Bloomington singer-songwriter Emily Hope is bullish on her sunny outlook and a sense of hope. Matter of fact, the first line in her online bio reads “ … a smiley 23-year-old singer/songwriter, guitarist, and ukulele player.”
“The whole vibe of Emily Hope music is to bring hope and joy through my music," she said during a recent visit to WGLT. “People that know me, know me by being smiley and joyful. That’s the message I want to share with my audience.”
Hope is one of many scheduled to perform this weekend in uptown Normal as part of the two-day Make Music Normal Festival.
She even has a song titled “S-M-I-L-E.”
“I usually just say ‘smile’ because spelling it out can be a mouthful,” said Hope. “But in the song, it spells it out.”
I’d like to introduce you to my friend
It’s been too long
Don’t you agree?
- From ““S-M-I-L-E” by Emily Hope
Hope said that strong sense of hope and optimism comes from her strong belief in Jesus Christ, even if most of her songs aren’t explicitly religious. She said she doesn’t believe a “Christian” song doesn’t need those explicit references.
“I think when most people hear the word ‘Jesus’ they’re automatically turned away from it (the song). But if I can get to someone through, say, my song ‘S-M-I-L-E’, it just shows them that little piece of hope and maybe that brings them toward Jesus someday,” said Hope.
A shy pre-teen who characterized herself at that time as feeling “invisible,” Hope said friends nudged her to use music as a form of expression.
“That kind of got me our of my shyness and brought me some hope for my life and what I have to offer,” said Hope, who added writing has always been about being inspirational, but also wants to dig below the sunny surface on occasion.
“A couple songs, like ‘Talking’ or ‘Whispers’ get you to think about what I’m saying. So on the outside it’s happy, but when you look at the lyrics you realize, ‘Oh, she’s talking about this deep subject,’” said Hope.
Don’t you have something else to do
Than talk about what isn’t true
But your laughter tells me
You’re having fun
- From “Whispers” by Emily Hope
Hope’s most recent single is titled “Better.” Unlike most of her songs which are uke and acoustic based, “Better” has a more modern sound with enhanced production values. But the below-the-surface message is still there.
When were you going to tell me
There was nothing there
When you held me and kissed me softly
Brushing my hair
- From “Better” by Emily Hope
“I wanted to experiment (musically) with that song. I worked with my studio guy Oliver Johnson, who recently moved to Nashville. That’s been tough to get with him lately. But the song has some anger in it. It kind of showcases I’m not happy all the time,” laughed Hope.
“It comes from a real, broken place I’ve been through personally and I think people can relate to it. Especially women … it’s kind of a shoutout to the ladies song,” said Hope.
During her time with WGLT, she also talked about “Fathers Song,” an ode to her father for inspiring her both personally and musically, and the song “Always,” which she said is a message to her friends on how she would like to be with them.
I will always miss you
More than you miss me
I will always be watching
You can see
- From “Always” by Emily Hope
“I want to always be there for my friends,” said Hope. “I want to make sure that they know I’m there. But people can take that however they want. It could be a friend or romantic relationship. It could even be a godly relationship in that god is always here for us, watching what we can’t see, always waiting for us, he’s always there.”
Emily Hope plays the uptown Normal Roundabout at 4:15 p.m. Saturday as part of the Make Music Normal Festival.
People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.