Miss Emily is one of Kingston’s best singer-songwriters. There is little dispute on that. She’s earned it the hard way: coming up through the club scene with hundreds of shows in the 00s, mostly with a famed residency at the Merchant, while being a single mother through a lot of that time. Now, she’s got a few albums under her belt, is able to play more selective shows, and is regularly doing something that no other indie musician has done: selling out the Isabel Bader Centre.
Miss Emily’s last time there was a pair of sold-out shows in October to launch her most recent solo album In Between. Prior to that, she paid tribute to homegrown talent with Miss Emily Sings Kingston, which was another sellout last June.
“For 10 years I’d wanted to do a show where I covered Betablokka songs,” she says, referring to the band fronted by Matt Hanlon that was also very popular on the Kingston music scene in the 00s. The band has been quiet in recent years, but Miss Emily, aka Emily Fennell, remains a die-hard fan of Hanlon’s songwriting.
“I thought ‘Maybe I’ll do a whole show of Kingston artist’s, because I already cover a bunch,’” says Fennell. But she didn’t get a chance to pay tribute to everyone she wanted to.
“This time around I still had so many artists I didn’t get around to last year.”
While she already covers or has covered several Kingston-based artists, there is still plenty of work involved in preparing a show like this.
“Even after this year, I’m not going to get to everybody I want to cover,” she says. “I really labour over the list, and I always feel awful that I’m not getting everybody I want to get on there.”
So, what can Kingston music lovers expect? Well, some of the show is kept under wraps.
“I kinda keep it a little bit secret ahead of time,” says Fennell. “And some secret special guests.”
Miss Emily has had a busy year, outside of four Isabel performances, releasing a new album, a short tour of Europe, and plenty of other shows in between. She’s also launched a new venture called M.I.K.E.S – Music Industry Kingston Emergency Support – a group that will offer financial support to working musicians in Kingston if they’re unable to work due to medical or other issues. The organization is still in its infancy, and Fennell sees a real need in the music community.
“We raise money for everybody else, nobody raises money for us,” says Fennell. “I say us, and I’m not even on the list. I’m not in a position where I need help anymore. But I suffered long and hard for many years. I think the only way we’re going to ensure we have the next generation of musicians is to make life a little bit more supported for them, and this organization will help with that.”
Last year’s Miss Emily Sings Kingston was recorded, and, according to Fennell, “turned out amazing,” and selections from that performance will be released as a fundraiser for M.I.K.E.S.
“We’ll put some of that money back in the hands of the musicians who wrote the material in the first place.”
Where to see Miss Emily: Saturday, June 16th at The Isabel. Thursday, July 26 at Pan Chancho. Sunday, Aug 19 at Back to the Farm: MacKinnon Brothers Beer & Music Festival.
Where to find Miss Emily: themissemily.com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.
Where to listen to Miss Emily: iTunes, Soundcloud.