Though she’s still playing below the radar, at the age of 22, Emily Hearn has already opened for Darius Rucker, starred in a music video with Bill Murray and performed for a crowd of 15,000 Girl Scouts.

Emily Hearn

Tuesday 8 p.m.
The Ark

Hearn’s upcoming performance at The Ark wouldn’t have been possible just four years ago if it weren’t for a bad breakup that inspired her to begin songwriting. She never thought the songs would take her anywhere, but when fellow student-producer Trey Rose decided to produce them into an EP, everything changed.

“It was kind of an experimental thing and maybe just a fun thing,” Hearn said of her music career’s beginning. “I labeled it as something I was just doing for me; I wasn’t really thinking it was going to be a career.”

But the first few songs sparked Hearn’s creativity, and she began writing more. Soon a passion developed.

“By the time I released (my first EP), I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I really want to do this,’ ” Hearn said. “It developed slowly but surely into my passion and what I love doing.”

Born and raised in the South, Hearn grew up listening to country music artists like The Dixie Chicks and, like many children, took piano lessons.

“My piano teacher was trying to teach me how to read the notes, the theory and everything behind piano, but, for some reason, I was just better at playing by ear,” Hearn said. “So I ended up quitting piano lessons, but I kept playing piano by just listening to songs.”

Later Hearn’s interests turned to her dad’s old college guitar, on which she had listened to him play country songs for years. With the help of some of his old chord books, Hearn proceeded to teach herself how to play.

“You can look up chord charts to popular songs, so I would just look up different songs and teach myself how to play them,” Hearn said. “And after practicing, I could play those songs and then I started writing songs from there.”

Her writing abilities developed with each new song and eventually those songs helped to create her EP “Paper Heart” in 2010 and then her follow-up album “Red Balloon” in 2012.

“I think that I create pop music, but there are elements of folk to it and maybe a little country,” Hearn said. “But the main thing that I’m going for is pop because it’s relatable — the melodies are catchy and upbeat, and so it kind of falls into that category.”

Despite the pop classification, Hearn works hard to make sure her lyrics are as real and genuine as possible, often putting her own experiences into some of her songs.

“While most popular music might not have lyrics you relate to — it’s just kind of upbeat, fun and catchy — I think mine has the lyrical elements of someone who tells the truth about relationships and life,” Hearn said.

With her upcoming performance, Hearn is excited to have those lyrics listened to by unfamiliar listeners.

“I’ve mostly played in he South in the past, and I just decided that playing up north, if I was going to get any opportunities, I was going to take all of them,” Hearn said. “I’ve gotten to play some colleges up north and I’ve gotten to play some venues in a few different states, and relating to a crowd that doesn’t have the southern or country background was really fun and interesting for me.”

With a new EP coming out this summer and with multiple performance stops, (including the Key West Songwriter’s Festival) Hearn has very simple hopes for her future in music.

“I love being able to do this on whatever level, and I hope that I get to meet as many people as possible and see as many cities as possible,” Hearn said. “But I just want to be able to do this and pay the bills, and whatever else comes will be welcomed.”

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