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Emily King

Singer/songwriter Emily King has been honing a highly sophisticated mix of contemporary pop and traditional soul since the release of her more R&B-oriented East Side Story (2007). An auspicious debut for the native New Yorker, the album -- produced by Chucky Thompson and issued on Clive Davis' J Records -- was nominated for a Grammy Award, after which King struck up a long-term creative partnership with Jeremy Most. She self-released her acclaimed second album, The Switch (2015), and has since recorded for ATO. Her elegant popcraft and deeply nuanced arrangements have continued to be showcased on Scenery (2019), the all-acoustic collection Sides (2020), and Special Occasion (2023). "Look at Me Now," a Scenery highlight, and "See Me," a non-album single written and recorded in support of Black Lives Matter, earned King her second and third Grammy nominations. Born in New York City in 1985, King was exposed to music at a young age, often traveling with her musician parents, Kim Kalesti and Marion Cowings, a respected jazz vocal duo. By the time she was 16, she'd left school, earned her GED, and started focusing her efforts on singing, writing, and cutting her teeth in classic Manhattan venues like CBGB and the Bitter End. In 2004, King signed a deal with Sony imprint J Records and made a guest appearance on Nas' album Street's Disciple, which was produced by famed Bad Boy Entertainment production team the Hitmen. One of the Hitmen, Chucky Thompson, went on to produce King's 2007 debut album, East Side Story, which proved to be a breakout release, earning her a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album. Tours and opening slots for major acts like John Legend, Alicia Keys, and Erykah Badu followed, even as King's J Records tenure ended in 2008. Moving out of the major-label system opened up new creative opportunities, and over the next few years, her music underwent a shift toward a more soulful and sophisticated pop sound. King's classy 2011 EP Seven paired her with producer Jeremy Most, who would become her primary collaborator in the years to come. European tours with Maroon 5 and Emeli Sandé followed as King continued to refine her sound with singles like 2012's "Ordinary Heart" and 2014's "The Distance." In 2015, King finally returned to the album format, releasing her sophomore LP, The Switch, via her own independent Making Music label. Co-produced and written with Most, the record cemented her transformation from the slicker mainstream R&B of her debut to the more elegant pop and soul of her later singles. Signing with ATO Records, King returned in 2018 with the singles "Remind Me" and "Look at Me," which led to the release of Scenery early the following year. King and Most recorded the album in a studio they built in the garage of their Catskills home. The track "Look at Me Now" from the album went on to receive a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song. In 2020, King released Sides, featuring acoustic versions of previously released material, and also issued the stand-alone single "See Me," which was subsequently nominated for Grammy in the category of Best R&B Performance. Special Occasion, an emotionally rounded set written with Most in the aftermath of a breakup, followed in 2023. Contributions were made by the likes of labelmate Nick Hakim, Abe Rounds, and Lukas Nelson.
© Timothy Monger & Andy Kellman /TiVo


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