Story and photos by McCALL GRAY
Music can be defined as an art of sound that turns ideas and emotions into words. The elements of melody, cadence, harmony and voice are strung together with a conscious effort to create it. Music can inspire both the artist and the listener to something beyond the lyrics.
Local singer-songwriter Emily Bea, from Sandy, has demonstrated exactly this — and she’s only 20.
Bea comes from a musical family. Her parents and three siblings all played instruments and shared a love for playing soccer. Bea has been devoted to the sport since she was 3. Simultaneously she began to enjoy music, too. She began piano lessons, then taught herself the violin, ukulele and mandolin. By 8th grade, she had moved on to teach herself the guitar and experiment with song writing.
“The first song I remember her writing and singing to me was about her twin sister who passed away when she was a baby,” said Brian, Bea’s father.
When she wrote it, Bea said she was experiencing a sorrowful moment of loss, missing her sister. She was looking for a way to gain comfort and peace and found that avenue through her guitar.
“I started singing words and they just kind of came out,” Bea said.
The song was called, “Wow, I Really Love You.”
“It completely floored me. … From that experience, I knew she had potential to do something great with her music,” Brian said.
Bea began to discover her way with music and her indie pop style of songwriting. But, it always came second to playing soccer. That is until on two separate occasions she sustained a serious injury. Her ACL tore twice, preventing her from playing on her Brighton High School soccer team. Bea pushed through therapy and worked hard to get back on the field. Meanwhile, the recovery period allowed her more time to focus on her music.
“Soccer was the thing I ultimately wanted to do, but when it [the ACL tear] happened again it made me question if soccer was what I was really supposed to be doing,” Bea said. To her surprise, it wasn’t. After she fully recovered the second time around, she met with a vocal coach.
“[The coach] heard her sing and told her, ‘I don’t care how good of a soccer player you are. God gave you a gift, and you need to sing,’” Brian said. “With that, she gave up soccer and focused on music.”
“I think her music is truly original, and that nobody can fully replicate her sound nor style. I appreciate other musicians who take ownership of their art like she does,” said Scott Hebertson, a fellow music artist and friend of the family.
Music turned out to be a natural talent even though Bea hand’t intended to strongly pursue it in the beginning. “Music was always my fallback,” she said. “It was really hard at first, but it’s really been a blessing. … I really enjoy it.”
When it came to performing in public, she started out at open mics and restaurants such as Winger’s in West Valley and Pat’s Barbecue in Salt Lake City. She did her first show in 2012, opening for the musical group, “A Great Big World” and Greg Holden, who wrote the song “Home,” made famous by “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips.
“It is inspiring to see someone start from nowhere, begin to chase their dream, and then start seeing results,” Hebertson said.
Bea’s creation process for writing a new song stems from many sources. “Inspiration comes from everywhere,” Bea said. She discovers ideas for new songs by what people say as they pass her by, what she reads, sees in movies and from personal experiences.
Bea self-produced a quality list of original content where she sang and played an instrument in each song. In 2012 her first EP album, “Love A Fair,” launched. With its success came another and in 2014 she released her first full-length album, “Bench For Two.”
“When I got my first album I cried, a lot, just because it was really exciting,” Bea said. “It was tangible and had my name and picture on it.”
Bea’s producer, Trevor Price, assisted her in recording “Love A Fair” in his basement studio. Two years later, “Bench for Two” was recorded at Price’s new Salt Lake City location, Stone Angel Music Studios.
Once the recording process was complete, she manufactured her CDs through an independent CD and DVD manufacturer called Disc Makers. This allowed her the opportunity to sell them worldwide on CDBaby.com and have them available on Spotify, Amazon and iTunes. Bea also received 1,000 hard copies to sell on her own, which she does through email, email@example.com.
“I initially helped out financially to get her on her feet. But she has been able, through album sales and shows, to pay me back and make some money,” Brian said. “She books her own shows and spends a lot of time marketing her music. It is fun to see her learn and grow, both in music and business.”
Since her latest album release in 2014, Bea aims to perform two to three shows per month. She has performed at the Utah State Fair, Kilby Court in Salt Lake City and many times at Velour Live Music Gallery in Provo.
She announced the news via social media that her newest single, “Angel Fly,” had been chosen for the “Songs For Life 2015” album. “Angel Fly” was written in memory of her high school classmate, Tyler Robinson, who lost his battle to cancer. The album was released March 6, 2015, two years and two days since his passing. All proceeds from the album and individual songs are donated to cancer research.
Whether it’s the interactions with fans after performances or the accomplishment of finishing the lyrics to a new song at 2 a.m., rewarding experiences surround Bea and make her journey worthwhile.
“I definitely didn’t expect myself to be this far, especially being independent and doing everything by myself,” Bea said.
She has managed her music career while attending Salt Lake Community College full time and working another job. Bea will graduate May 2015 with her general associate degree. She expects to release more albums in the future and continue her pursuit of a full-time career in the industry.
“I think it’s just a gift that I have that I want to share with people,” Bea said. “And I feel like if I just didn’t do it then I would just be wasting what my Heavenly Father gave me. Ultimately it is to bless other people and their lives as well as help me in mine.”