Pursuing A Passion

FONDA – The heart of country came to the Fonda Fair on Wednesday through the voice of a local 14-year-old girl.

Emily Barker of Ephratah performed a variety of country songs by artists such as Patsy Cline and Pam Tillis with her Heart of Country show.

She worked with the crowd, walking around the performing area while singing to people young and old.

Barker said she began singing in public at age 6 by performing at the Fonda Fair in the karaoke tent.

“Basically, karaoke kind of started me out,” Barker said.

In eight short years, Barker has been building her singing portfolio, leading her to her own solo performance at Fonda.

At last year’s fair, she got a chance to perform a song at the fair with the band Skeeter Creek.

She has also placed at several singing and karaoke competitions. This year, Barker won runner-up at the Bug Country Showdown at the Herkimer County Fair.

“I’ve always wanted to be a singer,” Barker said. “I’ve been singing for eight years. Well, that’s a lot to say when you’re 14.”

She said she enjoys performing the works of singers such as Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride, all women she looks up to. Picking a favorite song to perform, however, is something she said she can’t do as an artist.

For Barker, singing is a part of her make-up, something she just has to do.

“Basically, it’s like a need. If I don’t sing, it’s so weird,” Barker said. “I’ve always sang, it’s been my whole life. Like, if I was sad, I sang, if I was happy, I sang. I sing whenever I get the chance because I love to do it so much.”

Her father, Harry Barker, said his daughter is hoping to audition for the singing competitions “The Voice” and “American Idol” next year.

He helped his daughter during her show Wednesday by playing backup music for her to sing to.

Emily Barker said she hopes to make country singing a part of her future.

“It’s not like a job, it’s a passion; it’s something I love to do,” Barker said.

Barker has a variety of interests outside of singing.

She is a member of the Shooting Stars dance squad, whose members were on hand Tuesday to support Barker by entertaining the crowd during breaks and joining her for a song.

Barker said she rides horses and sings with the school chorus.

“I’m a busy child,” she joked.

Harry Barker said his daughter is a community girl who is involved with local organizations and regularly attends her church in Ephratah.

He said he feels his daughter will succeed in the music world.

“I honestly feel she will find her dream of being a real lady county-western singer with the determination she has,” he said.

“It’s always been my dream, and my dad’s been [my] support and my rock. He’s inspired me to keep going,” Emily Barker said.

Barker will start at Johnstown High School as a freshman next week.

In school, she said, she enjoys Spanish and English classes.

Her father said his daughter has a 96.8 grade-point average and is on the high honor roll.

The 14-year-old will perform again today from 2 to 4 p.m. at the entertainment building.

The Fonda Fair, which began Tuesday, will continue through Labor Day.