Miss Emily makes splashy Maple Blues awards debut

Native Milfordian Miss Emily performs at Picton's Regent Theatre this summer. Also known in these parts as Emily Fennell, the artist is nominated for three 2019 Maple Blues awards. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

Not that she needs it in the eyes of her thousands of fans from Prince Edward County, Kingston and elsewhere but Miss Emily and her career have received a serious dose of validation.

The local songstress and Milford native has been nominated for three major Maple Blues awards.

Miss Emily is up for 2019 Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year after being selected by the Maple Blues Awards Nominations Panel for her outstanding achievements in blues music in Canada over the past year.

“I’m just so happy,” she told the Gazette Monday. “People usually clap after we’ve done our job industry so that feels nice but being recognized like this is another level and it feels so good.”

Miss Emily (Fennell) grew up in Milford and now lives in Kingston and has been performing and recording music for the last two decades. She got her start locally  with a gig singing at the Waring House at the tender age of 17.

This past summer was Miss Emily’s best in terms of hitting the festival circuit and was all thanks to great appearance at a key blues showcase event in February. Fennell was asked to be part of the performing act showcase at Blues Summit Nine, the pre-eminent Canadian blues music gathering with industry professionals, festival organizers, etc. from all over Canada and the world.

“I was invited to be a part of the showcase by theToronto Blues Society who organize the event,” she said.

She explained after 20 years of fighting her way out of the musical wood work, she and her management team were pragmatic about the event and the opportunity that was presenting itself.

“We prepared and we were ready to meet as many people as we could before and after the 25 minute set,” Miss Emily said. 

The music was true and her look and stage presence was more than enough to precipitate a steady stream of calls for bookings.

“We booked a ton off festivals this summer, playing from Nanaimo, BC to Fredericton, NB,” she said. “Every weekend, we were hitting it hard and I got to see so many new and different audiences from all over Canada that I had never experienced before.”

The end of the season’s run in September, Fennell was feeling the love and enjoying the buzz as Canadian blues fans were starting to pick up what she was laying down.

“By the time we got to September, you could definitely pick up on the fact people knew who I was and they had heard of me and there was some really positive stuff being said each and every weekend,” Fennell said.

There has been an evolution of the artist Miss Emily but she comes by her soul-infused instrument honestly, growing up with her father’s Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin records as part of her musical upbringing. But country gospel from the likes of BJ Thomas was also part of the that musical acumen’s development.

“That’s what I was raised on and the opportunities for performing back then were anthems at the hockey games and the church circuit,” she said with a laugh.

While that soul in her voice has always been evident, it’s through the natural progression of time and Fennell’s ability to feel more comfortable in her own skin and dictate her own musical direction that’s produced a sound fans are taking to.

As well music industry leaders as evidenced by her three Maple Blues award nominations. 

While she is over the moon to be nominated as female vocalist of the year and new artist of the year, Miss Emily was blown away by her nod as entertainer of the year.

“There I am with Downchild Blues Band who are celebrating their 50th year of touring and it’s just amazing. I can’t even wrap my head around that one,” she said.

Now nominated, Miss Emily is counting on her fans to make their voices heard as the awards are determined through online voting.

To support Prince Edward County’s own Miss Emily, please visit www.mapleblues.ca/Register.aspx and cast your ballot.