In his illustrious career, Quincy Jones had seen it all – or so he may have thought before he came across Emily Bear. Only 11 years old, Emily is one of the most astonishing musical talents of our time – composing, orchestrating, and performing in a bewilderingly diverse collection of styles. Some of her huge talent will be on display in the appropriately-named album Diversity, her first album for Concord Records/Quest Records, which Jones produced.
Diversity was recorded at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles – the same Studio that Quincy recorded his Back On The Block album and Bad with Michael Jackson, thus passing on the torch of a mighty tradition to one of the youngest members of a new musical generation. Using her own jazz trio handpicked by Quincy, Emily demonstrates both her versatility and an open-hearted melodic soul at the piano, writing all of the selections herself.
“She’s the most delightful human being I’ve ever met in my life,” Quincy says. “And her music is the same way. I am at once astounded and inspired by the enormous talent that Emily embodies. With the ability to seamlessly move from Classical to Jazz and Be-bop, she shows as much musical prowess as pianists/composers twice her age, and I am thrilled to be working with her. She’s astounding, man … she’s astounding. She plays like she’s 40 years old. She is the complete 360-degree package, and there are no limits to the musical heights she can reach.”
On Diversity, Emily shares several of her reflective mood compositions (among them “Blue Note,” “Alika,” “Jessie’s Song” and “Tutti Cuore”) and demonstrates her ability to get down with a Latin feeling in the rhythm section (the catchy “Hot Peppers” and self-explanatory “Salsa Americana”). There is a specific Spanish flavor in “Peralada” – inspired by the Catalan city where she first performed this piece at a music festival – and utilizes her classical technique to a tee in “Reflections.” “Northern Lights” is the piece for which Emily won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition Award at the age of 6. And “Q,” of course, refers to the nickname of Emily’s producer, which after a heartfelt slow intro, turns into a jaunty jazz-trio tribute to the ever-youthful spirit of her mentor.
Emily plays all of her music from memory – even 45 page classical concertos. “I memorize them (the notes) pretty quickly,” she says, adding modestly, “then it’s all about polishing the details.” George Gershwin and Debussy are currently her favorite classical composers. Her jazz favorites include Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, and, of course, Quincy Jones. Emily says working with Quincy is, “absolutely amazing. He’s so special in every way and he’s so fun to work with. He’s about the best mentor anyone could dream of.”
A child of this century, born Aug. 30, 2001 in Rockford IL where she still lives with her parents and older brother and sister, Emily started to show extraordinary musical talent practically from the cradle. “There was never a definitive date when it began – it’s always been,” says Andrea. “As a baby, she would sing back lullabies to me in perfect pitch. By 18 months, she was experimenting constantly at the piano. At just past 2 years, my mother thought it was my son playing. She was composing tangible pieces since she was 3. By the time she was 4, she was having pieces published and distributed by Hal Leonard.”
At age 5, Emily made her concert debut at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, playing a 40-minute solo program performing classical pieces side by side with jazz standards and her own compositions. She was invited to perform at the White House at age 6. Later that year, she opened for Ramsey Lewis and his Trio with a 30-minute set of her own. Her orchestral debut came at age 7, playing Mozart Piano Concerto no. 23, K488 and by age 8, she was playing concerts abroad in Italy and China. At the age of 9 she made her Carnegie Hall debut with a 110-piece orchestra, a 220-voice choir, and R&B soloists performing one of her compositions, “Peace – we are the future.”
Emily broke into the national spotlight at age 6 when she appeared as a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres Show performing Mozart, jazz and an original song she composed. She was invited back on the show five more times – all in a span of two years, performing original music at each visit. She has since been featured on several major news programs, including Good Morning America, ABC World News Report with Diane Sawyer, ABC Nightline, and the Katie Couric Show. Internationally, Emily has been featured in stories on Swiss, German, Australian, Italian and Chinese television, among others.
In 2011, Emily had yet another big year when she made her debut at the iconic Hollywood Bowl. With more than 11,000 people looking on, Emily played a medley of her own compositions, “The Bumble Boogie” and performed “Miss Celie’s Blues” (from the score of “The Color Purple”) with singers Gloria Estefan, Patti Austin, Siedah Garrett and Nikki Yanofsky. That summer, Quincy also presented Emily at the 45th Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the Festival Castell in Peralada, Spain where she performed solo as well as with GRAMMY Award-winner, Esperanza Spalding.
Emily recently performed Schumann’s Piano Concerto in a minor with the Santa Fe Concert Association Symphony to a sell-out crowd, and premiered 8 new works of her own for orchestra. She also appeared with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra performing jazz standards to a capacity audience. Now that her hands are finally large enough to play it, she is learning Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” one of her all-time favorite pieces, for a concert series in Connecticut run by a member of the Gershwin family.
Emily is currently studying classical piano with the Chicago Symphony’s principal keyboardist Mary Sauer and jazz improvisation with Alan Swain. Emily also studies with Veda Kaplinsky, head of the piano department at Juillard and Ron Sadoff, head of NYU Film Scoring Department. One of Emily’s greatest loves is composing for film and she has already scored many short films. Yet like anyone her age, Emily has other interests as well; she loves swimming, ice skating, designing and making jewelry, baking, spending time with her family and friends, and going to the beach.
Equally important to Emily as the joy and fun of making music – is putting her talents to the service of good causes. Profits from each of her songbooks and previous five CDs are donated to charities such as: Susan G. Komen For The Cure, Children’s Hospitals of Los Angeles and Chicago, UNICEF, and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
The CD title represents the diversity of Emily’s style as well as the diversity of the cultures that are her musical influences. In turn, through her music, Emily has touched the souls of countless people worldwide and her natural joy and innate connection to the music, communicates emotion through every note.