Hometown favorite gives command performance
A clapping ovation could be heard emanating from Ford’s Garage outdoor seating area during the June Fort Myers Music Walk, as “House of the Rising Sun” is being played across the street.
Onlookers walking past instantly turned their heads, stopped and listened dead in their tracks.
Those familiar sightings of onlookers with big smiles on their faces during the popular Music Walk in Downtown Fort Myers could mean only one thing – the return of musical prodigy Emelise Munoz.
Now at the ripe old age of 10-years-old, Emelise wowed music fans with her high-energy and ukulele-playing songs, performing them in such places as on the streets during Music Walk and in the beach square area at Fort Myers Beach.
But the music by Emelise went silent last summer, after her family moved to Boulder, Colo., where her parents, Brian and Valerie Munoz, took jobs in the Boulder School District.
Luckily for fans and people who never had the chance to experience her performances, the Munoz’ still own their house in Cape Coral and made it back in June for a family vacation. So there was no question that Emelise was going back to her old stomping grounds and put on another popular and fun show.
“I love Florida!” Emelise proclaimed in the microphone during the June 16 Music Walk. “Thank you for having me again!”
Over the course of the last year, Emelise’s young musical career has blossomed in Colorado.
She has played four times with nationally known Emi Sunshine, who has opened for such acts as Willie Nelson and has played the Grand Ole’ Opry 13 times.
The young duo, even took to the streets of Denver one night, to play where Emelise has now conquered as a street performer.
“People in the street had no idea what they were walking past,” Brian Munoz laughed. “The two girls have become very good friends and playing with someone as big as Emi, doesn’t faze Emelise at all.”
But Emelise is making a name for herself in the Boulder, Denver and Veil area, as well.
She plays on the popular Pearl Street, where she draws crowds of 50-100 at times. While performing on a Veil street one night, a couple who were adoring her, ended up offering her a job.
“They came up to me and said she has to play at their wedding cocktail hour at the Omni Resort (in Veil),” Brian said. “Em was pretty excited to hear that.”
Another gig Emelise landed is at the Boulder International Film Festival, which is a Red Carpet event and draws such big names as Alec Baldwin.
A story which Brian loves to tell is the night Emelise was playing in a microbrewery called “Twisted Pine Brewing Co.” for the first time. The house was full with several different Christmas parties going on, as well.
“When she started playing ‘House of the Rising Sun,’ the entire building went quiet, you could hear a pin drop,” Brian said. “After Emelise was done playing, the owner walked up to her and said, ‘I’ve owned this place for over 20 years, and that’s the best memory I have now.’ That was pretty cool.”
It’s not just the new venues Emelise is playing in which has expanded her musical horizons, but she is also learning how to write songs. She made a debut of her song, “Missing You,” during her return to the Fort Myers Music Walk on June 16.
“I wrote that song for my best friend Kaylee Lambert, who still lives in Cape Coral (and who was in the crowd to hear it),” Emelise said. “I wrote it to dedicate to her.”
Her first song she ever wrote was a couple of years ago, called “Papa.”
“I wrote that one when I was visiting Illinois and I was away from (Brian) for a while,” Emelise said. “I wrote it when I wasn’t near him and that we should see each other more.”
She describes her songs as more country and a process in which she has fun with.
“It’s really, really fun,” she said. “When I write songs, I have at least three verses and two choruses, then I will scat and use finger picking. There’s a lot of variety to it.”
Emelise has also added at least another 15 cover songs to her ever-growing list. She estimates she has learned at least 100 different songs to date.
Another song she sings during her two to three-hour performances, is an Emi Sunshine song, called “Bobbing in the Sea.”
“I play three to four times a week,” Emelise said. “I just want to soak it all up!”
With her growing savings account in which she builds by people giving her tips, along with some of the early gigs she has earned, Emelise is not only saving for college, but is adding to her instrument collection.
“She bought herself a very nice amp,” Brian said. “Her voice has improved so much from a year ago, that it carries so much better, she has such great range now.”
Emelise’s future goal is to play in a band, but also keeping it in the family.
“My younger brother, Evan, is learning how to play the ukulele and when my youngest brother, Carter, gets a little older, we’ll have him learn the drums,” Emelise said.
Even though Emelise is still a solo act, her fan base is no longer limited to the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area. Instead it has expanded halfway across the United States, to where Colorado fans now know exactly the joy a little, but talented, 10-year- old bundle of energy can bring to the music world.