A journey, blown in every direction of the wind, brings home one Texas native to embrace her roots.
Emily Bell, Austin-based singer and songwriter, flirts with what could be called a classic sound.
The self-described artist of “technicolored rock and soul” found her muse at a young age. A unique kind of talent—music—seemed to have come second nature while sitting outside of her mother’s rock’n’roll rehearsals as a child.
She said that there was something natural about it; that it drew her in.
It was this and her father’s vinyl record collection of the Grateful Dead, Prince, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Elton John, The Stones and beyond that triggered her escalade into a life of performance.
“I’ve never even wanted anything else,” she said. “Music and performing are what drives me. What keeps me going is my love for it, and how I can’t even see myself doing anything else.”
During the awkward preteen years in College Station, Bell began the first step in her career singing in a local community theater, and any other music-hole that would have her.
“It’s not an easy path. If you’re dedicated enough, and if this is what you really love, then embrace the hard times.” Emily Bell on persevering at music.
Over the years, life would continue to happen for the musician. From bouncing back and forth between Houston and Austin in high school; taking off to New York city in her rowdy 18s; to heading west for Los Angeles, she ran the roads that were less traveled.
At 19, while bartending and jamming gigs when she could in Houston, she met delta-blues enthusiast John Evans, singer and songwriter. The two hit it off at first impression, and went on to collaborate together for Bell’s debut album, In Technicolor.
In 2006, during a four-year stint in California, Bell sang and recorded with the former members of Tony Toni Tone, as well as Lucy Pearl.
But Texas had always been home for the composer. Thus inspiring her to pack her bags to make refuge in humble Austin in 2010, where she would become re-acquainted with old comrade, John Evans.
Once reunited, Bell and Evans would go on to begin their creative process again by developing her latest record, Back to the Way I Was.
“I would definitely say that this record has been my biggest accomplishment, so far,” Bell said. “I’ve had the pleasure to be able to work with a lot of great people, from being in California songwriting. But really coming to Austin and sitting with John (Evans), and writing, and producing this record has kind of felt like my life’s work up to now.”
Since reconciling with her Texas-home and releasing her latest album, the artist says that her concentration has been on getting the band together, really perfecting the show, all while building a fan base in Austin.
“You know I’m still fairly new to Austin, and haven’t developed a relationship with the city. It’s just been kind of this progression for me to make a lot of friends in the music community,” Bell said.
“It can be dysfunctional at times, but I mean, beneath it there’s a lot of love and support.” Emily Bell on the Austin music scene.
She went on to tell about how her description of the local music scene would be one of a big family.
“It can be dysfunctional at times, but I mean, beneath it there’s a lot of love and support,” Bell said. “It’s not like any other scene I’ve ever encountered. It feels like everybody here isn’t worried about it being for money, for fame. It really is down to the core, the drive for the love of music. That’s what drives everyone in this community as a musician, and that’s not the case in a lot of other places. Musicians here play for nothing and it’s because they just want to play.”
Over the course of this next year, Bell plans to continue writing and working towards recording another album.
She said that her goal is to continue moving forward.
“I always want to have something to work towards. I set a lot of goals for myself to moving towards the future and building my career,” the songstress said. “I can’t have any expectations for next year, but I can have goals.”
From writing her songs about personal traumas; to her energetic, smoothly, rolling-stone style; to the description of the “utter euphoria” of watching her music come to life, Bell has made an initial mark on Austin’s local music scene, even though life has not always been the kindest to her journey.
“Don’t give up, keep going, embrace the times that it gets hard,” Bell said. “It’s not an easy path. If you’re dedicated enough, and if this is what you really love, then embrace the hard times. Because you’re going to get them. And really enjoy the good times, realize when they’re happening. Don’t take anything for granted,” she said. “And don’t give up.”
Have a listen to Emily Bell’s “Back to the Way I Was” below.