Emily King: Five Essential Albums

Emily King (photo courtesy of ATO Records, PR)
by Kara Manning | 08/30/2023 | 6:46am

Emily King (photo courtesy of ATO Records, PR)

Women's history is world history, but care is taken in March to elevate the message and mission of Women's History Month. We've asked some of the "Women We Love" to write about their "Five Essential Albums" for FUV.

It's been four years since Emily King released an album, 2019's Scenery — but that will change soon for the native New Yorker who has been nominated for multiple Grammys, most recently in 2021 for "Best R&B Performance" for "See Me," released in support of Black Lives Matter.

Her new album, Special Occasion, is due out on May 5 and it finds King with a singular mission: "It’s about trying to find some kind of light in the middle of your hardest times." There's definitely joy in the playful funk of the album's recent single "Medal," and an equally lighthearted "unofficial" video for the song.

You can track King's childhood in her selections for FUV's "Five Essential Albums" — especially her poignant pick of her parents' album in a mix that veers between multiple genres and moods.

Emily King: Five Essential Albums

Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Tea For The Tillerman
Truly one of my favorite songwriters ever! Yusuf achieves everything I love about music in just one minute on the title track, “Tea For The Tillerman,” beginning so gently and building with this emotional swell. The arrangements on "Wild World," "Where Do the Children Play," and "Miles From Nowhere" follow so closely to Yusuf’s vocal rhythm and timing; every instrument is in sync telling the story so naturally. The best!

Michael Jackson, Dangerous
This record was such a big influence on me. I love the industrial sound of Teddy Riley’s production. Glass shattering, cars honking. It always felt like an extension of New York City. And I love that there is absolutely no subtlety in this record! Everything is loud and in your face: "Jam," "Remember the Time," "Will You Be There." The choir intro on "Will You Be There" beginning an eight-minute long pop gospel song ... one of my favorite MJ songs.

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
Maybe the most perfect piece of music ever. It’s almost a like a miracle the confidence and beauty of this album. Every time I hear it, it feels like magic.

Kim and Marion, If You Could See Me Now
My parents [Kim Kalesti and Marion Cowings] made really beautiful records together when I was a kid. A jazz vocal duo, this is definitely one of my favorite albums of theirs. They recorded everything live in studio with a big band, and their vocal blend and style is something I’ve been trying to emulate ever since. "If You Could See Me Now," "This is Always," and "Why Did I Choose You" are all such incredible songs and arrangements. I was, and still am, deeply influenced by these records.

Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly
What can I say? Missy defines swagger and excellence! This record got me through my middle school insecurities. I had the CD in my Discman ready to go, ha. I didn’t realize then how rare it was for a woman to be successfully producing, singing, writing, rapping and in total charge of her image against all odds. "Beep Me 911," "Sock It 2 Me," "They Don't Want to F**k Wit Me," were all my jams and some of my first introductions to Timbaland’s production. Missy and Timbaland’s collaborations together were a major part of the soundtrack of my life.

- Emily King
March 2023

Emily King kicks off a North American tour in May, bookended by local stops at the South Orange Performing Arts Center in South Orange, NJ on May 5 and New York's Terminal 5 on May 31.

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