In this interview, we will dive into the healing power of music and songwriting in Emma G’s life. Emma’s journey is nothing short of inspirational, and her unique perspective on how music has been a constant companion on her path to healing is truly remarkable.
Emma emphasizes the profound impact that music has on our emotional and physical well-being. Her experience in using songwriting as a tool to navigate trauma, depression, and various life challenges is a testament to the transformative power of music.
Throughout the interview, we’ll explore Emma’s personal experiences, the origins of her passion for music, and how she gives back as a youth empowerment coach. Emma’s openness about her struggles, such as dealing with trauma and loss, allows us to see how music became her ally in facing these hardships and can do the same for others.
Interview with music star Emma G: Talking healing, empowerment & resilience
While it’s tough to choose a favorite moment in the conversation that follows, I am taken with Emma’s monthly song project, which aligns with awareness months for various important causes. This is a unique approach to music creation. Learn more about the motivations behind this project and the impact it aims to have on people’s lives later in the interview.
Comment below if you have a favorite moment from the discussion. Onto the interview!
How is music a healing medium for you today?
Music has a unique way of not only serving us in the moment but continuing to serve us throughout our lives when it comes to how we navigate our emotions, traumas, and adverse experiences. I talked a lot about this in my first TEDx Talk last year, but on a chemical level: listening to music can help elevate our dopamine and oxytocin levels whilst decreasing our cortisol levels, meaning that we not only significantly decrease our stress but also feel happier and more connected with our community.
When we partner this with the art of songwriting, however, we’re more able to express ourselves authentically and honestly. I often think of music and songwriting as the creative security blanket when it comes to our mental, emotional, and social healing.
Of course, this helped me significantly when I was a teenager because I had a lot of trauma that I needed to navigate. Even as an adult, I still find music and songwriting to be phenomenal tools for helping me heal some of those unresolved traumas and navigate current struggles – especially as I now know how to use music and songwriting as tools to cognitively reframe disempowering thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
In what ways has music helped you cope with difficult situations over the years?
Trauma looks different to everyone, but for me, trauma has shown many faces. I’ve struggled with depression since I was first sexually assaulted at age 12… which was, of course, exacerbated by the fact that by the age of 12, I had also endured 10 brain surgeries and 24 surgeries in total. That’s a lot.
By the time I was 19, I’d also lost multiple people to alcohol abuse, medical complications, and suicide. Each and every time, I’ve been able to channel my thoughts using songwriting as a tool to identify, simplify, understand, and – ultimately – overcome each specific pain point.
One instance in particular that comes to mind is when I set myself a write-a-song-a-day for 30 days challenge in 2021. That might seem like a lofty goal, but it forced me to be still with my thoughts and take some time to listen to that still, small voice in the back of my mind more often. If you follow Oprah or Abraham Hicks at all, you might think of this still, small voice as our inner being, our inner knowing, or even God.
Anyway, during this challenge, I found that my inner self was finally given the opportunity to attack some key traumas throughout my life that I thought I had dealt with but clearly had actually just been suppressing.
So, I wrote songs like “Miss Me With That” – clapping back against the bullies who called me a freak and Frankenstein when I was a ten-year-old having brain surgery. Writing this song also helped me re-identify my scars as badges of survival and warriordom (I know that’s not a word… but it should be!).
“Behind Her Eyes” helped me finally rewrite the script that I’d been repeating in my head, where, instead of looking at myself as a victim of assault, I’m actually a survivor and thriver – recognizing that the experience has made me more emphatic, compassionate, and of course strong.
Also, “Faith in You” helped me to break up with some super toxic ideas I had on what healthy love, platonic or romantic, looked like… which has ultimately led to me breaking up with some toxic friendships and paved the way to my upcoming nuptials this November!
Congrats on the upcoming wedding! I’m curious: has writing and singing come naturally to you?
My mother always told me I was born singing and dancing. She swore I was going to be a drummer when she was pregnant because I kicked her so hard. But I think making up songs from as young as three years old has always been the way I’ve been able to communicate best.
I’ve always shied away from confrontation, but music serves as an effective “creative license” for me to share my pain, thoughts, and ideas openly and honestly… even when it’s scary.
Of course, now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned to move away from singing my pain to actually talking about it, even when it feels super vulnerable.
Perhaps you can sing after talking about it, then. What message do you hope people take away from your music?
I want people to know they’re not alone in their feelings and experiences. That they’re stronger than they realize and that they, too, can rewrite the narrative when it comes to their emotional responses to life.
It’s easy to fall victim to other people’s ideas of who we should be, but I tell people all the time: you have life’s proverbial pen… don’t let the world write your song.
More with Emma G on healing, resiliency, and music
How have you felt lost inside, and what have you done as a means to reconnect with yourself?
Oh boy… that’s a loaded question! Being the only person I knew who’d had serious medical complications as a young person often meant I felt alone, but that was made a lot worse as a teenager because I had so many additional traumatic events happen.
