Emily Bear is a wunderkind of sorts—she’s a jazz pianist worthy of any stage this world has to offer, a prodigy of Quincy Jones, and more than any of that she is a young artist on track to change the music with her style and personality. Did I mention she is only 11-years old? We caught up with Emily as she continues an international tour through Korea (July 23-26), Tokyo (July 26-August 2), and Hiroshima (August 2-4) with Quincy at her side. Check out what experience this young artist has had as we discuss her history and where she is headed.

Diversity Quincy Jones

What are some of your first memories of playing music?

Well, it seems like music has always been around—my mom sings and my brother played piano. I started playing piano when I was two and I started composing when I was three.

What was the process like for you to start composing?

When I was younger, I was doing a bunch of orchestrating and film scoring and then I started doing jazz and some other stuff.

What was the first song that you actually got to record?

I made a CD when I was five because my mom and dad wanted me to remember how I played when I was younger. But then people started to want to buy them [laughs].

Take us through the making of your Diversity record from writing the songs to working with Quincy Jones and recording the record.

 Well, I had about thirty songs that I thought would be good for the CD, so I gave the thirty songs to Quincy and he chose 17 of them. We recorded all 17 and afterwards whittled them down to 13—those are the ones you hear on the CD.

Were those compositions you had written in the past few years or specifically for the record?

A bunch of them I had composed in the past few months, but a couple of them were from past CDs that I did with a trio.

What do you like about working with Quincy?

Oh, it’s so fun to work with him! The fact that he’s one of the most amazing producers/arrangers/composers worldwide. He’s just so much fun to work with and he is so down to earth. He’s not overpowering or anything; he lets you give ideas too. I love working with him.

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What is the best piece of advice he has given you thus far?

 He said, “Your music is only as good as the person you are.”

That’s pretty amazing advice. On that note, what do you like to do outside of music?

 I love to bake, do arts and crafts, and play with my friends.

I got the opportunity to come out to one of your shows and it seemed like you truly enjoyed playing with the trio. Tell me about that.

 Yeah it was so much fun to play with the trio.

And Quincy kept calling for encores from his seat in the audience. Were those pieces planned?

 [laughs] No I did not plan to play the songs at the end.

Are you happy with how the Diversity record is being received?

 Yeah, it reached Number 3 on the Billboard charts.

What’s next for you? More records?

 I’m always working on new compositions. I’m traveling this summer with Quincy to Korea and Tokyo and some other places.

If you had the chance to work with any other artist, who would it be?

I would love to work with John Williams. There are so many incredible artists though that I would love to work with.

Interview by Eric Sandler (@ericsandler)


Grab a copy of Emily Bear’s Diversity Amazon | iTunes


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