Bette, Babs and Burnett!

Comments: 2

I didn’t start out as a songwriter!!

I wanted to be an actress and comedienne!  I was obsessed with Broadway divas like Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett, and Bette Midler.  They were funny and just owned it on stage.  They especially embraced their weird and  quirkiness to connect and bring joy to their audience (surprise?). When I got the chance to be in the limelight, at first, I just pretended to be them and it seemed to get me going.  Somehow, imagined circumstances can feel more real and true than actual real life!  But was I didn’t realize at the time, was while I cut my teeth in singing other people’s music, it taught me what it takes to write good music.

In college at Point Park University (Pittsburgh, PA),  I got a talent scholarship and rigorously studied musical theatre at The Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA) and honing my skills and learning the classics.  Ballet every morning.  Classical voice lessons. Harsh criticism about my “type” as an actress.  But I just didn’t have much success in theatre after graduation.  I tried though.  I auditioned for EVERYTHING.  The ball finally got rolling when Hershey Park was casting a new a cappella show for the summer season.  I had a good feeling.  My choir kid background and random beat-boxing skills pulled through for me on this one!  And I got the job.

At Hershey, I worked with directors from famous Off-Broadway a cappella groups such as Toxic Audio, Voca People, and The Kinsey Six.  The first week of rehearsals, I remember huddled around the boom-box together listening to The Black-eyed Peas, Lady Gaga and Queen as we “wood-shed” and picked apart the instrumentation to fit our voices and make our version of the song sound as much like the originals as possible.  We knew every note of the song and had to use the particular skills the 4 of us could combined.  Each of us had the different instrument sounds we needed: drums, guitar, harmonica or sometimes random sound effects we could imitate from the original.  I was in heaven. I loved arranging, and being and getting to work with talented singers who collaborated with me.

I got connected a booking agent in LA that hired musicians and vocalists for cruise ships.  They got me singing onboard Carnival Cruise Lines, and I set sail!

“You sang on cruise ships?  I bet you have some good stories!”  The band felt a little cut-throat at the beginning.  I needed to learn like 20 hours of pop music to perform – I thought I was gonna get fired.  But I worked my butt off and sure enough, after my first contract, I was a human jukebox.  Any style: Motown, disco, 80s pop, classic rock, contemporary radio hits, and jazz standards.  Most important, I learned to connect to the audience, work a crowd, and involve people in the experience.  So many good songs and they all connected with the crowds in their own way.  Some of my favorite ones were simple, yet honest, relatable ones that had a good groove and feeling.  By performing all that music, I learned the ingredients of a good song.  I started writing because I felt like I had unique things to say in my own songs.

Writing music has been very healing for me.  I like songs that tackle a problem and have an objective.  It’s closely related to theatre and acting in that way.  Struggles have given me specific direction for sharing personal stories and people seem to respond to real stories and experiences I’ve had.  All good music, happy or sad feeling, is an attempt to fix something or make sense of our lives.  When I can take someone on a musical journey for me, it feels like when I used to watch my Broadway heroes do it.

Cheers to the creative process and enjoying the ride!  Thank YOU for sharing the music with me!

If you haven’t heard my acoustic demo, click here to grab it!  Keep your eyes peeled for more creations coming soon!

Thank you for being a listener and sharing the journey.

2 Comments

  • Tristin Rupp says:

    Your story rings pretty similar and familiar to mine and you are the real deal lady. I’m so excited to be your friend and to get to work with you in all sorts of capacities!!!

    • Emily McVicker says:

      Thanks Tristin. I’m excited to be your friend and perform more with you! You are so talented and kind and fierce. Bring on the adventure!

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