Emerson kicks off American tour this weekendAs Americana songstress Vicky Emerson prepares for the first show on her upcoming tour, the journey means much more than a 2,000-mile trip.
By: Stacy Bengs - Red Wing Republican-Eagle, Pierce County Herald
As Americana songstress Vicky Emerson prepares for the first show on her upcoming tour, the journey means much more than a 2,000-mile trip.
Emerson, Pierce County native and current San Franciscan, will play Friday Feb. 17 at Widespot Performing Arts and Community Center, returning to her roots after a yearlong performing hiatus.
Originally from Elmwood, Emerson has been touring as an independent musician for eight years. But she’s played the part since her youth.
“I was infatuated with the piano at a very young age,” she said, “In fact, I don’t remember it not being a part of my life.”
Early memories of hearing her grandmother Isabelle play piano – not with sheet music, but only by ear — “completely enthralled” the young girl.
At age 6, after begging her parents, Emerson was enrolled in piano lessons taught by Luella Dettling out of her home near the Sabylund Lutheran Church in neighboring Lund.
The church and the people in it became an instrumental part of Emerson’s development.
“The support that I received from Sabylund and surrounding rural communities can be directly linked to my success,” Emerson said, “There is no doubt in my mind that the encouragement I received from the pastors and congregation to play for services and holiday events is one of the reasons I am able to have the confidence in myself to play music in front of an audience.”
After receiving a degree in music from University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1998, Emerson continued her pursuit in the music industry.
While in her mid-twenties, after several solo-piano album releases, one of her live shows caught the eye of a Minnesota-based agent.
Emerson was offered a contract and she signed, allowing her to quit her day job and work full time on her music. The agency specialized in entertainment and she learned the art of engaging an audience through witty storytelling.
Recalling childhood memories of a small country girl turned urban cowgirl, she leaves no subject off the table - including a reign as former “UFO Queen” from her hometown’s celebration as the self-proclaimed UFO capital of the world.
“My mom said I should run for UFO Queen because it would look good on my resume,” she said, referring the Elmwood’s annual UFO Days summer celebration. “That story has entertained many audiences around the nation.”
Audiences from New York to San Francisco have not only enjoyed Emerson’s personal, down-to-earth lyrics and soothing sound but also her unique approach of intertwining innocent humor, she’s found.
“I think if you polled my audience, some of them would tell you they come to hear the hilarious stories I tell during the show rather than the music,” Emerson said with a laugh. “All of which are true, I promise.”
In August, her husband accepted a new job and Emerson’s family – including new daughter Olivia - relocated from New York City.
Coinciding with her new role as mother, Emerson has spent the last year working on new songs for an album that is slotted for release in late 2012.
Inspired by country/rock/folk crooner Lucinda Williams, gospel singer Patty Griffin and a “whole host of other great songwriters,” Emerson said her lyrical journeys reflect raw moments of her life.
“There is no doubt that the juxtaposition of growing up on a rural farm and living in a heavily populated city like New York has influenced my music and songwriting,” Emerson said. “I’ve found myself becoming an urban cowgirl … I believe I’ve been able to combine both of those worlds to coexist peacefully inside my songs.”
Based on the success of her last release, “Long Ride,” she will return to the Library Studio in Minneapolis later this year to join forces again with owner and producer Matt Patrick.
Emerson said she looks forward to her debut performance at Widespot: “It is an acoustic venue gem.”
Local singer/songwriter Amanda Rundquist will open the show.
“Wisconsin holds such a dear place in my heart,” Emerson said. “I haven’t been this excited to return to the Midwest during Feb. in a very long time.”
At a glance…
Who: Vicky, with local indie musician Amanda Rundquist
When: 7 p.m. Friday Feb. 17.
Where: Widespot Performing Arts and Community Center, N2030 Spring St., Stockholm
Cost: $12 adults, $8 kids 12 and under
More info: 715-307-8941 or www.widespotperformingarts.org or www.vickyemerson.com