It was an invitation to sing with a local jazz trio that got her hooked. While studying classical piano at the Janacek Conservatory in the Czech Republic, Emma Larsson sat in with the group on one of their gigs and never looked back.
“I loved the improvisation of jazz, the freedom,” she recalls. “It was my first gig but that was it.”
Sitting in New York City, which has been her home since 2010, the Swedish-born singer shared how the experience inspired her to shift her focus from classical music to jazz and from piano to voice.
“I was always drawn towards groovy music—jazz, soul, funk. I’ve always loved singing and I think I just finally admitted to myself that was really where my heart was.”
And her heart has been a faithful guide.
Emma signed her first recording contract with Imogena Records while working towards her Masters Degree at the Sibelius Academy in Finland. She released her album “Irie Butterflies” in 2006, followed by “Let it Go” in 2010. Both garnered praise across Europe, Japan and the United States with one critic writing that Emma had “…the seasoning and character of a veteran twice her age…and a flair and panache rarely heard on a debut release.”
Since moving to New York, Emma has performed regularly around the city including headlining at the Blue Note. Renowned saxophonist Billy Harper invited her to contribute to his project, “Speak to Me of Love, Speak to Me of Truth.” Both count John Coltrane among their major influences and Harper mentored Emma through the writing process for her third album, “Sing to the Sky.”
Released in 2015 on Origin Records, “Sing to the Sky” gathers together a lush blend of favorites along with a collection of her original pieces. Working as both composer and lyricist, inspired by the music of Coltrane and Betty Carter as well as the writing of Maya Angelou, Emma’s nine tracks blend a variety of keys and tempos—and emotions.
“It is about living life with all its ups and downs while keeping your faith through the rocky parts on the road,” she shared. “My hope is that listeners will find something that relates to their own stories.”