If you were to only hear little EmiSunshine sing, rather than actually see her perform, you’d think the 9-year-old blues, bluegrass and country crooner was easily pushing 65.
“It’s in her and just comes out,” EmiSunhine’s mother, Alisha Hamilton, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “There’s nothing planned or forced. Her dad and I are amazed every time she opens her mouth.”
When it comes to the blues, the young girl, born Emilie Sunshine Hamilton, from Madisonville, Tenn., has an unbelievably old soul, channeling some of country music’s greatest from other eras such as Johnny Cash, Jimmie Rodgers and Dolly Parton.
“She likes the old music, as far back as the ’20s,” Hamilton, 45, said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with the new, popular music, but she loves the old stuff. She is so drawn to it, it’s hard to explain. She seems like she came from another era.”
EmiSunshine performs all the time, as often she can, mostly across Knoxville and Gatlinburg, Tenn.
“I like the performing,” said little EmiSunshine, who has been singing since she was 4. “I love playing with my dad. He plays bass. And my brother plays mandolin.”
Although music was already a Hamilton family affair, EmiSunshine’s success has just recently been amplified after a YouTube video of the soulful sensation performing at a flea market in Sweetwater, Tenn., went wildly viral.
“My favorite thing is watching her and watching people’s reactions to her, because she brings so much joy to people,” said Hamilton, who has also been a songwriter for years. “As a mom, that’s easily the best part.”
Hamilton and her husband, Randall, have known EmiSunshine had a special musical ability ever since she was a baby, even before she could talk.
“My husband owns a recording studio so we had artists come through all the time,” Hamilton recalled. “When they would sing, she would hum along. Even as a baby, her humming was pitch-perfect.”
But she’s not all about the classics. Earlier this year, EmiSunshine, who also plays the ukulele and piano, released a disc with 18 songs on it. She wrote or co-wrote 16 of them, which, according to her parents, is one of her strongest gifts.
“She’s been writing since she was about 5,” said Hamilton. “With some performers, it’s the parents pulling the strings. I’ve been a writer for years and years, but I’ve never been as good as I am with her. She pulls it out of me.
“For instance,” Hamilton added of her intuitive daughter, “when we’re writing songs or riding from gig to gig, she’ll see somebody on the street and make a comment that makes it seem like she knew them from when they were a teenager, like she’s known them all their life, and she’ll use that for inspiration.”
There’s no denying this little girl can belt it out with the best of them, but where she draws this emotion, even her parents don’t understand.
As she wails classics like Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison” or Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” EmiSunshine conveys so much emotion you’d think the 9-year-old had lived through years of heartbreak and tragedy herself.
“She sings it with so much emotion she makes you believe it,” said Hamilton.
“I was born with it,” Emi Sunshine modestly explained.