April 24, 2020 | By Janeen Megloranzo Courtesy of The Country Note
When you hear the vocals and lyrics of EmiSunshine, it’s hard to grasp at the fact that she hasn’t celebrated her Sweet 16 yet. An old soul in a young person’s body, her songs are mature in both words, rhythm and subject matter. This talent along with her down-to-earth personality and awesomely unique taste in fashion has earned the Tennessee native over 500,000 likes on Facebook and a highly devoted and enthusiastic fan-base. Recently EmiSunhine and her band The Rain – which features her father, uncle and brother – released Family Wars, an album that focuses on the good and the bad in society and life; topics that unintentionally led to this becoming Emi’s most personal release yet.
We recently caught up with the musical prodigy to talk about her journey in music, the new album, and more.
CN: For our readers who may not be familiar with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
EmiSunshine: I’m a singer and songwriter. I’ll be 16 this June, but I’ve been making music since I was a little girl. I started writing songs with my mom when I was about 5 years old. I love animals. I have a pet pig and a dog. The dog goes on the road with us, but I leave the pig at home!
CN: With everything that’s going on in the world, especially COVID-19, we hope everyone in your circle is safe and healthy. How are you holding up?
EmiSunshine: Pretty good! We are quarantined in, like most other artists. I stay in touch with fans through social media and I do a Facebook livestream every Thursday night, but I can’t wait to go back on tour!
CN: Which musicians, country or not, have influenced you both personally and as an artist?
EmiSunshine: Dolly, Loretta, Buddy Miller and Jason Isbell are some who come to mind, in the country or Americana world. I love all kinds of music, though. I’m a huge fan of Cher. She has helped my vision of where I want to find myself later on—huge shows, lots of clothing changes, big production, massive songs!
CN: Your go-to instrument is the ukulele. What attracted you to it?
EmiSunshine: I couldn’t chord a guitar at age 7 because my hands were too tiny, so I took a ukulele lesson and the rest is history!
CN: At only 15, you have done more than the average person and even some artists get to do in their lifetime – from performing on national television and at the Grand Ole Opry to having an appearance on Elvis documentary “The King.” How have you been able to absorb all this and stay so grounded?
EmiSunshine: My family. The lessons they have taught me are invaluable.
CN: Between the performances, appearances and so on – do you have a favorite moment?
EmiSunshine: That first Late Night Jam at the Ryman with Marty Stuart was the biggest night of my life, because it led me to playing the Grand Ole Opry just two months later!
CN: You have a new album out, “Family Wars.” It is your most personal album to date and the subject matter is very deep (on many levels). Was it difficult to create such an intimate project and to put it out there?
EmiSunshine: I didn’t think about the personal aspect of some of the songs, until the album was finished and I listened. Then it was a little “gulp” moment, when I figured out I had spilled out an entire catalog of songs that were written from pain and sorrows and tragedy I had either heard about, read about or imagined might come about.
CN: While hard, they say one should always try to find the good in something, which is what you have done here. You are quoted as saying that in this album you are “looking at problems and trying to make something beautiful out of them.” How were you able to do that to create this album?
EmiSunshine: I am not an optimist like Mom. I’m more like Dad, who is a realist. I try to split my songs down the middle, and fine something positive to say, even if a song is about something negative. “Jonas Black” is about violence in America, but it’s also about hope for the future. “Meanwhile in America” is about suffering, but also about the hope that comes with freedom.
CN: Can you take us through your songwriting process?
EmiSunshine: I write all the time, but just as important, I listen. Even if I’m not really using the words, I memorize conversations and ideas from people on the road, in the grocery, at the bank or wherever. I find time eventually to get in a room with my favorite co-writers and unload!
CN: You are surrounded by a true family band consisting of your father, brother and uncle. What is it like to perform with those so close to you?
EmiSunshine: They are tolerant of me! I’m a perfectionist and they are all holding on for dear life! Seriously, we have fun but we work hard. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. It’s great to travel and work with people I love and trust.
CN: If you could collaborate with any one artist, who would it be?
CN: What was the first concert you ever attended?
EmiSunshine: The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I was 9 months old!
CN: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?
CN: What’s next on the horizon for you?
EmiSunshine: I’m collaborating with the legendary Bootsy Collins on a song. It was so unexpected, when he invited me to work with him, because we come from different musical worlds, but I am so honored to do it. He and his wife, Patti, are so kind! I’m also working on new songs with lots of co-writers that I’m excited about!
Family Wars is available digitally and through EmiSunshine’s official store here
For more information on EmiSunshine, visit her website at theemisunshine.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.