OffWestEnd talks to Emma Smith about her new album of showtunes, “Meshuga Baby”, launched on Thursday 9 June.

What first attracted you to singing show tunes? 

The character led lyrics allow me instant access to get closer to the soul of my listener. The stories in show tunes are universally relatable and thus I feel that I get closer to my audience as we share in the experience of my delivering the song and them receiving it. I have many beautiful memories of singing ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’, in the super slow way that I do it, and watching the humans in front of me crack open, it’s humbling.

If you could pick any one person to work with on your next project, who would it be? 

Quincy Jones! I had the honour of joining Team Quincy Jones for a show in Finland in April. Getting to sing his incredible arrangements was a dream come true. I can only imagine how special it would be to work with him on my own music,

What is your opinion of Off West End theatre, in general? 

I think it’s essential and important to showcase the creative fringe, and that is exactly what Off West End does. This is where the magic happens, and where stars are born.

What was the most inspiring performance you have ever seen? Why? 

Barbra Streisand, hyde park, 2019, the story telling, the voice, the poise, the class, the humility and confidence all at once. I’m in awe.

What piece of work are you the most proud of? 

‘Meshuga Baby’, my new album (out June 10th), self funded, self released, self backed.  It’s been 10 years since my last album, I have a lot to say. Every tune comes straight from my core. It’s joyful, heartbreaking, ridiculous, camp, Jewish, bold, silly & truthful . I am deeply proud of this album.

What things in your personal life do you draw from when you perform? 

My Jewishness. I came to learn about my Jewish ancestry when I was an adult, because of family trauma hiding it for generations. I have immersed myself in learning about Jewish culture, the history and my identity as a Jew. I have since become highly aware and informed about the incredibly weighty offering that Jews have given to Jazz & theatre. I’m so proud to be a Jew and it comes out in my performances and my music.

Who is the best musical performer on Off West End today? 

Well.. if you like Jazz, I would have to say… hmmm… ME! Haha, but seriously, how am I supposed to choose from such an array of talent?!

Musical, comedy or drama – what’s your preference to watch? 

Musical, all the way. Give me something pre-1970’s, give me Gershwin, give me tap shoes and i’m in heaven.

Can you tell our readers about what you’re doing now/next? 

My joyfully explosive jazz album ‘Meshuga Baby’ is my absolute focus for the foreseeable, I’m looking forward to my album launch on June 9th (this Thursday!) at JW3, performing with the incredible Jamie Safir trio with whom I recorded the album. You can join us in real life or online for the live stream! Watch this space by joining my mailing list for new projects (plenty in the pipeline!).

Emma Smith’s Album “Meshuga Baby” is released this Friday, 10th June. Her live album launch will be at JW3 in London this Thursday, 9th June. For more information and to book tickets please visit: https://www.jw3.org.uk/whats-on/american-ish-songbook

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