WEST JEFFERSON — Musical sensation Emilie Sunshine Hamilton, better known as Emi Sunshine, made a brief stop in West Jefferson on Wednesday before heading to her MerleFest performance on Thursday.
Emi Sunshine, 11, stopped by 580 WKSK for an interview and to play some of her favorite tunes.
The trip to Ashe County was an eventful one for Emi and the rest of the band as they hit a deer on the way in one of the vans they were traveling in.
Emi has been singing since the age of four and it has been something she has enjoyed from the start.
“I’ve always loved singing but I never thought that I would be getting to sing on the (Grand Ole) Opry or anything like that,” said Emi.
She has sang at the Grand Ole Opry 13 times already in her young career.
“I told my mom I wanted to sing on that stage one day. And she said maybe one day,” said Emi. “It’s pretty cool thinking about all those people that I really love on stage that have sang there, it really made me very nervous the first time I played.”
Emi, her family and band members are all from eastern parts of Tennessee near the Madisonville area.
Emi and her band also made an appearance on the Today Show in New York.
“As soon as I got to play I saw people outside the glass and I saw somebody with an Emi Sunshine sign. It was pretty cool to see that, I was so excited,” Emi said.
The band played on Thursday at 3 p.m. at MerleFest and then headed off to California to continue their tour with over 20 more stops coming up. On average, Emi Sunshine and her band plays about 150 shows a year.
With all of the live performances, album production and travel time, Emi still has to fit school work into her busy schedule. Emi is homeschooled and does much of her work on the road from stop to stop.
“Everybody in the band kind of contributes to helping me with school work,” said Emi. “It’s hard to balance everything in a typical week, but we get it done. My mom usually does about five or six hours a day of school work and then four to five hours of practice.”
Emi not only sings but also plays the ukulele and has been doing that since the age of seven.
So far during her musical career, she has already opened for Willie Nelson, traveled across the United States and to parts of Canada and hopes to keep this going for as long as she can. Emi got to open for Loretta Lynn at MerleFest on Thursday and also met Marty Stuart and Tanya Tucker on previous tour stops.
Emi Sunshine has almost 494,000 fans on Facebook. You can find her music online at www.emimerch.com, on YouTube and on iTunes.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87