Even on four hours sleep, Emmy Meli would always journal. During her shifts at the coffee shop, the 22-year-old scribbled between serving tables. While delivering drinks on the golf course, she’d steal glances at her notebook. Then on her day-off, Meli would record the week's writings; tackling, in one such session, a track inspired by a recent dream. The song soon to be heard around the world was titled, “I AM WOMAN.”
“I came from nothing, I don’t have connections,” she says. “There are so many nights where I laid in bed, thinking, Why am I torturing myself? Why am I working this hard for no one to pay attention? You’re doing it because you have to.”
Within weeks of the single’s release, Emmy Meli’s monthly listeners had increased a million times over. A-listers selected “I AM WOMAN” as soundtrack for their visual content, and a support group for trans women told the Long Beach-native her song had become their anthem.
“I just wrote something to remind myself of my power,” Meli explains of the song’s inception. “When I posted it I had no intention of starting a movement — I just wanted to bring music that had a message into the mainstream.”
Citing the likes of Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill as idols, it was perhaps inevitable that Meli would feel most fulfilled as a mouthpiece for contemporary feminism. Instead of industry accolades and record-breaking streams, her aspirations include founding an animal rescue center or hiring a food truck to feed Los Angeles’s homeless population. For now, it’s enough for her music to feed those who feel adrift.
“As amazing as celebrity endorsements or the numbers are, I don’t really care about it,” she reveals. “I think the biggest accolade is receiving messages about how empowered they’ve felt after listening to my music. The fact I get to be the person that’s there from them, even just with music, is so important to me.”
Growing up in Long Beach the daughter of two artists, music was a similar crutch for Meli. Her childhood home’s walls were lined with CDs and the Beach Boys or Minnie Ripperton served as her alarm tone. Motown and jazz began to influence Meli’s hypnotic vocal stylings, and by nineyears-old she was writing her own music. Today, lyrics still dictate the route of her songwriting.
“I have always been so attracted to the artists that sing with feeling,” Meli explains. “I want to tell stories, take people on a journey. Telling millions of people your deepest darkest secrets and insecurities isn't easy, but I want people to hear me.”
Emmy Meli’s upcoming EP straddles the genres she was raised on. Jazz, RnB, pop and funk or contribute to a musical mosaic that she describes as a “sentence from start to finish.” The project’s 2022 release will mark a new chapter for the artist — even aligning with the ‘222’ she has tattooed on her inner wrist. Now, she just has one job, and her music does the serving.
“The more you push through and the harder you work, the more rewarding this is. For a long time I didn’t give myself credit for how hard I worked and how talented I am, but now I’m owning my power. My life is beginning.”