Spirit of the Swanee Music ParkSPIRIT OF THE SUWANNEE MUSIC PARK, LIVE OAK, FLA – She may be little, but she’s loud and talented – and she’s the 2009 Colgate County Showdown North Florida finalist Emily Brooke! “I just love performing,” Emily said later after it had sunk in that she will be representing North Florida in the state finals Oct. 25 in Pensacola.

Colby Craig of Lake City was named first runner-up in the NF competition.

The event was sponsored by WQHL 98.1 and the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Kevin Thomas, WQHL radio

Emily Brooke 2009 Colgate County Showdown North Florida finalist

Emily Brooke 2009 Colgate County Showdown North Florida finalist

personality, was the emcee for the exciting event. Thomas was also the emcee last year for not only the North Florida events, but the state finals as well.

Before a packed audience of friends, family and well-wishers who came to cheer on 16 finalists July 17 at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, this little strawberry-blond stick of dynamite from Wellington, Florida took the stage near the end of the first round of competition. The audience was silent – how could a child that young have the type talent the judges were looking for? But, by the time she had wowed them with her singing, her infectious smile, her guitar playing and her stage presence, the audience was cheering and clapping loudly for her. Well, here’s the rest of the story. When she returned for her second set of the night, it was apparent this little lady has what it takes. The judges didn’t take long after the competition ended to name her the winner. “When I heard them call my name I was very excited!” Emily said. “It was kind of late after the show so I didn’t get to call any of my friends,” Emily said in a phone interview. “The next day I called some of them and they said ‘Congratulations!” and ‘That’s great!’”

Knowing she could move on to the national finals if she wins just two more times has Emily overjoyed. “I’m just dying to go the Ryman Auditorium and Nashville! Tennessee is a good place to be!” She should know – she and her family visited there recently for the CMA fan week activities, spending the night on the streets in line to see Taylor Swift the next morning. It wasn’t exactly a quiet night…Emily was asked to sing instead of paying for a magazine about Taylor Swift and that had the more than 600 people in line cheering and asking for more. The next several hours Emily was a street performer, playing guitar and singing by request while her mom watched in amazement. The next day, she performed for Taylor Swift’s mother!

Emily said she believes she gets her musical ability from both parents. Her dad played guitar during high school and occasionally plays in their hometown. “I’ve been singing since I was three and in my car seat!” Emily points out when asked about her talent. “We are always riding along singing and doing air guitar!” this soon-to-be fifth grader laughs.

Only eight months ago, she began performing publicly at the Hurricane Grill and Wings in Royal Palm Beach every Saturday night. Emily had only taken guitar lessons for about a year and a half from Mark Boreffi of Boomers Music in Wellington when Boreffi asked her to join him every Saturday night at the Hurricane for his show and do her own 30 minute set, singing and playing guitar! Performing is now in Emily’s blood! Emily’s mother said owner Robert Clark told Emily’s dad he could come over and play his guitar there anytime he wanted, but he had to bring Emily along! Due their daughter’s newfound performance popularity, her mother said she and Emily’s dad are now comfortable just being referred to as “Emily’s parents!”

There’s nothing Emily likes better than getting before a crowd to entertain. When it’s her turn on stage, she takes ownership of the stage, smiling that charming smile while she wraps the audience around her little finger!

That charm, coupled with her amazing talent, could help her to win the state competition where she would receive $1,000 and go on to the regional competition. Regional winners go to Nashville in January of 2010 where they will vie for the coveted Best New Act in Country Music title and a $100,000 check!

Last year’s state winner, Johnny Bulford of Orlando, won the state title at the SOSMP and went on to win the national competition and a $100,000 check!

For more information about the SOSMP, more exciting upcoming events like the huge, sanctioned BBQ Festival this weekend, July 24-25 with a Spotlight on Local Talent July 24 and David Cooler “The Dog Hunt Man” July 25, Michal Bailey and A Night of Detroit Blues Aug. 7, The RedCoats Beatles’ Tribute Aug. 8 and Colt Ford Show Aug. 28 with Johnny Bulford, go to www.musicliveshere.com or call the SOSMP at 386-364-1683. We’ll be looking for ya’ll!