GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - At age 3, Miss Emily was already singing before an audience at the church her father founded in Palisade 20-some years ago.
"My parents were in a band together before they married," Miss Emily said. "I'd come on stage with them at church. They discovered I learned the words (easily) and could hold the melody while they harmonized."
Miss Emily, who prefers to be known by her stage name, is the soulful singer of the funky, jazzy Project Groove, comprised of guitarist John Schultz and bass guitar player Steve Williams.
After growing up in Colorado, Miss Emily returned to her native New York where she worked professionally in theater as a singer and an actor. In 2005, she returned to the Grand Valley and began performing for the Cabaret Theatre, where she met Charles King, a "super amazing singer," Miss Emily said.
"He heard me singing backstage one day and asked me to sing in his band," Miss Emily said.
After King left the valley to tour nationally, band members Schultz and Williams continued as Project Groove - or, Project Groove with Miss Emily, when the three of them perform together as they did a few weeks ago for KAFM Community Radio station's holiday open house.
Miss Emily plays piano and guitar, but is more widely known for her singing. For years, she studied classical voice with Carol Ann Niles and Kathleen Ruhleder at Colorado Mesa University.
"I manipulated what they taught me to sound how I wanted," she said.
Learning proper voice technique while singing is important, Miss Emily said.
"A lot of pop singers need surgery, because they develop callouses on their vocal chords from improper use," she said. "I teach students so they don't strain or injure their vocal chords.
"Easy singing is healthy and sounds better. If the face is turning red, you're doing it wrong."
At 28, Miss Emily is making it in Grand Junction as a professional singer, voice instructor and mother of 8-year-old Katie, who "loves Aretha Franklin," and sometimes joins her mother on stage at special events, she said.
Miss Emily's favorite singer is the late rhythm and blues singer, Etta James.
"I love soul. The emotion, the groove of it; it is so moving. I love it."
Her biggest musical influence, however, are her parents, she said.
"They have encouraged and inspired me musically and emotionally every day of my life," Miss Emily said.
Miss Emily has always been a songwriter - as a kid she wrote songs for church, where she led the music section.
Songs come to her variously, including while riding in a car where she'll record a voice memo on her phone.
Other times she'll sit down at the piano and play a few chords and see what comes.
"The last song ('Sweet Sunlight') happened that way," she said. "It's about being in darkness, emotionally, and coming out of it, being back in the light."
She recently recorded a five-song EP titled "Miss Emily"; the official release will be Jan. 26 at Mesa Theater and Club, 538 Main St.
Miss Emily will perform that evening along with Williams and Schultz, drummer Fernie Garcia and saxophone player Bill Moody. Tickets to the show are $10, and include the CD.
"(Seth Schaeffer of Hoptocoptor Films) will also be recording a promotional video (at the event) so the more happy people the better," Miss Emily said.
Miss Emily co-hosts a radio program at Mix 104.3 F.M., which airs Thursdays from 3-6 p.m.