Maryville Intermediate School Orchestra members have a big day coming up. For their fundraiser on Sunday, Feb. 13, they will be joined by legendary singer Michael Johnson. Johnson, who rose to fame with the hit “Bluer Than Blue,” has already been to the school to share his excitement with the students.
Still, practice is practice, and MIS orchestra director Bill Robinson wanted to keep the students motivated.
So Robinson called family friend Emily Poe, a 25-year-old violinist and Belmont University graduate, who played the fiddle for country singer Taylor Swift. Poe travelled and performed with Swift for two years before she made a career change and chose to go to the University of Tennessee Law School.
The orchestra director said his family has known Poe for several years.
“We were preparing for this program and thought, what better person to talk to the kids than someone who has performed and played backup for Taylor Swift? She was willing to talk with my sixth grade students and share what it is like to tour and play back up. We were fortunate she was able to do that,” Robinson said. “The students were excited. A lot of the kids wanted her autograph. We had pictures of her and Taylor Swift performing. I think it motivated a lot of the kids, especially seeing someone young. I hope it gives them the incentive and teaches them that there are possibilities in their futures.”
Robinson said the students enjoyed listening to Poe talk about touring with Swift. “She listened to them play for a few minutes and then talked about her background as far as getting to play with Taylor Swift,” Robinson said.
The MIS orchestra director said Poe has played violin all her life and got a degree at Belmont University. “She talked about how she was at a camp and a teacher encouraged her to look into playing for Taylor Swift, and they ended up hiring her,” Robinson said. “She was talking to the kids and encouraging them to practice and work hard because there is no telling what opportunities will come their way down the road.”
Robinson said Poe talked about performing on the Grand Ole Opry stage and at the Country Music Association awards show. Poe also shared that show business is not always a glamorous career.
“She said you see people on stage and think it is a glamorous career, but it is a job,” he said. “The work and travel are not always what some think it is.”
The MIS orchestra concert featuring Michael Johnson will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 13, at the Clayton Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15 and $25 for premium seating, and are available at the door. Monies raised goes to help the MIS Orchestra program.