EMILY WEST SINGS FOR HOME CROWD
By Katie Marker
Iowa born Emily West came home to perform to a crowd of locals that might know the name, but not all of the songs. As a finalist on the 2014 season of “America’s Got Talent”, West has continued her successful career by subsequently being signed to Sony Master Works © and sharing her many talents with those who know her from her television debut.
Born and raised in Waterloo, IA, West chased her dreams straight out of high school and and all the way to Nashville, TN. Singing, songwriting and being signed to Capitol Records Nashville © at the time. After a few hits and a few tunes that couldn’t top the charts, she took another chance at stardom by heading to NYC to try her luck at the nation’s talent show, “America’s Got Talent”.
West opened her set with an acapella version of, “How Much I love You.” Simple and elegant the stage was set with a Steinway and Sons © grand piano and a guitar, accompanied by singer and songwriter K.S. Rhoades. They both shared stories of songwriting together, and then shared the songs with the crowd. Rhoades himself actually has a song titled, “I Am Who I Am Because You Are Who You Are” that will be debuting next week in an iPhone commercial. Solo and on the piano he shared this unheard tune and remained humble as the crowd appreciated his work.
West sang a handpicked selection of songs off of her recent album, “All For You”. Notable tunes were, “Fallen” in which she displayed her powerful vocals alongside her uniquely smooth and rich tone she carries. She also covered, Roy Orbison’s, “You Got It” in a much slower tempo than the original, but one that made it her own in a classic and stylistic way. She also included “Nights in White Satin” which was originally heard on, “America’s Got Talent”. Her cover of, “Chandelier” also made the list, to which she had young girls join her on stage to dance with her, and get a taste of the spotlight themselves. “Bitter”, which is also on that current CD, stood out to me as a new favorite as she talks about a bad relationship and how it ended has left a bad taste with her. Glancing at her setlist as Rhoades began to play the next song, she mused with him, trying to remember what was next. After he hinted and she remembered, she absolutely wanted to continue on with the next cover song, which was a tribute to the late Prince. She makes mention that she painted her nails purple, again, and that the world lost a true musical genius. She then sang Prince’s, “Nothing Compares to You” to a silent and still audience. I’ve heard many covers of Prince songs in the last few days, but her angelic version made this song sound as if she were an angel herself singing it directly to him, and the onlookers appreciated the sentiment.
Before the show, as the lights lowered a voice came over the theatre instructing the house rules, emphasising no pictures or videos. While West was on the stage, she invited the crowd to take photos and videos, joking that even though the man’s voice before the show told us not to take pictures or video, “they looked and sounded good, so go ahead and take photos, post them with hashtags and don’t forget the filter! There has to be a filter!”
West then asked the crowd if there were any country music fans in the audience, and to delightful response she and Rhoades began Johnny Cash’s hit, “Ring of Fire”. After that song she thanked the crowd for all of their support, as one night in Nashville at one of the local bars she was singing a song called, “Gloriana” and she had prayed that one day she’d be able to sing that song in a theatre or an auditorium instead of just in a local bard, and after all of her hard work, there she was, in a theatre singing the song. She said God answered her prayers and she was very proud and happy to be able to sing that song there for the fans that evening.
West began to close her show, telling the crowd that she was a huge fan of Judy Garland and “The Wizard of Oz”. That was followed by her and Rhoades accompanying her on guitar with the song, “If I only had a brain”. She then went into, “Somewhere over the Rainbow” from the famous movie. Embarrassed for a moment that she forgot some of the words, she took a moment, the crowd cheered her on, and soon she was singing it again as if she didn’t miss a beat. This was the last song of the set, before she came out to do a brief encore of one of the songs she wrote called, “Rainbow”. As they were done for the evening the applause grew louder and strong and a few fans yelled, “One more! One more!” She heard this, turned around, grabbed her mic quickly and instantly jumped into an a capella version of, “Amazing Grace”. The fans sang along and stood for the final song of the evening. She exited with grace and met with fans of all ages after the show, signing autographs until the last fan left.
Emily West brings a nostalgia and grace to the stage that can only be replicated by her. Her thick and rich tones in her voice, along with the power she can put behind her voice make her a unique staple in the music world. A class act, one who can play in any city, theatre, or auditorium and she remains as humble and thankful as they come from small town Iowa. She hasn’t forgotten her roots, and she never will.