A few years ago, Emily Hearn was a college student who wrote songs for herself, never taking it too seriously. But when the native of Griffin, Ga., moved to Charleston for the summer of 2008, she laid down the roots of her music career.

Hearn soon met guitarist and songwriter Mark Bryan (of Hootie and the Blowfish) through friends. With Bryan’s guidance, she’s formed a connection to the Charleston scene.

“I come back as often as I can,” says Hearn, who wowed the masses at last month’s First Flush Festival concert.

Hearn felt so comfortable in Charleston that she shot a video for the single, “Rooftop,” here. Filmed in locations around downtown, the clip featured a brilliant cameo from actor Bill Murray.

The transformation from a shy girl writing in her own time to her current outgoing stage persona wasn’t easy for Hearn. “When I first started playing, I was really insecure as a songwriter because I didn’t know what I was going for,” she says. “I was just writing stories about my experiences. I would just pour my soul out to people, and I didn’t know how to cope with that emotionally.”

Last year, Hearn released a debut mini-album titled Paper Heart. She is currently working hard on a full-length studio album.

She realized that people connected with the real quality of her personal songs. In a way, her insecurity turned into her strongest asset.

“I just strive to be as real as possible with my music,” she says. “I write songs that come from my life.”

Opening for Darius Rucker a few weeks ago became a reaffirming moment.

“I was thinking that people weren’t going to listen, so I was just going to go up there and be me and sing my songs,” she recalls. “I realized that people really were paying attention. Some came up to me afterwards and talked about the songs. I realized that even with big crowds, just being myself was the way to affect people. And that night I told myself, ‘I’m just going to keep being real and doing what I’m doing no matter what happens.'”

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