This is the second part of a two-part interview with country music singer-songwriter Emily West, who previously discussed her appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice.
After passing her Apprentice training with flying colors, Emily West continues her musical assault on the public's senses. On a stage filled with alpha males (Montgomery Gentry, Jamey Johnson, Jack Ingram), the effervescent West is bringing a frisky, feminine touch to the Country Throwdown Tour that rolls through America until June 20. Then her first full-length album is tentatively scheduled for a summer release, although her label, Capitol Nashville, has yet to announce an official release date.
West keeps making waves, though, with the single "Blue Sky," the touching song about the lives that were turned upside down by the divorce of her parents after 32 years of marriage. She co-wrote it with Gary Burr and recorded it with label mate Keith Urban, and the moving video finally cracked the Top 20 at Great American Country two weeks ago.
GAC also aired Introducing: Emily West at various times from May 20-22, and it will be shown again June 8-9. The half-hour special, which premiered earlier this year, takes her back to her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa and includes footage of her Grand Ole Opry debut. And not to be outdone, CMT offers a rerun of West's appearance last year on Celebrity Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? on June 12.
During an April 30 interview, West had an (almost always amusing) answer for everything, whether it was about the tour, the album she calls "my life story", her reality TV show career and her ability to literally make a great impression (impersonating Faith Hill, Cher or Britney Spears) on her audience. While her conversation is filled with laugh lines, though, West is taking this business seriously.
How do you see yourself fitting into this Country Throwdown Tour lineup?
"I'm gonna enjoy myself, definitely. Being around all these amazing musician boys. I'll probably do a lot of songwriting with them as well. I guess it's just .... I think a lot of guys that are gonna be coming to the show are gonna want to be seeing some estrogen (laughs)."
Are you breaking out any new impressions?
"You know what? If we have enough time, I could maybe do some impersonations onstage. But I only did that so I could, like, people would listen to me. If I could make people laugh on like the radio tour, so like, 'Hey, please listen to me. Hey, look it, I do Celine Dion. Hey, I do Taylor Dayne.' I'm kinda trying to work on my own stuff now. But if the spirit moves me, you never know what's gonna happen."
More challenging: The Celebrity Apprentice or Celebrity Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (where she appeared on September 25, 2009, winning $25,000 for her charity):
"What do you think? It's gonna be the Fifth Grader. Totally. Answering questions ... oh, gosh ... I'm not good with education. I'm good with being made over, but I'm not good with education. I can sit in a makeup chair and be redone but ... oh, my gosh! ... I think I broke out in hives, I was so nervous. I was on the plane and I was drinking gin and tonics and I was studying, you know, History for Dummies. And, oh my gosh, it just wore me out. And then I'm a huge fan of (show host and country comedian) Jeff Foxworthy (pictured with West), too. ... Like I don't want to say anything stupid and I really want to win for my charity, which then was the Alzheimer's Foundation of America."
Do you have an interest in being in another reality show?
"Of course. I feel like I'm kinda The Last of the Mohicans as far as artists that have made it, like, old school. You move to town, you start writing songs, you get your record in order. ... You don't really have a reality show to make or break you. ... You never know how you can get your record sold these days. I think that kind of approach is a really smart thing to do. Now, would I risk my artistry just to get famous? Absolutely not. I just think it's not really my style. ... I definitely love to laugh, I love to run errands and be silly and stupid. I'm sure a camera on me would be somewhat hilarious to the viewers. But I think some things should be kept private. Then again, ask me tomorrow (laughs). I might change my mind."
Your West Side Stories (webisodes seen on AOL Music) are kinda along those lines. What's more entertaining: West Side Story or West Side Stories?
"Probably the movie. Because I don't compare myself with ... um, um, oh gosh, what's his name, the cute boy in the movie? Like all the dancing. I've been obsessed with the movie. I don't even know why it's titled West Side Stories. ... I guess it is because my name is West. But West Side Stories is kinda competing, hellooo, with (singing) West Side Story."
After some false starts, your album is scheduled to be released this summer. Amazon.com is taking pre-orders and lists an August 10 release date (which a Capitol representative calls only a placeholder). Is that official?
"Really? Thank God, I'll have a date to tell people. That's awesome. Sure, August 10, just put that down. Maybe it'll come true."
It's been a while in the making, hasn't it?
"It has. And, you know, a lot of the fans are like, 'Man, you said that last year, that it was gonna be out.' I don't want any of the fans to be disappointed. I've just been kinda going on ... what record is gonna allow you to know who I am enough to buy it? ... We haven't really had that single yet to really get up through the charts. So (the delay has) been a blessing. And I'm so thankful for my ride as far as how long it's taken. Because if it weren't for this long ride, I never would have had Keith Urban on 'Blue Sky.' So I'm very thankful for that."
Other than touring, what will you do to count down the days to the release?
"I'll be working on the perfect pin curl probably and writing more songs."
• Photo credit: Barry Holmes
Here's the official video of Emily West's "Blue Sky"
Follow Michael Bialas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mjbialas