Tividale's Emily Badger finding fame via local club circuits - unsigned column
When you're a fledgling singer like Tividale's Emily Badger, being able to slap the words 'award-winning' on you social media bios and press releases can do the world of good.
The 19-year-old University of Wolverhampton student is celebrating two wins this year on the local club circuits - an often-overlooked avenue of experience building and reputation growing for musicians looking to make a name for themselves in the region.
Badger, who is in the second year of her accounting and finance course, started singing on the Midland counties circuit a little over 12 months ago and has been awarded 'best newcomer 2019'.
She has also just won Worcester Entertainment Council's 'best female artist 2019' award. And in April Badger won the Austin Longbridge Birmingham’s 'search for a star 2019' competition.
"I feel overwhelmed winning the awards," she tells The Star. "I sing because I enjoy it, so to be recognised for an award is just an amazing feeling.
"I’ve been singing on the club circuit for around a year now and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves to sing and is looking to make a career out of singing. All the clubs I have performed at are so welcoming and it’s nice to meet a variety of different people every week."
The former Birmingham Ormiston Academy musical theatre pupil is a member of the Midland, Worcester, South Staffordshire and Birmingham Entertainment Councils and sings all over the Midlands on the club circuits each week.
The listings for both Midland and South Staffs clubs can be found every Friday in the Express & Star newspaper to keep an eye out for her.
"I go to university during the week, then on the weekend I perform at venues across the West Midlands, Worcester, South Staffordshire and Birmingham areas," she adds of her busy schedule.
And this column will not be the first time Badger has appeared in the pages of the Express & Star either - as well as those listings of course.
As a young teenager, she performed on the pitch at West Bromwich Albion's The Hawthorns home in front of thousands of fans more than once.
She sang the club’s fans’ anthem – Psalm 23, The Lord’s My Shepherd – before the Baggies played Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Chelsea and Newcastle over a couple of seasons.
"I sang at The Hawthorns quite a few times at a young age and became like a mascot to the club," she continues. "Someone spotted me at St Michaels High School when I was singing in the music department.
"Singing at the football ground, in front of 25,000 people, gave me a lot of confidence."
Emily also reached the area finals in the national Open Mic UK competition in 2013, performing at Birmingham's NEC in a bid to reach the national finals at London’s O2 Arena – showing she was getting recognised even at such a young age.
Last month, she performed in a slightly different setting at Cradley Heath Sports & Social Club alongside fellow circuit mainstays JMS as part of her regular appearances on the scene.
Taking place on October 25, all four performed together on-stage in what her mother and spokesperson Debbie Copson described as "a sell-out" show.
"It was a fantastic night," Ms Copson added. "Emily did two sets and so did JMS, then they all sang together at the end.
"The next show they are doing together is on December 20 - a Christmas party special at Spring Meadow Social Club, also in Cradley Heath. Tickets are £5 and children go free. It starts at 8pm and all are welcome."
And away from the club circuit is also productive for Badger currently. Through social media she landed a role in the interesting-sounding musical Catfish, which was largely crafted over Twitter.
"So happy to be a part of this exciting new musical playing Jess," she posted on the social network. "Well done [writer] @aunty_willy the music I’ve been sent sounds amazing."
She also said: "I’m officially OBSESSED with the music from @Catfish_Musical, especially one song I’m lucky enough to be recording soon. I'm driving my family insane singing it round the house. Cannot wait for the rehearsals and to meet everyone in a few weeks' time."
The play's own Twitter bio describes it as "a one-act contemporary show exploring modern dating and the crazy world of social media". And writer Willy Mukendi also posted online: "[It's] a show about social media, vocally cast on social media and written entirely on social media. I and [co-writer Joseph Purdue] have never met.
"So overwhelmed with all the love and support. The people singing are sensational, all my love for them."
And it does transcend out of the World Wide Web into the real world too, with the rising star soon to head down to the Big Smoke to officially record material for it.
"I have an exciting new project that I have been picked to work on which does involve me going down to London to record for a concept album, but that’s all I can say about that for now," she teases us, before pointing everyone in the direction of her social media channels - of course - to keep up to date with everything going on.
"I would just say look out on my social media platforms for any news and my weekly schedule for where I am performing," she adds.
So maybe we should.
For more on Emily Badger, visit her Facebook and Instagram pages, both @EmilyBadgerMusic, as well as her Twitter: @Emily00xox - her performances, including the recent show with JMS in Cradley Heath, can be seen on her YouTube channel.