Everlyse Hurst, known as Evie, is an 8-year-old born with no eyes who became an internet star when a local tv station shared a video of her duet with a music therapist. Hospitals can be scary places for many people, and particularly children. They’re noisy and busy and have all sorts of strange smells. Add to that the fear of not knowing what will happen, and any child would be anxious. The experience is even worse for little Evie, though. Born without eyes, she has always been afraid of doctors, and even simple medical procedures terrify her.
Evie was adopted in 2015 by American couple Katie and Craig Hurst. Although they had three children of their own and had already adopted a little boy, they were adopting a girl from China named Ellie. They saw Evie’s file and that, like Ellie, she suffered from a rare condition called anophthalmia, meaning they were born with no eyes. The Hursts wondered if the girls might be sisters.
When they asked about Evie, they discovered her prognosis was far from good. She was extremely malnourished, and her weight was continuing to fall. When the Hursts took her home, she weighed only eleven pounds even though she was four years old. Luckily, under the care of a loving family, she began to eat and gain weight. Mum Katie said: “Through quite a remarkable journey, God put Evie into our lives. She deserves to be known. She has such a bright light wherever she goes and just has the spirit of a survivor.”
Although Evie’s weight improved, she suffered from health problems and eventually developed a seizure disorder. When they learned that Evie needed to be hooked up to an EEG, a process that would take 30-60 minutes to complete, they were worried. She was so terrified the hospital staff didn’t think they could continue.
That’s when music therapist Emma Wyler walked in. Seeing how afraid she was, Emma started to play her guitar and sing. The effect was almost magical. Little Evie began to calm down, and the staff were able to continue. Emma played one of Evie’s favourite songs, “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara. After a few deep breaths to calm herself, Evie started to sing along.
She asked her mum to record the duet as she liked to listen to songs later as a way of comforting herself. Evie and Emma spent more than 40 minutes singing, using their music as therapy to help Evie cope with what was happening.
The video clip was first broadcast a few days later by a local tv station in the Hursts’ home town of Midland, Michigan. It didn’t stay there. It spread like wildfire across the internet and was featured on news sites in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Australia and even made it to Evie’s birth country, China.
The whole world seems to be in love with this brave little girl and her love of music. Even Alessia Cara herself heard about Evie. She shared lots of tweets about her and even sent her a guitar as a gift.
All this fame has spurred Evie on to even greater things. She recently appeared in a video to raise awareness of the effectiveness of music therapy and Sophie’s Place. It is an on-site music therapy studio that will open next year at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital where Evie and Emma first met.