Emily Smith (born 1981) is a Scottish folk singer from Dumfries and Galloway. She went to school at Wallace Hall Academy and has a degree in Scottish music from The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She is married to New Zealand-born fiddle player Jamie McClennan.
Emily's childhood was spent dancing to music, rather than performing it, in her mother's dance school. She grew up assuming everyone knew how to do a highland fling and weekends were spent dancing at ceilidhs rather than nightclubs. Aged seven she started out on piano; moved onto snare drum in the local pipe band and subsequently found a passion for piano accordion, where at the age of eighteen she was National Mod champion. But it wasn't until a solo with the school choir in her late teens that Emily discovered her singing voice. She moved to Glasgow in 1999 where she gained an Honours degree in Scottish Music from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. With principal study of Scots Song, she also studied accordion and piano.
Emily is one of the leading singers of the contemporary Scottish folk scene. Her powerful, clear vocals have gained her award winning, worldwide recognition. As a songwriter Emily has been likened to "a Scottish Joni Mitchell", but as a passionate collector she is equally adept at presenting fresh and evocative interpretations of traditional songs.
Winning BBC Radio Scotland's Young Traditional Music of the Year Award in 2002 gave Emily the confidence and impetus she needed to pursue a career in music. In the same year she met New Zealand born multi-instrumentalist Jamie McClennan who had travelled to Scotland to pursue his own music career. Jamie joined Emily's band initially on fiddle and has been an integral part of her sound ever since, helping to arrange and produce Emily's albums and has now settled into the role of lead guitarist in her band.
Emily soon found her interpretation of traditional Scots songs coupled with her own compositions were gathering appeal both in the UK and further afield and the last eight years have seen her regularly perform to audiences throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, USA and Canada.
Emily was the first ever winner from Scotland when her song "Edward of Morton" won the Folk Category of the USA Songwriting Competition in 2005. Another of her songs, "Always a Smile", about the life of her Polish grandmother, was short listed in the final ten.
Her 2008 release Too Long Away again brought awards when in the same year she was named 'Scots Singer of the Year' by public vote at the Scots Trad Music Awards. In 2009 Emily and Jamie released a duo album titled 'Adoon Winding Nith' to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland's bard Robert Burns, who at one time lived only a few miles from where Emily grew up.
Smith's 2011 release, Traiveller's Joy, features songs written on the road throughout 2010 beautifully blending alongside traditional material sourced from the travelling people of Scotland. Emily continues to draw inspiration from her home area of rural Dumfriesshire in South West Scotland but this release sees her writing from a more personal viewpoint than before. Covers include Rick Kemp's "Somewhere Along the Road" and "Waltzing's For Dreamers" by Richard Thompson. Guest musicians feature an international line up including Nashville's Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Dublin's Alan Doherty on flute and whistles, Australia's James Fagan on bouzouki and Icelandic/Scot Signy Jakobsdottir on percussion with regular band mates Duncan Lyall on double bass and producer Jamie McClennan on guitar and fiddle.
Alongside her solo career Emily has worked with an array of artists from the folk scene and beyond including Phil Cunningham, Eddi Reader, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Karine Polwart and Chris Wood.