As it did to most musicians, the pandemic presented a challenge for Emma G, a singer-songwriter whose life and livelihood often revolves around performing in front of people. When covid-19 closed venues and canceled concerts, the New Zealand-born talent, like many of her peers, took to new avenues to connect with audiences, including live-streaming and podcasting.
Emma also recognized that young people were particularly at risk of developing trauma as a result of the pandemic and political climate, and that she could help. She started a coaching practice called Youth Empowerment Through Songwriting but wasn’t content to just preach the power of music — she needed to practice it, too. She spent February of last year writing a song a day.
“I was writing some material that … explored parts of my psyche that I hadn’t given myself an opportunity to heal from in my previous years of therapy and songwriting and whatnot,” she says.
“There has been a real opportunity for us to reexamine our lives, our souls, our growth, how we’re conducting our lives,” she says. “We don’t necessarily need to be perfect all the time to show up, be powerful, tell the truth [and] empower people.”
Empowerment runs deep throughout “I Am.” “Fighter” is an anthem for those battling depression and suicidal thoughts; “Still Singing” is about getting back up after being knocked down; “You Won’t Hear Me” is about a Kiwi coming to grips with America’s systemic racism. The title track is the culmination of Emma’s deep dive into manifestation, affirmation, meditation and spirituality that she began during the pandemic as a way to become a more loving, compassionate and empathetic person.
“‘I am’ are the two most powerful words in the English language, because whatever you say after them dictates who you are,” she says.
After those powerful two words, Emma G will soon add “TED Talk speaker” and “author” to a list that already includes “singer-songwriter” and “coach.” And as she prepares to celebrate the release of “I Am” at DC9, her ambition isn’t just to pack out the D.C. club, but to pack it out with people who are on a similar wavelength.
“This sounds horrible, but I want people to cry when I’m performing,” she says. “I want people to feel things and leave every show feeling able to take on the frickin’ world.”
May 1 at 8 p.m. at DC9, 1940 Ninth St. NW. dc9.club. $15. Proof of vaccination required for admittance.