Make us your home page
Instagram

Auto-Tuned or authentic? St. Petersburg teen Emma Robinson's video checks out

A rising junior at St. Petersburg High School is experiencing the highs and lows of viral fame.

Emma Robinson, 16, has watched the Internet flock to a video of her playing piano and singing a cover of Rihanna's Stay. She uploaded the video on July 3, and after her boyfriend posted it to Reddit (without her knowledge, she notes), it made it to the site's front page and took off. The Huffington Post and MSN both featured her, and celebrities like Chris Daughtry and Halestorm singer Lizzy Hale tweeted links to the video.

"I'm really shocked, because before this picked up, I only had like 600 subscribers. Now I have 7,000-something," Emma said. "It's weird because half the people are really nice, but half the people are really rude about it, or say it's Auto-Tuned."

Ah, yes: Her voice. Emma's vocal lilt is a spot-on match for the pitch-modulation software made famous by T-Pain and other pop stars. YouTube commenters and other insta-critics say there's no way that can be her real voice. But she says she's been singing her whole life without voice lessons, and that's just how she sings.

"I'd say it's a variation of yodeling or Celtic-type singing. It brings back those old Irish (songs)," she said. "I don't know how I got it; I just can't sing without it."

Emma comes from a musical family; her father, Steve Robinson, is a well-known singer and guitarist who played in the popular Tampa Bay band Headlights alongside renowned local producer Steve Connelly. The group toured with the Byrds' Roger McGuinn and even played on The Tonight Show.

She said that beyond her friends, family and the media, a few people have reached out to her through YouTube about possible recording opportunities, "but it's really hard to know if they're legitimate or not." Her dad, she said, hopes she'll sing for his label, Sunshine Drenchy.

For now, though, she's just plotting her next video.

"I know I'm going to upload something pretty soon; I just haven't thought of what song yet," she said. "I'm trying to think of a way I can prove that it's not Auto-Tuned. It's really hard to prove it, but if there is a way, I'm going to try to think of something."

Craig Ferguson bringing standup show to Palladium

Craig Ferguson, the charming comedian with the thick Scottish brogue who has helmed The Late Late Show on CBS since 2005, is bringing his standup comedy tour to the Palladium in downtown St. Petersburg on Nov. 18.

Ferguson had already found fame before his late-night success, most notably for playing obnoxious British boss Nigel Wick on the Drew Carey Show. But his absurdist comedy and unorthodox interviewing style — he often rips up cue cards and prepared questions before interviews and refuses to see whatever movie an actor is coming on to promote — have made him a YouTube favorite.

Tickets go on sale Saturday at noon. Make a decision soon, because Ferguson sold out his last performance at Ruth Eckerd Hall in 2010. Tickets are $55-$85 and will be available at the Ruth Eckerd Hall box office, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road in Clearwater, or by calling (727) 791-7400 or at rutheckerdhall.com. — Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer

Bonnie Raitt returning

Ruth Eckerd Hall gives us somethin' to talk about with the announcement that Grammy award winner Bonnie Raitt will return in concert Dec. 3 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $50-$100.50, and go on sale Saturday at noon at the venue's box office or online at rutheckerdhall.com.

Raitt returns to Ruth Eckerd Hall for the first time since her sold-out performance in 2009. Since then, she collected her tenth Grammy award for her 2012 release Slipstream. Opening for Raitt is Irish singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paul Brady. — Times staff writer

Soundbytes

• Howard Stern sidekick and standup comic Artie Lange is coming to the Mahaffey Theater on Sept. 28. Tickets are $32.50-$65, and they go on sale Friday.

• We've got an update on news that the Weeknd is coming to the Straz Center in Tampa Sept. 26: Tickets to the show start at $48.50, and will go on sale Friday.

• The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is stepping up its celebrity game with its new summer club and pool party series, Hard Rock Heatwave. The lineup: The Cataracs (July 12), KayJay (July 19), Kendra Wilkinson (July 26), DJ Scene (Aug. 2), Mario Lopez (Aug. 9), the Pussycat Dolls' Kaya Jones (Aug. 16), and more. The pool parties are free, but prices for individual events vary.

Auto-Tuned or authentic? St. Petersburg teen Emma Robinson's video checks out 07/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:29am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 20

    Events

    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T. rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    Eliana Goldberg, 5, of Wesley Chapel looks at a Lego sculpture called "Everlasting" at The Art of the Brick exhibit, which opened Friday in Tampa and runs through Sept. 4. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  2. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 19

    Events

    Monster Jam Triple Threat Series: Come early for the Pit Party ($15 or free at local Ford dealers) to meet the drivers and get pictures with the trucks. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $15-$80. (813) 301-2500.

    A crew member from the El Toro Loco monster truck, installs a truck tire, Thursday, 8/17/17 in preparation for Saturday's  Monster Jam Triple Threat Series at Amalie Arena, Tampa. The event will be held Saturday at 1pm and 7 pm.
  4. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]
  5. At 'American Idol' auditions in Orlando, there are life lessons in line

    Music & Concerts

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — From her spot across the lawn, Sasha Orihuela studies her son.

    Jeremy Joshua Dorsey reacts after past American Idol contestants walk by ahead of his audition at the Disney Springs in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017. 

Hundreds of people showed up for the first auditions for ABC's reboot of 'American Idol'. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times