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World Cafe Nashville: Emily West

Emily West
Courtesy of the artist
Emily West

Emily West is one of those rare talents who leaves new fans wondering: Where have you been all my life? Her voice has the raw power and gem-like beauty of an old-fashioned pop star; indeed, she won second place on television's America's Got Talent in 2014. That adventure followed a foray into mainstream country music that earned her a spot in 2008 in the Top 40 of Billboard's Country charts with the song "Rocks in Your Shoes," as well as a very successful 2010 duet with Keith Urban called "Blue Sky." But West's talent is too individual and her wit too elegant to rest in that commercial realm.

Her latest music, a collaboration with producer and co-writer Daniel Tashian, casts her as a modern-day Doris Day — but more knowing and sharp — in classic pop settings. Emily West met me at Nashville's Sound Stage Studios to talk about her many musical lives. Hear it all in the player above.

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Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.