Do you remember New Brunswick country singer Emma Robbins? She’s 80 now and just released a new album

Laughter, tears and thanks – here are some of the reactions Emma Robbins heard after the release of her latest album.

It’s not just any album. This is his first solo album and his first album in over 60 years.

Robbins made a name for himself in New Brunswick in the 1950s as a rising country music star. Now, at 80, she’s back.

“I connect with people through my songs, and I never imagined that,” Robbins said in response to comments she received about her music.

His start in the music industry “sort of happened by accident”. Capital Co-op Jamboree held a contest every week and 10-year-old Robbins decided to give it a shot one day.

She played guitar and sang and won third prize, earning $5. She said that was a lot of money for a 10-year-old child at the time.

Robbins’ start in the music industry “sort of happened by accident”. Capital Co-op Jamboree held a contest every week and 10-year-old Robbins decided to give it a shot one day. (Submitted by James Robbins)

She continued to compete over the years, sometimes placing first, sometimes third, but one night when she was 16, she got her chance.

“There were judges listening to the radio and they chose me as the best singer that night. And [Earl Mitton & The Valley Rhythm Boys] were looking for a singer because they just got a contract with CHSJ-TV,” Robbins said. “So I was the obvious choice, I guess, and that’s how I got to sing with them. .”

She performed with Earl Mitton & The Valley Rhythm Boys from 1958 to 1960. She said the boys treated her like their little sister.

They played every Saturday night on television. While Robbins was recognizable in the Maritimes due to her regular on-screen performances, she said “nothing has changed” except maybe a few looks on the streets of Fredericton. She said it made her uncomfortable

“I was going to sing on Saturday night and I knew people were watching. And Monday morning I go back to school and everybody there probably would have watched the show, but nobody said anything,” Robbins said. .

“I didn’t say anything. It was just another day at school. It was just part of my life.”

A black and white photo of a group of musicians.
Robbins performed with Earl Mitton & The Valley Rhythm Boys from 1958 to 1960. She said the boys treated her like their little sister. (Submitted by James Robbins)

When Robbins got married and started a family, things changed. She got busy and her music started to fade.

Robbins remembers that every time she let the music slip away, it was during a dark time.

She became depressed after the birth of her first child. “At the time, you just had to get over it,” she said.

A black and white photo of a groom on the left joining arms with a bride on the right.
When Robbins got married and started a family, things changed and she got busy, so her music started to fade. (Submitted by James Robbins)

The music resurfaces for her. She now lives on Vancouver Island and 80 Where the songbirds linger sing came out a little over a week ago.

The nine-song album might not have seen the light of day without Robbins’ son, James Robbins.

He said, in the interest of his mother’s legacy, “it would be a shame for her not to record songs, especially in a digital format like we have today”.

Robbins said James convinced her to record her songs and even showed her how to use the equipment.

She recorded the first one and, after sending it back for instrumentation, she decided to continue. Robbins said that sometimes lyrics come in the middle of the night and she has to get up to write them.

The album was recorded in a closet, James said.

James said his dad doesn’t like to spend a lot of money. But he told her that they would need to buy some good equipment even if Robbins could do most of the production on her own.

A woman with her back to the camera.  She holds a guitar in front of a music stand and a microphone.  An open laptop sits on a table next to her.
Robbins’ nine-track album was recorded in a closet with material her son James helped her use. (Submitted by James Robbins)

“When he saw how happy it made her after she produced her first song…he just looked at me and he said, ‘Spare no expense, get her what she needs,'” James said.

Robbins said she wasn’t sure what to do next. She won’t present her album because it’s just for listening, but she’s surprised at the interest shown in her music.

Her singing has always sparked the interest of those around her, from her last album to her time with Mitton’s band competing as a teenager – until 77 years ago outside her house on the side road of Fredericton Junction.

“My dad made me a swing and I would sit there and sing on time and the neighbors said they liked to hear me sing,” Robbins said. “That’s where it all began.”

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