While America may now know sixteen-year-old singer and musician Emily Brooke from Fox’s huge hit singing competition show American Idol, South Florida has long known the talent that it has in its community. Perhaps that is why the annual South Florida Fair, held in West Palm Beach, invited Emily to play a Friday night show on one of its prime stages on one of its busiest nights.
Staying true to her roots, Emily (and her band — Eleni, Marc, and Jacob) took the Sun-Sentinel stage late Friday night, immediately roping in a crowd of cowboy hat-wearing, boot-donning onlookers, ready to hear what the night’s entertainment had to offer. And what Emily had to offer was what she provides every single time she stands in front of an audience — talent, poise, humbleness, and unadulterated comedy.
Also a staple of an Emily Brooke show is a fabulously prepared setlist, interspersed with catchy covers across all genres, as well as originals from her debut full-length album Here Right Now. In other words, the ninety-minute set performed by this young, albeit seasoned, artist was a perfect infusion of all the elements that an eclectic South Florida Fair population could hope for on a fun Friday night.
Kicking off her set, Emily took the audience back to a year well before her time, covering Linda Ronstadt’s “When Will I Be Loved?” A perfect introduction to unfamiliar spectators, within the few minutes it took Emily to sing this song, the seats began to fill rapidly. Emily didn’t stop there, embracing artists who have influenced her and some of country music’s most prominent artists of her generation, including Dolly Parton (“Jolene”) and Patsy Cline (“Crazy”). Paying homage to each of these artists with ease and undeniable talent, Fair attendees ranging from young children to millennials to elderly men were entranced by the teenage hometown sensation.
Naturally, Emily also finds her influences in those who are closer to her age with hit songs playing on the radio as she cruises around with her friends. Maddie & Tae’s “Girl in a Country Song” is a newer addition to Emily’s set and is a song which she conquers seamlessly, even performing it acoustically (with a cappella portions) when without her band. Of course, Emily also performed her American Idol audition song, Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away,” making the audience feel special by telling everybody that “here, at the South Florida Fair, you got to hear the whole thing instead of just a ninety second clip!”
Straying from country music, the genre in which Emily finds the most comfort but finds no fear in leaving to dabble in other areas, she also took on P!nk’s “Perfect,” Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” and The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey.” Upon announcing that she would be taking on P!nk’s somewhat explicit track, Emily assured the crowd that she would be keeping it clean because “only adults can say bad words in songs!” She then blew everyone away, proving that she is, in fact, nothing less than, less than perfect on stage.
Emily’s take on the Imagine Dragons hit was unique and, since we are talking about an American Idol star, we can go ahead and say “she made it her own.” Slowing it down and lending her bluesy country sound to the Top 40 song, the audience sang along and enjoyed every moment of her slight detour from her predominantly country set.
Of particular note is also the fact that Emily has her own full-length album (available on iTunes and at all Emily Brooke appearances), Here Right Now, from which she performs songs during her shows. This show included the title track, “Dance Hall,” “Party in the Pool,” and “The Ugly Truth.” Fans who have been following Emily for awhile and/or are also fans of Danielle Bradbery might recognize “Dance Hall,” a song that originated on Here Right Now and was later on Danielle’s debut album. A typical crowd favorite, Emily performed the song that yielded her first official music video, sharing her undying appreciation for her friend and videographer, Sara Kauss.
Original song “Party in the Pool,” which was co-written by Emily, was of significant importance at the South Florida Fair, but not for any reason you might expect. Instead, it was a man in the crowd and an oversized Scooby Doo stuffed toy that briefly stole the spotlight:
Rounding out Emily’s set at the Fair was a collection of Miranda Lambert songs, including her final performance of the evening, “Gunpowder and Lead.” Before Emily could leave the stage, the country loving females in the crowd moved toward the stage and began to dance to the hard-hitting track that tells the story of a woman seeking revenge against an abusive man. Emily shone throughout the show and did a phenomenal job keeping her packed house engaged down to the very last note.
Due to time restrictions, Emily was unable to perform the one song she truly wanted to end with, and that is Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” For those of you who are unaware, this was the very first song she performed for the American Idol powers that be, wow’ing them during her Nashville “cattle call” audition. The song holds a very special place in Emily’s heart, for good reason, and is one that future show-goers can expect to hear.
What makes Emily Brooke a true IDOL isn’t just her ability to hit the right notes, strum her guitar, learn a song within minutes, and own a stage. There is so much more about this teenage prodigy that makes her stand out from the rest. She remains the same sweet, silly, appreciative person she was before she became nationally recognized and is a true professional at all times. Staying after her shows to take photographs with every last fan who approaches her and signing anything that is handed her way, Emily Brooke is just beginning to taste what her future holds; and she is setting herself up for a future of dreams becoming realities and a career that is as beautiful as she is — and that is quite a tall order.
Watch Emily Brooke perform Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”
Watch Emily Brooke perform The Lumineers “Ho Hey”
Watch Emily Brooke’s “Dance Hall” video
***Image and video credits: Sara Kauss***