It’s always nice to keep up with old friends, and for as long as I’ve been working in the entertainment media world of Nashville, Emma Hern has been a constant (and welcomed) presence. She’s gone from walking the floor at Kimbro’s in Franklin to featuring sets during Pilgrimage, and now, she’s made her way onto one of Nashville’s rites of passage - Music City Roots.
Admittedly, linking Hern and Music City Roots would not have necessarily been an obvious combination in my mind. To put it lightly, Music City Roots has the occasional ability to seem rather droll in nature, and at times, leave more to be desired from it’s performances. Emma, on the other hand, has never once left me feeling like so. Without fail, there are three certainties in life - death, taxes, and every single Emma Hern show outshining the last. Full stop. Not an overstatement.
Seriously, every single time I’ve had the opportunity to see Hern live, she’s done nothing short of hit her audience with a haymaker of a soul performance. Seriously, she is easily one of the heaviest hitters this side of the Cumberland Gap, and she’s only (relatively) just begun. Combine such a notion with the fact that Emma’s live shows typically tout some of the finest backing players in town - including members of Dynamo, as well as backing vocals from the incomparable Maureen Murphy and Jess Nolan (N/I alum!) - and you have yourself Nashville’s equivalent of appointment viewing. Or in other words, Music City Roots was about to be crushed by a wave of sound rarely witnessed upon its airwaves.
As expected, Emma and her consortium of soul players did exactly that. Being that Music City Roots is ostensibly the “Jim Lauderdale Variety Hour,” Hern and her crew were only given just enough time to run through five songs, among which included the exceptional “Love is Killing Me” off her self-titled debut EP. Needless to say, Hern’s presence certainly took the City Winery/Music City Roots crowd by surprise, but that was ultimately for the best, as a sonic injection of soul is almost always necessary for any sort of highly produced programming.
At the end of the day, it comes down to whatever Hern and her team set out to achieve and but whatever that may be, I’ve no doubt Hern will achieve it. I mean, virtually every goal Emma mentioned in her 2017 interview with Now/It’s has already been surpassed, most notably, in the realm of accruing a team of equally badass and empowered women to help keep the Emma Hern rise on an upward trajectory. I could try and describe such a fact further, but ultimately, it wouldn’t do near as much service than for it to come straight from source -
“So we’ve continued down that path, which has been really cool…. It’s been really fun just to be on an email thread of all girls. My manager - MC - has been amazing. It’s really cool. It’s really empowering when everybody that you’re working with on [the business] side of things is all women, because just like you and I talked about, it’s not always the case. It can definitely be a boys club, for better or for worse. And it’s also funny, because there’s always a girl who knows another girl, who knows another girl, and even with the release of the EP, most everything has been all girls. It’s been a waterfall effect of other women, which has been really empowering.”