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Detroit Lakes teen releases first album

Emma Wood, 14, is hosting a CD release party for her first CD, ?Happy.? It is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 20, in Speak Easy at 7 p.m. She will perform at the party as well.

At not quite 15 years old, Emma Wood has just released her first album. Its title, Happy, seems only too appropriate for the ever-smiling teenager, who will be a freshman at Detroit Lakes High School this fall.

"She was always singing," said Rhonda Wood, Emma's mother, of her daughter's younger years. Rhonda has been a pivotal support in her daughter's musical aspirations.

"I just sung a lot to myself," Emma agreed. "My mom works with Kathy (Larson), and she said, 'Do you want to do voice lessons?' so I did."

For the last seven years, Emma has worked with DLHS's choir instructor to hone her vocal skills, which she has displayed in several musicals Larson has directed, including Peter Pan and Les Miserables.

A few years back, a friend suggested that the Woods contact Tim Eggebraaten for further musical guidance.

"They said he might have some knowledge and information on how to get started," Rhonda said, adding with a smile, "and he did."

"He just came over and we started singing," Emma added, laughing.

Since then, Emma has sung with Eggebraaten at many of the parties, concerts and other events he performs at.

"I do a lot of gigs with him," Emma said, adding that he "tags along" to play guitar and sing backup when she performs, as well.

When it came time to think about making a CD, Eggebraaten's expertise was, in a word, instrumental.

"He found all the musicians and got them to volunteer their time," Rhonda said.

Mike Hokanson, John Hutchinson, Ben Milner, Holly Dutton and Rich Johnson joined Eggebraaten in providing a background to accompany Emma's voice. The recording process took about six months to complete.

"He helped a lot on the CD," Emma said, "and sang on a lot of the songs."

Happy is made up of a variety of cover songs, including tunes by Elton John, The Beatles and Guns N' Roses. Emma, however, is earnest to begin writing her own music.

She recently started to teach herself how to play the guitar, and will soon begin taking lessons with Hutchinson.

"I want to write my own stuff really bad," she said. "That's why I'm picking it up."

Emma has also given consideration to starting her own band.

"I sang with a couple different bands, like SLOG," she said, and then added, "I have a lot of friends who are musically talented, but we're still really young for that."

Despite her age, Emma's accomplishments are already impressive. She has sung in the Colgate Country Showdown three times, and is competing again this year. Having already won the local and regional titles, Emma will sing in the state division later this month. If she wins, she will move on to the contest in Nashville.

Although Emma will "definitely continue" to sing and perform, it's only one of her many interests.

"I'm very interested in volleyball, and I'm also a basketball player and I'm in track," she said, mentioning that volleyball and singing were her top two activities.

"And she rides horse," her mother added. "She used to show (horses), but she just doesn't have time anymore," Rhonda said with a laugh.

Between school, sports, performing and just being a teenager, Emma is certainly busy, but the grin never seems to leave her face.

"While I'm (singing), that's what I want to do," she said, "and I love it so much."

To witness Emma's enthusiasm and incredible vocal talent, check out her CD Release Party at the Speak Easy on Thursday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. Emma, who will perform at the party, is already thrilled with anticipation.

"It's a big day," she said. "I can't wait -- I'm so excited."

Her CDs will soon be for sale at Central Market, The Sound Shop and The Pines in Perham. It will hopefully become available in local coffee shops, as well.

If you have an event you'd like Emma to sing at, you can call her at home at 847-9512.

Detroit Lakes is sure to see -- and hear -- amazing things from this local up-and-comer...but right now, she's got to finish up driver's ed.