Staying Authentic and Grounded: An Interview with Country Darling Emma White

 

  For those who wished Taylor Swift had stayed in her sweet spot of pop-country for more than just one album, Emma White is the artist you’ve been waiting for.

When singer and songwriter, Emma White, saw the Dixie Chicks on stage at the ripe old age of seven she decided that she’d pursue a musical career. “I had no choice. I knew it’s what I wanted to do.”

Emma White hails from Baltimore, Maryland. She attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. Maryland isn’t always the first state that comes to mind when we think of country, especially in progressive, metropolitan areas such as Baltimore, but White says there were plenty of rural influencers in Maryland’s expansive countryside.

White eventually made the move all the country-hopefuls do to Nashville, TN. White admitted that the move was hard, even though she spent time living in other cities like New York and Los Angeles. The South has it’s own feel and set of obstacles, even in a metropolitan city that’s as progressive as Nashville. Despite the difficulties, she came into her own as a songwriter.

“A lot of love and roots for country came from my family. I got to first-hand experience what my parents loved. I’d run into John Prine, one of their favorite artists, in the grocery store. Nashville is all about live music and that authentic sound,” White said.

“My parents were into country music,” White said. Being named after country legend, Emmylou Harris, it would be a shame against her namesake if she didn’t get into country. “My siblings were named after James Taylor songs as well.”

As well as the Dixie Chicks, White cites Shania Twain to be one of her biggest country influencers as well. It was in her middle/high school years that pop and R&B began to appear as influences with artists like Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder.

White wasted no time turning her influence into art. She spent her early years practicing guitar and piano but really started pursuing her guitar skills during college. White didn’t want to take the chance of having someone else play music for her, she wanted to be directly in control of how her music sounded, “I just wanted to play for myself,” she says.

White’s authenticity can be seen through the blend of genres within her music, without trying to pander to audiences’ taste. “It’s not a formula thing,” said White, “Every song I wrote, I wrote with intention. It’s not just Country – its Pop and R&B. It has depth.”

White’s inspiration comes from creating the music itself and experience, “I always write melody first. I can write a song quickly start to finish just with melody.” My favorite topics are usually about relationships, life and its hardships. I like to find happy endings and solutions to problems. I’ve found strength through hardship.”

Sometimes the inspiration comes from specific events. Her song “Not That Into You” was inspired by a dude who just could not take a hint.

“I wrote this song to try to change the narrative that’s written for women. Women are seen as desperate or always pinning for some guy and their only dream is to fall in love and get married. That has always bothered me,” said White. “What I see portrayed, I don’t identify with that.”

White’s tired of other narratives that are set up for women. The struggles of women in the music business are highlighted in court cases, interviews, and music by the female artists themselves. White, however, doesn’t seem to wake up every morning and feel the undo pressure on her chest.

“I never want to complain, I get tired of the ‘harder for female’ narrative,” said White. She acknowledges the statistical disadvantage and the narrative of others but refuses to let the industry itself threaten what she wants to accomplish.

“I don’t think gender has anything to do with what you can or can’t achieve. I try not to buy into that story. It’s that mainstream story and we have to make sure it’s not true,” said White. By giving the beast a name it becomes more real, we can hold ourselves back before we face any threat of inequality. It’s part of the inequality. “I’ve been turned down because I’ve been told it’s harder to break a woman [into the music scene]. It’s just an excuse,” said White.

Within the different music genres, some genres pose their own set of individual challenges. As an artist with a toe in many genres, White has faced the hurdles of each.

With pop music, look and gimmick can be more important than the music itself. “I’ve met with pop labels and they always want to change something about me, like dying my hair a crazy color,” said White. “I just want to be myself.” “There’s not always an easy path to being authentic.”

Emma White’s single “Not that Into You” will be released on January 27th. The EP will debut February 3rd.

You can listen to Emma’s recent singles, here on SoundCloud (Not That Into You will be added on the 27th!)

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Visit her website at EmmaWhiteMusic.com for more details on her release!

 

Makayla Gay

Makayla Gay

Makayla Gay is from a too big family and a too small town. She has a dog named Mumford who's expensive noodle habit keeps her working hard.She is considered to be an expert on wilderness survival by three people. She hails from Kentucky and currently attends Converse College in South Carolina. When she graduates, Makayla hopes to open up a sheep farm in Ireland and write novels in a drafty, old castle.
Please do not contact her with unsolicited facts about space.
Makayla Gay