Why the winner of 'The Voice Kids' wants to tell her life story through her songs

Emma Kok, known for her viral rendition of 'Voila', is set to perform in Abu Dhabi as a special guest on André Rieu's tour


Husain Rizvi

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Emma Kok and André Rieu
Emma Kok and André Rieu

Published: Tue 5 Mar 2024, 5:43 PM

Last updated: Tue 5 Mar 2024, 5:53 PM

World-renowned Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu, along with his famous Johann Strauss Orchestra, is set to captivate audiences at Abu Dhabi's Etihad Arena on March 9.

The 74-year-old will be joined by a special guest Emma Kok, winner of The Voice Kids and known for her viral rendition of Voilà.

What makes her an interesting figure is her age; at 15, Emma has already garnered fame for her performances on various TV shows and collaborations with renowned artists like André as well as Helene Fischer. Additionally, she battles with gastroparesis, a stomach disorder affecting her daily life, and remains dedicated to her music career and advocacy work through her foundation "Gastrostars", aiming to support those with similar conditions and raise awareness.

In a chat with City Times, Emma expresses excitement and plans to share her story through emotional performances, shares her struggle with the illness, and her aspirations for the future. Excerpts from the interview:

Congratulations on being selected as the special guest for André Rieu's debut performance in Abu Dhabi! How do you feel about this opportunity, and what can the audience expect from your performance?

I am so honoured and excited to be performing in Abu Dhabi, I am going to tell my story to the audience and I am going to put all of my emotions into the songs.

Your rendition of 'Voilà' by Barbara Pravi went viral with over 60 million views across social media platforms. What inspired you to choose this song, and how do you feel about its overwhelming success?

We chose this song because it was the song that told my story, I can relate to the lyrics and that is the most important thing for me when I sing, it is very overwhelming but it feels like a dream. And I am so happy, proud and grateful.

Can you share your experience of performing 'Voilà' at André Rieu's annual concert series in Maastricht and the reaction it received from the audience?

The experience was like a dream come true. I got a standing ovation every single night which is insane because there are more than 12,000 people.

How did the collaboration with André Rieu come about, and what was it like working with such a renowned artist?

I won a television show in the Netherlands and he saw me and his son reached out to me and that’s when everything happened. It is such a big honour to work with André. He is a legend and I look up to him and for what he does and gives every single night.

You've released singles like 'Laat mij een vlinder zijn' and 'Strijder' with songwriter and producer Tjeerd Oosterhuis. Can you tell us about your collaboration with Tjeerd and the creative process behind these songs?

When I won The Voice Kids NL, Tjeerd made 'Laat Mij Een Vlinder Zijn'. But it clicked between us right away and after we released our first song, we just wanted to keep on working together. We just sit at his piano and come up with melodies, lyrics and then you have a song.

You've been open about your struggle with gastroparesis. How has this condition impacted your life and career, and what inspired you to start the "Gastrostars" foundation?

Emma Kok during a performance in Maastricht
Emma Kok during a performance in Maastricht

Well, I always say that I can’t be spontaneous. I am attached to two feeding pumps so I literally can’t jump up without thinking. And not being able to eat is very hard because food is a big social impact and it is very confronting. I started my foundation because there wasn’t one. And that needed to change, I think it’s important that people like me with the same disease have a chance to get better.

What are your goals for the foundation, and how do you hope to raise awareness and support for gastroparesis and other stomach and gut disorders?

I want to raise as much money as possible, I want to give the illness attention, because it’s a rare disease. And if we have enough money in the future, I want to start with researching this disease and hopefully come up with a solution.

How do you balance your music career with your advocacy work for gastroparesis awareness? Do you see your platform as a musician as an opportunity to shed light on important health issues?

My social media platform is growing and growing and I’ve always been very open about my illness. And I think it’s important to show the good things but also the bad things because that’s part of life, and I want to show that even if you have an illness or something else that it shouldn’t hold you back from chasing your dreams and goals.

What are your aspirations for the future?

My dream is to be a big superstar, that has always been my dream and it will not change. I just want to sing and tell my story in the songs.


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