some text
Contributed Photo by Alan Messer / EmiSunshine, a 16-year-old Americana artist from Madisonville, Tenn., recently completed a project with a diverse cross-section of musicians, including funk master Bootsy Collins, with whom she co-wrote the lyrics for "Stars."

EmiSunshine didn't really know how big a deal Bootsy Collins is until the man who put much of the funk in P-Funk asked her to co-write a song with him and then record it with a few other artists.

The Americana artist from Madisonville, Tennessee, who turned 16 on June 8, said she knew of Collins, of course, and that she also had heard of banjoist Bela Fleck and bassist Victor Wooten, who also appear on the new song "Stars." As she learns more about her fellow musicians on the project, the more honored she feels to have been asked to perform with them.

"It is something that doesn't happen very often, and I feel very honored to get to work with Bootsy and to have them sing my song," she said.

The song and video were created to benefit the Recording Academy's MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. The fund provides "critical funds that can directly support music people in need," according to its website.

If You Go

* What: EmiSunshine

* Where: Songbirds South, 35 Station St.

* When: 7 p.m., Friday, June 19

* Admission: $20-$25

Other guests include political activist Dr. Cornel West, sax master P. "Chew Fu" Kardolus, R&B singer Uche' Ndubizu, drummer Steve Jordan, blues artist Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, jazz/R&B pianist Brian Culbertson, R&B group Az Yet, Cuban artist Olvido Ruiz and "Afro groove" percussionist Manou Gallo.

"I first heard about Bootsy and then looked him up and then it was, 'Oh, he is a really cool dude. He is amazing'" she said during an interview with The What Podcast. To hear the interview, visit

The song was released June 12, and EmiSunshine, as Emilie Sunshine Hamilton is known professionally, will perform Friday, June 19, at Songbirds South. The show was originally booked for earlier this year in the smaller Songbirds North, but was moved, like most of her shows, because of the coronavirus. Songbirds music buyer Mike Dougher said the show will be "the first of many double bills" he has planned for the coming months at the venue at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

"She will do the 7-8:30 slot, and the guys from Lenox Hills will play after," Dougher said. "We can spread people out downstairs."

The EmiSunshine show is also the first show at Songbirds since things started opening back up that doesn't feature local musicians. Dougher said he is especially looking forward to it.

"I am just such a fan of young people coming along and being so great," he said. "She is so talented."

some text
Contributed photo by Michael Weintrob / Legendary musician Bootsy Collins joined forces with EmiSunshine and several other musicians including Bela Fleck and Victor Wooten on "Stars," a song and video created to benefit the Recording Academy's MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Collins has said in interviews that when the pandemic shut things down, he was near completion of a new album. Forced to redirect his energies, he decided to finish a song he'd started years ago. Because he and EmiSunshine were scheduled to be on the same festival when things were shut down, he asked her to be a part of the project.

The two spent time texting and teleconferencing, with Collins sharing ideas for the lyrics, which she then put to paper. She said the song is very much of the moment, but not entirely about the moment.

"That was the hardest part," she said. "I feel like the song in a way can apply to a lot of things. It's an uplifting song. We can get through this. It's going to get better at some point."

Collins is perhaps best known for his bass playing with George Clinton in Parliament/Funkadelic, and for co-writing their hit "Tear the Roof Off the Sucker," but he also played with James Brown, the Talking Heads and many others.

EmiSunshine began singing at age 5, when she also wrote her first song. Born into a family of musicians and writers, she has been performing professionally since she was 8. She performed here at Riverbend when she was 9.

She's made several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, so she isn't easily intimidated, but admits to feeling a little extra pressure to deliver solid lyrics and performance.

"I was a little bit worried about what the outcome would be," she said. "But it was really cool. I was happy with the way the words turned out. I took what Bootsy was saying and wrote the song."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.

More Info

To watch the video of “Stars,” to go