Meet Emily Harrison, ACC Birmingham alumni and now singer-songwriter. Emily is busy working on building a career in music, competing in music competitions, working on an EP, and is a finalist for Miss England 2022 but she’s not stopping there!
We sat down with her to find out more about what she’s been up to since she finished studying with us, and how she balances such a busy schedule.
Hi Emily, tell us about yourself!
Hi, I’m Emily. I’m 26 and from Birmingham. I’ve been singing and songwriting for years now, ever since I was young. I’m a very musical person and my background is mainly in music. I attended Access Creative College Birmingham’s Heath Mill Studios centre way back in 2014, studying Music Performance. I’m also qualified in business, a route I took after my time at ACC, and I’m also studying computer science.
More recently, I’ve been competing in beauty pageants, becoming a Miss England 2022 finalist. As part of competing in Miss England, I had the opportunity to perform music which reignited my passion for it and I realised I want to do it long-term. I started to build up my online presence and applied for a postgraduate commercial songwriting and music production MA with Tileyard London, which I’m presently studying alongside finishing my computing.
How long have you been involved in music, and where did your passion come from?
My passion for music stems from several things; my family, performing on stage and the way music resonates with me. I really relate to the sounds and vibrations of music. My parents have always been a huge musical inspiration, singing their hearts out to icons like Michael Jackson and James Morrison. They always ensured we flourished with our love for music. Whether it was singing, dancing or acting, my parents always encouraged me and my siblings to get involved in the performing arts from a young age, which I’ll forever cherish as it made me who I am today.
When I first performed on stage alone as part of Rubery’s Got Talent at around 9 years old, I knew it was what I was born to do. I also regularly took part in my school’s talent competitions, as well as the Musical Theatre Youth Company, Welsh National Opera and CBSO Children’s Choir. I was around 14 when I wrote my first proper song. From there I’ve written countless lyrics, like a never ending book. Writing, being on stage and singing to an audience makes me feel alive!
What inspires you most in songwriting, and what do you think makes a good performer?
My inspiration comes from real life experiences, not just my own. My music is about things I’ve watched others go through, staying positive, mental health, and love. Love, optimism and inspiration is the message I want to deliver through my music.
To me, being a good performer means having the passion to perform, not being scared of making mistakes and pushing through fear. You could be the best singer but the natural hiccups and mistakes are what can make you a great performer. You need to make mistakes to get better. Not being afraid to try different things, instead of staying in your comfort zone, will bring the best results. Putting your all into performing also goes a long way. Having a positive energy, moving around the stage, sending that energy across the room and making the people watching feel you really mean business, performing from the heart with dedication!
How did you find your time at ACC, and how has your time there benefited you in the present?
I honestly would not be where I am today without the time I spent at ACC and the support of the staff and students. I’ve had the advantage of professional experience performing on stage through ACC, and I wouldn’t have been able to start my postgraduate music course I’m currently on without that Level 2 study. I feel it is important to invest in your creative education as a musician, gaining as many skills as possible and reaching your full potential. I met so many lifelong friends at ACC, learned so much about music & it was where I had my first song produced! Being there enabled me to thrive, prosper and develop as a musician.
You’re currently competing in the Undiscovered Talent, and Soundwaves competitions. How have you found them so far?
I have found the competitions very fun. You have to remind yourself to enjoy the moment. They are competitions but having fun is the most important aspect to me. Every contestant would love to win, but taking part and getting this far means we have all achieved and we have to take pleasure in the process! It is also interesting to receive feedback from the judges and see where I can improve, as there’s always room for improvement. I am super excited for the next steps of both and can’t wait to further perform as part of the competitions.
What made you decide to enter, and what do you think it’s brought to your career?
I decided to apply for numerous music competitions after I reached the top 3 in the talent round of Miss England and became a finalist. As part of the beauty contest, I performed at Coventry Cultural MELA celebrating the first female Admiral in the Royal Navy, