Emi and the band will be broadcast. That was a thrill for Emi, too. “Being on the show was a great experience,” she said, adding that she really enjoyed “getting to meet the other kids” and the host, Steve Harvey. “He was so nice,” she said, “and very kind to my family and my band.”

Later this spring, Emi and the band will perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a choice gig for an artist of any age. “My dad told me about New Orleans when I was young,” Emi said, “and my parents took me there for my birthday.” But playing Jazz Fest is something very special for Emi. “I’ve been dreaming about that for a long, long time.”

When talking with someone Emi’s age, you might find a bit of irony in a statement like that and be tempted to ask: How long is a long, long time when you’re 13?

But Emi is clearly an old soul, with a level of experience that normally doesn’t come so early in life. Not only do her talent and stage presence belie her age but she also possesses a sensibility rarely found in someone so young.

In fact, when I asked Emi about her songwriting process and from where her inspiration comes, she responded in a wise-beyond-her-years way.

“Everyone has their own formula for writing songs,” she explained. “It doesn’t have to be the same as anyone else’s.”

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but this does not sound like the standard teenage philosophy.

“I started young and I was able to learn at my own pace,” she said. “I never felt like I had to rush it.”

I asked Emi if there are any artists she would like to collaborate with in the future. “Oh, my gosh,” she said. “I’d love to work with Chris Stapleton, Darryl Scott, Jamey Johnson, Tyler Childers – these guys speak my language and they write what my mama and I try to. I love writing with Mama. She has all the words for a good story like she’s lived 100 lives.”

Emi has also become part of a writers’ circle in Nashville, with the likes of Vicki McGehee, Kyle Jacobs, and Jeffrey Steele. “That’s big for a small-town girl like me,” she said.

Emi’s first love was the music all around her as a child – “the older, more traditional country sounds” – but she says her musical tastes are expanding. “Lately, I try to ‘absorb’ music – the variations in lyrics, phrasing, and composition – and explore some of the newer country artists as well as older blues and rock.”

When you are a professional artist, it can be hard not to think of music as your job, so I asked Emi if she still listens to music for fun. I love her response.

“Music IS fun!” she said. “If we’re not singing or playing, we are listening to music.” Her favorites span a wide range – from Tom Petty, Levon Helm, some Bad Company, and newer favorites Government Mule and Grateful Dead. And she told me that if you looked at her phone playlist right now, you’d find a lot of Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, Jason Isbell, and Buddy and Julie Miller. When she is in a drawing or painting mood, she looks to John Prine, Bob Dylan, and Kris Kristofferson to inspire her.

While these may not be a typical 13-year-old’s musical choices, the music that Emi listens to is a direct reflection of what she is living and learning.

“I just love the kind of music that goes into your soul and makes you feel good,” she said, but this sentiment does not mean that Emi’s songs are one-dimensional or artificially bright and sunny. “Some of the darkest music can make you feel good and speak to your soul,” she said. “Sometimes you have to get through the sadness to get to the happiness.”

Teenage Country Music Sensation EmiSunshine

And she added, from the perspective of a young woman with a strong spiritual side, “if God wants you to say something meaningful, He will give it to you.”

I asked Emi to let her imagination run wild for a minute and tell me about whom she would love to share a stage with.

“The top of my list would be “Dolly Parton • Emmylou Harris • EmiSunshine,” she told me. “Beyond that, I’d like to play with Bob Weir, Buddy Miller, and Jim Lauderdale,” she said. “Oh, and Rod Stewart would be great too!”

“They are all my heroes,” she said. “They always give 100 percent, and that’s what I try to do. ”

From talking to Emi, it’s obvious that a huge part of what gives her self-confidence, self-assurance, and the ability to be such a polished and professional performer is that she has always had her family behind her. “They are so supportive,” she said. “I honestly don’t know what I would be doing right now if it weren’t for them.”

And, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Emi describes herself as having “a normal life.”

“I’m home-schooled, but that’s not new,” she said. “I do a lot of the same things other kids my age do.”

This includes hobbies like drawing and painting – “my life revolves around art” – and a more recent passion for the hula hoop.

But music is her heart and soul.

“I love it so much,” she said. “I believe it is why I was put on this earth.”




About the author: Shen’s been a Jersey girl for most of her life, other than living for a three-year stretch in Portland, Oregon, and six magical months in Tokyo. Shen loves the arts in all of its various forms – from the beauty of a perfectly-placed base hit to the raw energy of rock 'n' roll – and has successfully passed on this appreciation to her three grown children. Shen’s most recent jobs include WXPN (1993-2001) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2003-present). Shen also has been a working freelancer for 25 years, and operated her own frame shop in Mt. Holly in the late-70s.

Content provided by Discover Jersey Arts, a project of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.






State Theatre Presents Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet Tour
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Diana Krall live in concert as part of her Turn Up The Quiet World Tour on Friday, October 12 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $43-$153.50.  This concert will feature songs from Diana Krall’s stunning new album, Turn Up The Quiet, out now on Verve Records as well as a mix of some fan favorites. 
Kean Stage Presents The Manhattan Transfer
(UNION, NJ) -- Going strong after more than 45 years, Grammy Award winner The Manhattan Transfer, with tenor vocals from Kean University alumnus Alan Paul '71, will captivate Kean Stage audiences with their distinctive four-part harmonies at Enlow Recital Hall on Sunday, September 30 at 3:00pm.
3rd Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival returns to Jersey City on October 6. Presented by Mint 400 Records and Sniffling Indie Kids, the festival includes acts from those labels and Little Dickman Records, Rhyme and Reason Records, and State Champion Records.  The festival takes place at White Eagle Hall. Doors are at 4:00pm and the music starts at 4:30pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
The Dryden Ensemble Presents Bach Cantata Fest
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Dryden Ensemble will present a Bach Cantata Fest on Saturday, October 20 at 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 6587 Upper York Road, Solebury, Pennsylvania, and on Sunday, October 21 at 3:00pm at Miller Chapel, located on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, Princeton, New Jersey. Tickets are $25 for general admission and free to students with an ID. They may be purchased at the door or online at www.drydenensemble.org.
Steve Barton & Robert Darlington From Translator To Perform at Randy Now's Man Cave
(BORDENTOWN, NJ) -- Whether it's pure pop or moody acoustic ballads, singer/songwriter/guitarist, Steve Barton, has developed a reputation for crafting some of the most literate and poignant music in underground rock.  In addition to being a founding member of the revered punk/psychedelic band Translator, perhaps best known for the Barton-penned song "Everywhere That I'm Not", he has released several solo albums.  The seventh and latest, "Tall Tales and Alibis", is a sprawling triple album tour de force filled with Steve's brand new songs, which was released in March by Sleepless Music.   To celebrate the release of the record, Barton will be making a rare live appearance with his Translator partner Robert Darlington, this Sunday, September 23 at Randy Now's Man Cave in Bordentown (134 Farnsworth Ave) at 7:00pm.  


From the Ballpark to the Concert Stage: Bernie Williams LIVE! at The Grunin Center
Fans of sports and music are lining up outside Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Saturday, September 8, 2018 for a concert by four-time World Series Champion and Latin Grammy-Nominated guitarist/composer Bernie Williams and his All-Star Band!
“Here’s Lucie!” Lucie Arnaz LIVE! at the PNC Bank Arts Center
Even though the weather outside Holmdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center is cloudy with some light intermittent drizzle this Wednesday, September 12, 2018 afternoon, the venue’s stage is still shining brightly with talent thanks to a live performance by television, film, and stage actress/singer Lucie Arnaz!
Mike Aiken Talks About Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch At RVCC
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) -- Raritan Valley Community College presents Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22.  The three-day event will feature a number of different musical shows by Mike Aiken, as well as other solo artists and groups.  
Virtuoso Jazz Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
It’s a warm but lovely Aug. 23, 2018 evening here in Newton, NJ. After enjoying some hand-dipped Cliff’s ice cream from the window at Hayek Market, we march up Spring Street looking forward to hearing some world-class jazz at one of the Garden State’s favorite concert venues, The Newton Theatre.
An Interview with Bernie Williams
Four-time World Series Champion and Latin Grammy-Nominated guitarist and composer Bernie Williams will perform with his All-Star Band at the Jersey Shore this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 at The Grunin Center of the Arts in Toms River, NJ!










Event calendar
Saturday, Sep 22, 2018


MUSIC

Asbury Park Porchfest @ Booskerdoo, Asbury Park - 12:00pm

Carl Chesna & Co. @ Hotel Tides, Asbury Park - 1:00pm

Echoes @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Cole Swindell @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

GRUPO NICHE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

The History of Motown @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Drake Bell @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live feat. The Glimmer Twins @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Opera Theatre of Montclair Presents Hansel and Gretel @ Central Presbyterian Church, Montclair - 4:00pm


Oscar D’León with Tony Vega and Los Hermanos Moreno @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

SunDog Band at Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ @ Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ, Paterson - 9:00pm

Celtic Thunder X @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Young Person's Concert @ River Dell Middle School Auditorium, River Edge - 1:00pm


Tigerman record release show for “Descend Into Savagery” @ Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Hubby Jenkins @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 2 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Claire, Anton et Eux" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Assisted Living: The Musical @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 3:00pm


DANCE

SWAN LAKE - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

SOLE Defined @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


LITERATURE

Monthly Saturday Writing Retreats @ Tiferet Journal, Bernardsville - 9:00am

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.