One year in particular: I was 19 years old and lost my ex-boyfriend to suicide, my surrogate father to alcohol abuse, my surrogate brother to a diabetes complication, and my dog to a brain tumor… and then I was dumped. I distinctly remember walking around my town several times that year feeling like a stranger to myself. It was almost an out-of-body experience, where I was watching this character, whom I knew intimately, and wondering how she was going to get out of this pickle.
I sought the help of a psychiatrist, and after two sessions, I realized that I was holding onto a lot of guilt, owning a lot of the responsibility for what had been done to me, and I didn’t need to hold on to that anymore. That’s when I poured myself, yet again, into writing music, but this time focusing on turning those life lessons into lyrics that I could listen back to in order to remind myself that I’m stronger than I often gave myself permission to feel.
You explained you felt outside of your body. How can your music help others to find themselves again?
I like to think that my music is digestible and relatable to a wide variety of people. I have songs about anti-racism, where I challenge people to battle bigotry with their own kinds of superpowers (like compassion, empathy, and love). I have songs about overcoming abuse, and I have songs about self-love and honoring our inner power.
I hope that when people listen to the lyrics, they connect with the small, still voice inside them and recognize their power to rewrite the narrative of their lives.
You are releasing a song each month as part of a project. Can you please share a bit about it?
Yeah, that’s been a fun project!
It started out at the end of 2022 when I thought about putting together a one-woman production called “Soundtrack in Progress,” where I wanted to follow on from my first TEDx Talk, “How Songwriting and Music Saved Me After Having Ten Brain Surgeries.” SIP was going to be a song-by-song account of pivotal moments in my life where I’ve endured hardship and written a song to help me get through and overcome it.
The project failed miserably.
However, when I looked back at the songs I had planned for the project, I realized that – not only were a majority of the songs written by my teen or early 20’s self, but they all “coincidentally” aligned with a cause or awareness month that is honored within the United States, so I decided to do just that:
Release a song every month in support of sexual assault awareness month, depression awareness month, don’t be a bully month, drug and alcohol addiction awareness month, and minority mental health month, to name but a few.
More with Emma G on healing through music
What inspires you, professionally or personally?
Honestly? Life inspires me. Conversations with people, experiences I endure, books I read, and things I see on the news.
But I think that at this stage of my life, a big part of my inspiration comes from my soon-to-be-husband. He’s a Krav Maga instructor, so while his focus is more on physical self-defense, I often see music as an art in emotional self-defense. So when we discuss current events or “aha moments” from when we’ve been coaching, I’m often inspired to write about it.
When you feel unsure of yourself, what do you do? Talk with your partner, go out in nature, or…?
I’m acutely aware that we all have 5 to 6 facets of self: our emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, social, and financial selves. As such, when I’m feeling wonky, I try to engage in activities that satisfy at least three of these components.
Walking or running in nature ALWAYS helps. Meditation and songwriting also help. Talking with my fiance and cuddling my cat also helps!
Getting back to your career, aside from your songs, what other ways do you reach out to help others heal?
I’ve been a vocal teacher for almost 18 years now, and you’d be surprised how helpful that is for my clients when it comes to their stress levels and combatting their overwhelm and/or trauma. However, in 2019, I expanded this mission to include empowerment through songwriting to help my clients.
With the combination of coaching, music, focus on emotional safety, and some key teaching principles from the Indigenous Pasifika people, I help young people in particular work through their trauma, understand themselves better, and create a musical almost-blueprint on how to come out of their adverse experiences with resilience, self-acceptance, and self-love.
Wow. You are no doubt touching many lives. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What’s that saying? Man plans, and God laughs. Five years ago, I would have told you that all I wanted was to continue to do music full-time and have an impact on the world, however small. However, at the beginning of the pandemic, one of my co-DC-based musician buddies called me the musical version of Oprah.
Four years later, I’ve spoken and sung TWICE now at two different TEDx events. Music helps to amplify information.
Which I think is rather telling of my future.
So, in the next five years, I’d like to build my edutainment portfolio even further: speaking and singing for schools, universities, and workplaces. Reminding everyone that their voices matter and that they, too, don’t need to let the world write their songs for them.
I’m currently working on my third book, named after the second TEDx presentation I did earlier this year: From Pain to Playlist: Turning Struggles into Song.
Thank you for being here and inspiring us, Emma G!
Thank you, Emma G, for opening up your world of music, healing, and empowerment to us. The way you spread messages of self-acceptance and self-love through music is truly inspiring.
Connect with Emma G at her website, where you can learn more about her youth empowerment services, reach out to her for public speaking opportunities, and find her music. She is also on social media at @emmagmusic, except for Facebook, where she is @emmagspeaks.
Are you a singer? Do you use music or a different art form as a healing medium? What part of this interview resonates most with you? Comment below!
Top photo of Emma G: Taken by Jonna Michelle Photography and used with Emma’s permission.