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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bell Buckle performer lets the music flow

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Emilie Burke
(Submitted photo)
If her dream out-of-the-blue phone call arrived, it would be from a big sponsor offering a world tour. For now, Emilie Burke is content with the "Arrival" of her independent-release CD by that name.

The album was produced in "Big" Mike Griffin's home studio in Nashville.

Musical mix

"The Arrival CD is basically a handmade musical quilt to showcase Emilie's versatile and unique voice and style," said Griffin. It includes a selection of songs that, "... touch on all forms of roots music from country to blues -- showcasing Emilie's versatile and unique style."

The 6'10" Griffin is a well-known blues artist who, along with a partner, founded Chrome Link Records in 1998 to share his love of roots music and motorcycles.

As a genre', Americana is a mixture of roots music with influences from country, folk, blues and rock and roll, which aligns well with Burke's earliest musical influences.

Bluegrass, folk

"Growing up at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia was conducive enough, but listening to all those wonderful records like John Denver, Judy Collins, Joan Baez and all the traveling and local performing bluegrass groups surrounding that area cinched it," said Burke.

"My mother would grab my arms and dance with me and we would sing together a lot."

Before moving to Virginia as a child, Burke's family lived in New Jersey -- close enough to New York City, that her earliest memories of performing are in auditions there.

"Mom used to bring me and my younger brother into [the City] for honest-to-God auditions when I was three or four -- we were so young. The audience sat close to the stage in row chairs and it was very intimidating."

Her father was the vocalist in the family, but it was her mother whom Burke remembers as singing around the house and playing records.

Longtime dream

In turn, Burke always knew she would pursue music professionally.

"[There was] never was a time that it was not in my consciousness. I always wanted to perform."

"I can remember my Cousin Kelly and I gathering my Dad's clan together in Grandma's front room and making them sit through our little renditions. We were always putting together skits with singing -- I must have started that when I was five or six."

In time the music called Burke to Nashville. She credits a fascination with recording artists BR5-49 for her discovery of Lower Broadway and she began traveling to Nashville regularly.

"I was hooked -- live music almost 24/7. I was in heaven. It didn't take long for me to decide it was where I had to be." She moved to Tennessee 10 years ago this year.

Day job

Throughout her musical career, Burke has always balanced her 'day job' with her passion for performing. These days she's assistant to the plant manager at Newell-Rubbermaid and counts her co-workers among her top supporters.

"Some of the best folks I have ever had the honor of knowing work at Newell-Rubbermaid," said Burke.

"Plus, I have the best boss on the face of the planet -- he is a Liberal Arts major and he 'gets' it," she said with a laugh.

Local music fans will recognize Burke from performances at the Bell Buckle Café, where she's been a regular for the last six years.

"Best home cookin' on the planet," she asserts. She's also a staple at state park and festival events and joins friend and producer Griffin on the road for regional and national shows.

In addition to original song "True to You," the seven songs on the Arrival CD represent covers of songs Burke grew up with, like "Walkin' After Midnight," and "Angel From Montgomery."

Of those, it is "Leavin' On A Jet Plane" which means the most.

"It was always such a poignant song for me. It puts me right back in the years when Dad was on the road, working. He worked so much, away from home and family -- he was the quintessential work-a-holic."


"Emile's voice is very different and familiar at the same time," said Griffin. "She can go from a low sultry to a loud blues shout in one phrase. The range of songs that she is comfortable with is truly amazing. She is a real pro with an awesome talent."

Burke lives in Bell Buckle with a Husky-Shepard mix dog and, she says, "several vicious attack cats."

Burke will perform at the Bell Buckle Café on Saturday, Jan. 28th and at Ms. Brown's Country Diner in Beech Grove on Friday, Feb. 9.

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