Emma Charleston — Ready for a New York City debut years in the making

Emma Charleston (Photo courtesy of Sandrine Lee)

Emma Charleston has been thinking about her June 24 gig at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City for a long time. How long? Way before the show was even scheduled.

“I live about an hour outside of New York, so I go there a lot and I see lots of live shows,” said the Connecticut singer-songwriter. “My mother is a jazz musician, so I’ve seen lots of her shows and I go there and I see all of these amazing shows, and I’m like, ‘One day, I will be there.’ I’ve got to work my way up from the bottom, but I’m so excited to make my New York debut. It’s surreal and awesome.”

Currently studying at Berklee College of Music, Charleston may be getting ahead of her studies, considering that she’s playing a gig in the Big Apple and promoting her first EP, Enjoy The Ride. But she’s still learning her craft both in and out of the classroom, and while she admits there will be nerves on Saturday night, that’s part of the journey that she expects will always be there.

“I always get nervous, no matter what,” she said. “I’m taking a class at Berklee called Stage Performance and I’ve learned a lot in that class, but I get nervous just performing for class. Normally, I get nervous after I perform more than before, because after I’m analyzing myself. Before, I know I can go on and I know I can do what I know I can do. But the nerves kind of kick in afterwards and a little bit before, so I don’t think anyone’s ever over the nerves.”

And if she’s survived Livingston Taylor and his call of “Who’s Up?” what can a bunch of New Yorkers out to hear some tunes do to her?

“He is a brilliant, neurotic genius,” she said of Taylor, the brother of James Taylor who teaches the Stage Performance class. “He’s wonderful. He asks who’s up and people volunteer to perform their original songs. It’s an eclectic mix and he goes through everyone and breaks them down, points out their flaws to everyone, and it’s brutal, but I learned so much about myself and the industry that I’m going into. So I’m happy I took it, but it’s terrifying.”

Music is in the blood, though, as Charleston’s mother paved a path for her that she was willing to take, even though many in the same situation would have rebelled and ran in the other direction.

“I’ve never had the feeling that I had to distance myself,” she said. “My mother (Rondi) is a singer, my grandmother (Elsa) is a singer, and my entire mother’s side of the family is very musically inclined. There are videos of baby Emma singing along to ‘The Sound of Music’ and enjoying myself and loving it. (Laughs) And I never felt that I had to do anything else because I found this passion at such a young age and I was nurtured by my family. It is what I loved. I did musical theater all of high school, which is a little different from my path now, and my parents always supported me through that. And my mother was an opera singer at Julliard, and she did theater, but then transitioned to writing her own music. I’m following in the footsteps of my mother, but in my own way, so I don’t feel overshadowed or pressured.”

She has learned her lessons well, smoothly walking the line of knowing the rules and also how to break them. Now the task ahead is to get her EP in the ears of the world and to hit those stages, nerves be damned.

“These songs are a part of me and have been a part of me for so long that I’m two hundred percent ready to put them out there and see what other people think and take my hands off and deliver myself in a little EP package for the world to listen to,” Charleston said. “These songs really are who I am.”

Emma Charleston plays Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on Saturday, June 24. For more information, click here

For more information on Emma Charleston, click here

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