Photo by Emily Hurd
EMILY WHITE is a quiet force – a singer, songwriter and trained guitarist who stands out “conspicuously from the pack…with her hushed, preternaturally haunting vocal delivery” (Connect Savannah). Her potent images and dynamic melodies are things you hold onto, like (to quote one of her lyrics) “a stone in your pocket rubbed smooth.” Shunning the social media spotlight, White has slowly and steadily built her fan base the hard way – by dedicating herself to her songwriting craft, forging lasting musical friendships, and logging thousands of miles in her car.

A Southerner at heart and Midwesterner by choice, White grew up in Memphis, TN and now lives in Chicago, IL. Her latest album Songs You Didn’t Know I Wrote About You is a collection of songs she wrote to people from all different points in her life—unread musical letters to friends, mentors, fellow songwriters, old loves, and maybe even you. Most importantly, none of the songs’ subjects know that she’s written about them. As a result, all thirteen tracks are unflinching and instantly relatable. Emotional realness, an ear for poetry, and a broad musical range define this record, as they have White’s entire career.  

As a kid in Memphis, White fell in love with the guitar at age 12 and saved up her babysitting money to buy one. Abandoning the competitive soccer that had taken up most of her time, she devoted herself completely to music, taking lessons from beloved local musician Bill McMath, who in turn invited her to play on his jazz gigs around Memphis.  At McMath’s urging, White applied and was accepted to Berklee College of Music, where she pursued guitar and got a degree in music production and engineering. It was during this time that she worked as a tour manager for award-winning singer/songwriter Edie Carey, who was establishing her career as a touring musician. Getting an insider’s look at life on the road, White knew this was what she wanted to pursue. 

White’s first full-length album 12 Ways to Live (2007) won her honorable mentions in the Billboard Song Contest and the SongDoor Song Contest. Then, after spending time writing music, practicing French, and eating pastries in Paris, she released The Resolution EP (2010), returning to the US to hit the road full-time, performing with Peter Mulvey, Meg Hutchinson, Ember Swift, Bitch, and her friend Edie Carey. As the odometer on her Toyota Matrix ticked up toward 225,000 miles, White ventured back to her home state of Tennessee in 2014 to record her career-making album Staking Flags in the Valley in Nashville with producer Kai Welch (whom White had met at the famed Planet Bluegrass in Colorado). The release of that album brought many accolades, including being named an Acoustic Music Awards Finalist and a Telluride Troubadour Finalist

Following the success of Staking Flags in the Valley, White began working on a new album in Nashville. Just as she was readying the album for release after the birth of her first child, the pandemic hit. Her album was put on hold…until now.  In 2023, Songs You Didn’t Know I Wrote About You is finally getting heard by her many devoted fans as well as new listeners. Coming full circle, her first single “Radio” pays tribute to her hometown of Memphis and the blues and soul music that first inspired her. It charted in the Top 10 on folk radio and gives a first glimpse of a songwriter who is quietly taking over the folk and Americana scene.

When she’s not playing shows, White is still immersed in the rich local music scene of Chicago, often attending shows and meeting up with her long-running songwriter group. She also continues to play soccer in a women’s league, and enjoys building forts and cardboard campers with her talkative three year-old. 


“Emily White’s new CD is a stunner!  Well-crafted songs graced with poetic lyrics and beautifully sung, enhanced by exceptional musical arrangements and production quality.  One of the best CD’s I’ve received this year.”
– Lilli Kuzma, Host of “Folk Festival” on WDCB Public Radio

2015 Acoustic Music Awards Finalist

2016 Telluride Troubadour Finalist

1. “Staking Flags in the Valley” Review
by Preston Frazier

photo by Heather Miller
Emily White’s just-released Staking Flags in the Valley is a worthy follow up to her 2010 EP The Resolution, and an excellent addition to recorded works dating back to 2005. The Chicago-based Memphis native blends an expressive and earnest vocal quality with evocative and colorful lyrics, combining her vocal and lyrical acumen with understated production. The result is an album which is more than the sum of its rich parts.

A 13-track crowd-funded project, Emily White’s Staking Flags in the Valley has plenty of stellar examples of her record-making skill and songwriting chops — perhaps my favorite of which is “Borrowed Man.”

The song starts with a tasty piano flourish which is intertwined with White’s acoustic guitar. Soon, the lightly shuffled drums come in just behind the vocals and the listener is on the edge of their seat. Lyrically, Emily White covers familiar cheater territory, yet does it in a sympathetic and tasteful way to belie the music.

“Borrowed Man” is my favorite track from Staking Flags in the Valley this week. There are a bunch of gems on Emily White’s fine new album which take its place from time to time.

Link to full article:

2. The Resolution EP Review
Record Review: Emily White
By Vincent Scarpa

Emily White
The Resolution EP

Emily White, a self-described indie folk singer/songwriter from Chicago, presents her newest release in The Resolution EP, the pay-off of the year for White, who embraces the DIY method, right down to self-set deadlines. The resulting six tracks on the release, most of which seem like sneak peeks down all the avenues, show White embarking on her continued musical journey.

“Little Lifeboat” opens the disc, and you might think you hear the soft beginnings of a Metric tune, with distorted guitars and a clever melody. The next two that follow, “Robot Hearts” and “One Wish,” bring the record into softer passages, utilizing simple instrumentation and catchy major chords.

But it’s “Underworld” that is the standout track of the release, where White gets it right on all accounts – the lyrics are strong, the melodic lines are fresh, and White’s vocals bring the listener to Kathleen Edwards’ territory. And with a stellar track like this, it’s easy to forgive the minor glitches and flaws of the record as a whole. Emily White proves that the DIY genre can churn out some great, great music. (Self-released)

Produced by Scott Lamps and Emily White // Recorded by Mark Whitcomb at DNA Studios, Madison, WI // Mixed by Pete Weiss at Verdant Studios, Athens VT // Mastered by Peter Linnane

3. Asheville Citizen-Times Review
October 12, 2009
by Casey Blake

It isn’t too hard to find a singer-songwriter today performing deeply personal lyrics and strumming an acoustic guitar in the Asheville area. Emily White adds an infusion of humor, audibly diverse musical influences and a truly singular sound that may leave even the most severe folk cynics entertained. She plays Tuesday night at the Back Room of the Flat Rock Wine Shoppe in Flat Rock.

Her debut album, “Every Pulse,” won her an Honorable Mention in the Billboard Song Contest and landed her a spot on the compilation CD “Womenfolk: Volume One.”

“My earlier stuff was all really personal about my life and my own experiences,” White said. “Recently, though, I’ve tried to branch out and write from other perspectives and even from stories I’ve heard. Meeting so many people on the road and just holding a guitar every night for hours on stage, it really inspires you.”

Her second release, “12 Ways to Live,” proves her talent is dynamic beyond introspective acoustic tunes. “I’m so intrigued by the intersection of politics and relationships, and how people relate to each other in the world we live in today,” White said.

White has become known across the country not only for her music, but also for her unique approach on stage. “My songs are somewhat serious and often even sad so I try to infuse funny stories and notes from the road, and really tell people about the songs and what’s behind them,” she said.  “It’s really not just a music show. I try to create a real connection and interact with the audience. That’s what I love about acoustic music — it’s that intimate connection that makes it so special.”

Casey Blake writes about entertainment for the Citizen-Times.