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20 Minutes With:

Emily King


20 Minutes With:

Cover © J Records

Updated September 26, 2006
If you've had the opportunity to listen to "Walk in My Shoes," the first single off Emily King's upcoming debut album, East Side Story, then you might get the feeling that Emily's a very defiant, independent young woman, someone who brushes aside anyone's help as she suffers life's ups and downs.

"Walk In My Shoes"

It's no wonder people think that, judging by some of the lyrics from "Walk In My Shoes": Sometime's I feel the world is after me, tryin'a get to me, tryin'a stop what I do. 'Cause I'm the only who looks out for me, who can be me and walk in my shoes.
But despite the "me against the world" attitude of "Walk In My Shoes," King is actually a non-bitter, vibrant young woman - or she at least appears to be. She explains that the tone of "Walk In My Shoes" wasn't borne from bitterness, but from frustration.
The song "was both an accumulation of trying to get people to understand who you are. You want people to realize who you are. Also, being a New Yorker, sometimes you see people on the train and are like 'you should walk in my shoes.' "

Personal History

So who is Emily King?
Emily King, who was born 21 years ago this past July, is the biracial daughter of accomplished jazz singers/composers Marion Cowings and Kim Kalesti. Due to their similar backgrounds, King is compared sometimes to the singer Alicia Keys.
Her debut album, East Side Story, is due to be released sometime in early 2007; it gets it's title gets it's from New York City's Lower East Side, where King was raised.
"I've been singing since I was a young kid," she said, going on to state that despite both her parents being singers, she wasn't pressured to follow in their footsteps as a vocalist. "I just always kind of knew. Something in my heart said that's going to be it."


Much of her music is very personal and touches on her life growing up. Even the subject of her dual racial identity is brought up, via the song "Colorblind:" I used to think I was the same as everyone, 'til I heard a word that turned it all around/Came home from school one day confused with who I was, I didn't understand the hatred I had found, she sings at the opening of the song.
From the confessional tone and message of the song, it's easy to assume that King had been working on it for years and merely waiting for the right time to record it. But actually ...
"That song was one of the last songs I wrote on the album," she revealed. "I think that song really brings it all together, it sums up what I’m about, where I’m from."

Song Writing, Musical Influences

In addition to co-producing the album (along with Chucky Thompson), King wrote or co-wrote all the songs on East Side Story. She said that writing can be therapeutic.
"It opens up your mind to a lot of things," she said. "It allows you to be another person, to see things through different eyes."
Despite her vocal style being firmly rooted in the R&B genre, King says that her musical influences cross many styles of music, including the pop of the Beatles the hard rock of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and the R&B of Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey.
"My family, our culture is music, it's our religion," she explained.

Upcoming Album

So what can people expect from King's upcoming album?
"A lot of honesty," she said. A lot of beautiful melodies. I try to write songs that catch you the first time you hear it."
Her upcoming album even includes a cover of "Ain't No Sunshine," a Bill Withers classic that was originally released in 1971 - 14 years before King was born.
"It was my manger's idea," King said of the cover, "but I've been a fan of Bill Withers all my life. I was like 'let's do it.' "

Album Cover

One thing you won't see on her new album, however, is the cover for her album sampler. The cover, which is near the top of this page on the right (under the ad), features a young Emily King on a slide.
"Yes, that's really me as a kid," she revealed. "It's kind of a temporary cover. I was kind of grumpy that day, like 'whoever this is with the camera's gonna get it.' "
And for those wondering, that's her father sitting partially obscured in the background.

The Future

If you're intrigued by King and want to catch her live before her album comes out next year, she's currently performing spot dates here and there, including Oct. 2 at New York City's Nokia Center and Oct. 10 at Love in Washington, D.C. as part of "Heineken Red Star Soul," a series of live, invitation-only concerts featuring such acts as Raphael Saadiq, Governor, Claudette Ortiz (formerly of the vocal trio City High) and her husband, Ryan Toby.
Or if you want to stream her first single, "Walk In My Shoes," just click on a link below.

"Walk in My Shoes"

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