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Emma Sedlacek's Musical Journey

Apr 24, 2024 (0)

EMMA SEDLACEK performing with the Rude Band in Crookston, MN. Photo courtesy Tiffany Biermaier Photography.

By Ally Sedlacek

As the sun dips below the horizon in Norfolk, Nebraska, the town's music scene springs to life. Neon lights illuminate the streets, drawing crowds to local venues buzzing with anticipation. Inside, guitars are tuned and fans gather eagerly, ready for an evening of live music.

Excited chatter fills the air as concertgoers browse merchandise tables decorated with band logos. As doors open, the venue pulses with energy, setting the stage for a memorable night. Cheers erupt as the first notes fill the air, signaling the start of another electrifying show.

As the crowd's anticipation reaches its peak, a figure steps onto the stage, bathed in the glow of neon lights. With a guitar slung over her shoulder and a confident smile, she commands the attention of everyone in the room. This is the moment when Emma Sedlacek, a rising star in the pop-punk music scene, grabs the microphone and begins her opening number. As Emma takes to the microphone, the crowd responds with enthusiastic cheers and applause. Her presence on stage is magnetic, and it's clear that she was born to perform. But Emma's journey to musical stardom is far from ordinary.

Emma Sedlacek is not your average musician. Coming from the small town of O'Neill, Nebraska, Emma's journey to musical stardom is a testament to the power of determination and raw talent. The music scene in her hometown may not have been as vibrant as those in larger cities, and opportunities to learn from experienced musicians were scarce. Despite these challenges, Emma's passion for music burned bright. But what sets her apart goes beyond her musical prowess—it's her ability to push boundaries, challenge conventions, and carve out her own unique path in the world of pop-punk music.

  Growing up in the heart of rural Nebraska, she discovered her love for music at an early age, strumming her ukulele and singing along to her favorite tunes. Emma's journey began when she picked up a ukulele at the age of nine. Inspired by bands like Blink-182, she quickly transitioned to the guitar, driven by a desire to express herself in ways that defy convention. 

In the summer of 2022, Sedlacek decided to attend a rock band camp in Norfolk, Nebraska. This camp was hosted by Midwest Music, a music store in downtown Norfolk, and anyone between the ages of 12 to 18 years old could attend. “I was really hesitant about going to this ‘band camp' and did not want to do it because it was an hour away from home and I wasn't going to know anyone there, but my family convinced me I should do it. I'm glad I did,” Sedlacek said.

It was at this camp where Emma's talent truly began to shine, catching the attention of seasoned musicians with her captivating voice and natural stage presence. “Her band was rehearsing in one of the practice rooms and Emma's ‘sound' caught my attention right away. I describe it as someone having ‘It'. She has ‘It'. She has the look, sound, poise, songwriting ability, and story to make something really good happen for her music career,” said Chad Barnhill, manager of Midwest Music in Norfolk, Nebraska. This is how she got her start in the band, Neon Lights, a teenage band based out of Norfolk, Nebraska. At 16 years old, she joined Neon Lights and has been the lead singer ever since. The band is made up of four people, ranging from ages 14 to 18 years old. “I never thought that joining this band would lead me to where I am now,” Sedlacek said with a grin.  She brings a fresh energy to the pop-punk scene, captivating audiences with her soul-stirring lyrics and electrifying performances. But her journey doesn't stop there. 

After catching the attention of Grace Hansen, lead guitarist of the Rude Band, Emma was invited to join their ranks as a second vocalist. This unique opportunity allowed Emma to showcase her versatility as an artist and further expand her musical horizons. It was on St. Patrick's Day of 2023, Hansen heard Emma play and sing as she was the opening act as a solo artist. “I loved her voice. I loved her choice of songs. I thought she was cute as a button, and she was young enough that I knew she didn't have any of the bad habits a lot of musicians develop when they get into this business. You know, drinking, drugs, poor choices. I trusted that if I asked her to be in the band, I wouldn't be disappointed,” said Hansen. 

With the Rude Band, Emma continues to push boundaries and defy expectations, showcasing her versatility as an artist and leaving a positive impact wherever she goes.  “I adore Emma. She is a shining beacon in the band's 32-year career. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with her and call her a friend,” said Hansen with a smile. 

But Emma's journey is about more than just music—it's about self-discovery and personal growth. Through her music, this 18 year old has found a voice to express her deepest thoughts and emotions, transforming her shyness into strength and her doubts into determination. “One of the biggest challenges I am still trying to overcome is communication and standing up for myself within certain areas of music like playing in bands,” Sedlacek said. “I am still learning how to really stick up for myself and feel comfortable enough to communicate my feelings, even if it goes against what the rest of the group does.” 

Her confidence and self-image issues are also something that she has had to overcome. “Emma, as a child, always beat to her own drum,” Sedlacek's mother, Nicole Sedlacek, said. “She was more shy and introverted as a child. She also did not like loud places or large crowds,” Sedlacek's father, Brian Sedlacek added. If you saw her perform now, you would never know that though. With her Y2K inspired outfit consisting of low-rise jeans, crop top, and roller-curled hair, Sedlacek knows how to work a crowd. “She is still shy,” stated Nicole. “It's almost like she has a switch. She is really outgoing and extroverted on stage, but after the gig is over she's people'd out and needs her quiet time.”

Now, as Emma prepares to release her debut EP, “'Dear Diary,” she stands on the cusp of a new chapter in her musical journey. “I have been accepted into Berklee's School of Music's online program and I am going to pursue a degree in songwriting and producing. As far as outside of college, beats me. My hopes are to one day become a professional singer/songwriter,” Sedlacek said with a laugh. In addition to her work with Neon Lights and the Rude Band, Emma has also been cultivating her own solo act. With her solo performances, Emma showcases her versatility as an artist, delivering intimate and captivating performances that resonate deeply with her audience. “She's not one to really talk about her feelings, so I feel like her solo songwriting has been this glimpse into what she's thinking and what she's feeling,” said Nicole. “It's been so fun to see her find her passion and grow.”

Back on stage, Emma takes control of the stage with confidence and poise. From her humble beginnings in a small town to the brink of musical stardom, Emma Sedlacek's journey is a testament to the power of determination, talent, and self-discovery. She proves that the power of music lies in its ability to connect us to ourselves and to each other, transcending boundaries and inspiring us to dream bigger, reach higher, and believe in ourselves.


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