A Jersey Girl’s Country-Music Career Takes Off

Hunterdon County native Emily Rose, now based in Nashville, released her seven-song EP, Wings, this August.

Emily Rose country music

Emily Rose was drawn to country music as a youngster in Hunterdon County. Courtesy of Katie Busby

Emily Rose Reilly first heard Shania Twain as a kindergartner in Hunterdon County. That inspired the youngster to perform Twain’s country hit, “Any Man of Mine,” at the school’s talent show. By age 14, Emily was singing in a Conway Twitty cover band; at 18, three months after graduating from Delaware Valley Regional High School, she headed to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. 

“Country music drew me in,” says the singer/songwriter, now 27. “I loved the storytelling, the instrumentation of steel and acoustic guitars.”

Growing up in Holland Township, Emily first picked up a guitar at age 13 and began to write songs. “It was natural,” she says, “and I never stopped.”

Once in Nashville, Reilly dropped her last name—she performs as Emily Rose—and found her footing as a singer in the local honky-tonks. “It took a while to figure out, Who am I? What do I want to say?” she recalls. “In the cultivation of myself, I found inspiration.”

[RELATED: Musician Richard Thompson Recounts Early Years in New Memoir]

She also found a style reminiscent of her idols, Twain and Linda Ronstadt. Emily writes about life, love and lessons learned. Her debut single, “My Way Home,” was released in 2019; a seven-song EP, Wings, arrived this month. “Wings reflects on the lessons I’ve learned about growth and friendships,” she says. A full album is due later this year. 

In Nashville, Emily also met her husband, Mike, a bass player. And while they live happily with their dogs in the music capital, she’s anxious—post-pandemic—to tour behind her new music.

“There’s no better feeling than connecting with music lovers face to face,” she says.

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