Breathing life into earlier music

April 25, 2019

For 10 years, Emily Stilwell has been performing music. For over two decades, she has played the piano

 

“The piano was my earliest fascination with music,” Stilwell said.

 

At a young age, Stilwell’s father introduced her to a wide variety of soul and funk music. That’s how she found her lifelong love.

 

“Dancing in the kitchen was a family ritual,” Stilwell said.

 

At 12 years old, Stilwell swiped an oldies CD from her uncle. In private, Stilwell enjoyed the few Dean Martin songs on it.

 

"He quickly became my first love," Stilwell said. "It was his influence that sparked my interest in the world of jazz music."

 

Another instance that fueled her interest was that Stilwell also used to play her great-grandmother's sheet music from the 1900s-1920s. As Stilwell grew older, she had an epiphany. A lot of the music of that era might fall through the cracks.

 

As a result, "It became a passion of mine to breathe life back into earlier music," Stilwell said.

 

"Once I came of age I met and followed a few blues players, one in particular by the name of Mudcat," Stilwell said.

 

She started to learn the songs and discovered the fascinating stories of the players who had written them. Now, it’s a hobby of hers to seek out the earliest edition and the tales of how these jazz standards came to be.

 

"I want to present them as best I can with the hope that it brings listeners to feel what the author had intended them to and to honor the composer’s memory in that way.”

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