Emma Stevens Biography
Emma is currently writing and recording her second album, scheduled for release in September 2014.
Born in Guildford in England to parents Toby and Tina Stevens, she has one younger sister, Ellen. Emma grew up in Shalford just outside of Guildford, where she lived until the age of 17. She attended Shalford First School, St Theresa's in Effingham and St Peter's in Merrow where she studied GCSE Music.
Emma first started playing guitar at the age of 3 or 4, after watching her mother play Spanish acoustic guitar. Spotting this early talent, her parents sent her to Cello & Piano lessons from the age of 6 and she later joined the Surrey Youth Orchestra. From the age of about 10, Emma had orchestra and piano lessons at Charterhouse and attended stage school at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in 1999. Her songwriting began aged around 12 or 13 when she took up the guitar properly - "I’d write a lot of melodies on the piano then too. I started writing poetry as well – I got a poem published in a national competition – and I started combining them with melodies".
Emma's very first appearance on stage was at the tender age of 13 at a local venue in Guildford. "I was terrified but I remember loving being on stage and singing my songs as I do now".
On her 17th birthday, she was dumped by her then boyfriend - this was later to become the inspiration for the song How to Write a Love Song, which appeared on her first solo EP Heart on Hand.
From 2006 to 2007, Emma attended the Academy of Contemporary Music and graduated with a Diploma in Guitar and Contemporary Performance. This is also where she met her guitarist Sam Whiting.
After graduating from ACM, Emma worked as a session musician playing guitar and piano for groups such as fiN, H-Boogie and Ronit & The Aramingos. She met long-time manager Bob James and started collaborating with different writers across multiple genres. Work included writing and performing on Britain's Got Talent finalist Andrew Muir's debut album for which she wrote the lyrics to Can't Say That It's Over in 2009. Soon after, Emma penned a song called Wowowow for Korean boy-band SHINee, which appeared on their second album Lucifer in 2010. The song sold 100,000 copies in its first week as a single.
Playing in and writing for band Shooting Lead Rabbits (described as "a three-piece, retro, art house, alternative, folk rock band"), led to a European tour in 2010 and a distribution deal with FNAC.
It was during songwriting sessions in Los Angeles with Charlie Midnight that, with his encouragement, she began to seriously consider a future solo career.
Other collaborations have included Sharon Vaughn, Eric Shermehorn, Andy Goldmark, Wayne Rodriguez, Mimoza Blinsson, Adam Kagan, Will Simms, Russ Ballard and John Beck.
In 2011, she toured with British rock band fiN, supporting Incubus, Mona, The Kooks and Feeder regularly performing on stage in front of crowds of 20,000 people.
In early 2012, Emma's mother was diagnosed with cancer. Along with Charlie Midnight, Tina Stevens had been strongly encouraging Emma to embark on a solo career - "she was my biggest supporter and believer in me and would say, ‘You’ve got the potential to do it yourself.’ So I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do it!’".
Two weeks before her mother passed away on March 26, 2012, they sat down together and decided that the first album would be released initially as a series of four EPs. Tina Stevens designed the cover artwork that would be used, in four sections, for each of the EPs. Placed together, the four pieces form the entire cover of the full album, Enchanted.
Earlier in November 2011, Emma had started collaborating with songwriter/producer Pete Woodroffe (best known for his work with Def Leppard) who would eventually co-write 14 of the tracks and produce all four EPs and the album. In an interview in December 2013, she declared Woodroffe as her "Ultimate Hero".
In August 2012, Emma was picked up by the BBC Introducing series for new and unsigned artists and on August 19, 2012 she performed four songs live on air together with band members Sam Whiting, Belinda Webb and Emma Hughes.
The first single, A Place Called You, was released on October 28, 2012 and received its first national airplay on BBC Radio 2's Weekend Wogan show on September 2, 2012.
Emma toured extensively during the remainder of 2012, promoting the Heart on Hand EP.
In January 2013, Emma collaborated with English folk-rock singer-songwriter Passenger, which resulted in a song I'll Be Your Man.
During early 2013, Terry Wogan continued to champion the Heart on Hand EP, culminating in a live appearance on Weekend Wogan on March 17, 2013 where she performed the next single to be released, Once. Also appearing on this show was American singer-songwriter Jenn Bostic with whom she performed a live cover of Ed Sheeran's Give Me Love. Emma and Jenn would become firm friends and toured together twice during 2013.
Soon after this appearance, Once was playlisted by BBC Radio 2 on March 27, 2012.
Following the success of Once, the original single A Place Called You was re-released and was subsequently playlisted by BBC Radio 2 on July 27, 2013.
Further support came from BBC Radio 2 Breakfast presenter Chris Evans resulting in a live appearance on the show on August 16, 2013 where Emma performed A Place Called You. During the show, Evans invited her to play at his Carfest festival in aid of the BBC Children in Need charity on August 24, 2013.
Another live appearance on BBC Radio 2 rapidly followed on August 18, 2013 when she performed Sunflower on Good Morning Sunday. The following month, Emma headlined the BBC Introducing stage at Festival in a day in Hyde Park on September 8, 2013.
Recording work on the debut album was completed on September 9, 2013 and growing success led to the accelerated release of the final two EPs. Sunflower, the final EP, was released on October 20, 2013 and contained the third single Riptide as well as the title track Sunflower, the second of two songs written about coping with the loss of her mother - "When I wrote 'Sunflower' I came up with the title because my Mum used to grow Sunflowers at the bottom of the garden when I was a little girl, and I really felt the urge to use that and turn it into a lyric. It's one of the saddest songs I have written, but I just desperately needed to - it helped me in the grieving process after losing my Mum and it helps me every day when I sing it on stage".
Both Riptide and Sunflower were songs that were written in less than a day. BBC Radio 2 again playlisted the new single on September 28, 2013 and further support followed from iTunes when the track became their Single of the Week in the UK, Ireland, Russia and India on October 22, 2013.
After the album had been completed, rather than sign to a major label, Emma decided to self-release Enchanted and a deal with label services company Absolute Marketing and Distribution Ltd was signed.
In January 2014, Emma's manager Bob James announced that Riptide would be released via Go Entertainment in Benelux and Universal in Ireland. In the following month, the single was playlisted by Radio 2 and radiomol in Belgium and Radio 2 in the Netherlands.