Artists to Watch #9
It is widely recognized that achieving prominence on the grandest stages demands steadfast commitment to practice, a principle that Emily Ann Roberts personifies. From her initial performances on modest stages in Knoxville to her repeated appearances at the revered Grand Ole Opry, Roberts has assiduously carved out her niche in the music industry. Her auspicious beginnings were marked by her time on Blake Shelton’s team on The Voice, an accomplishment she attained prior to her high school graduation. Throughout her burgeoning career, she has amassed a plethora of experience in live performance, songwriting, and recording. Her industrious work ethic has culminated in more than 35 million music streams, thereby cementing her reputation as a notable musical talent. After nearly a decade of growth and persistent effort, she received an invitation from her mentor, Shelton, to join his 2024 “Back to the Honky Tonk Tour” spanning 17 dates. Reputable industry publications such as CMT, Country Now, Music Mayhem Magazine, and All Country News have recognized her as a promising artist to watch in the year 2024. Additionally, she has been honored as one of CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2024.
Roberts’s upbringing in Knoxville, Tennessee, was steeped in the musical traditions of the Smoky Mountains, bluegrass, and country artists spanning multiple eras, including Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, and Cody Johnson. These influences have equipped her with the necessary foundation to instill a sense of authenticity back into country music.
What began as a childhood pastime—rendering performances at local fairs, festivals, and talent competitions—ultimately evolved into her life’s mission. “Music has always been an integral part of my existence; however, it was the profound impact of music that revealed my true calling,” Roberts recounts. She recalls the compelling experience of witnessing how music retained its presence in her grandmother’s memory even amidst her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. This realization about the enduring nature of music firmly shaped Roberts’s dedication to her craft and artistic pursuits.
Since that moment of clarity, Roberts has devoted her life to nurturing the musical talents bestowed upon her and mastering the art of songwriting, vocal performance, and live presentation. Roberts articulates, “My fervor lies in the sphere of entertainment. While my love for singing is unquestionable, songwriting is primarily a tool that enables me to bring those compositions to life on stage.”
Roberts attributes a significant portion of her musical development to the numerous live performances she witnessed. “Regardless of whether I am participating in a tour or among the audience, I strive to absorb every aspect of these seasoned artists’ stagecraft,” she says. Her key takeaway from these experiences is the importance of authenticity: “The essence of Emily Ann Roberts cannot be replicated, which instills a level of confidence rarely observed in emerging artists. I am not obliged to emulate anyone but myself, and that genuine self-expression is what resonates with audiences. Therefore, I am indebted to each tour experience for the invaluable lessons imparted.”
When not performing, Roberts can often be found engaging in songwriting sessions within Nashville, collaborating with Trent Willmon—a producer renowned for his work with artists like Cody Johnson and Kevin Fowler. Seven years of refining her songwriting in Nashville have noticeably enhanced her musical style. “As I review my new songs, I discern a more mature sound that reflects a firmer understanding of my identity. Upon my arrival in Nashville at 17, the music industry’s landscape was an enigma to me. Initially, there was a push to mold my sound to mirror that of others. Yet, it was not until I embraced my instincts that my music began to bear the hallmarks of sincerity—traits I admire in both Johnson and Lambert,” she explains, citing their influence on encouraging her genuine musical approach.
Now, Emily Ann Roberts stands at a juncture where her musical expression and artistic identity are crystal clear. Her emergence marks a promising future for the genre of country music.
Her unique background and diverse musical influences are apparent in her debut album, Can’t Hide Country, released in September 2023. The album, recorded at Starstruck Studios in Nashville under the direction of GRAMMY-winning producer Trent Willmon, has received broad admiration for its lyrical authenticity and Roberts’s outstanding vocal ability.
Drawing upon the rich mosaic of her personal and professional experiences, Roberts co-wrote 12 of the 13 tracks on Can’t Hide Country. This oeuvre offers a glimpse into her world, capturing the vicissitudes of her journey and her evolving perspective as an artist and individual. The album represents a seamless blend of timeless country sounds with a modern touch, highlighting the essence of the genre while showcasing her unique artistic voice.
In her evocative ballad “Devil Wears Denim,” from her debut album, Roberts employs traditional folk-country instrumentation to narrate the story of a man whose angelic semblance belies his true nature. The song was co-written by Roberts, her producer Trent Willmon, and Autumn McEntire.
Label: Starstruck Entertainment
Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee
Current City: Nashville, Tennessee
Hot Release (s): “Devil Wears Denim”; “He Set Her Off”; “Whole Lotta Little”
Musical Influences: Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Cody Johnson
If You Like: Lauren Alaina, Abby Anderson, Hailey Whitters
KEEP UP WITH EMILY ANN ROBERTS: www.emilyannroberts.com Facebook.com/EmilyAnnRobertsMusic www.youtube.com/@EmilyannRoberts Instagram/TikTok/X: @EmilyAnn_Music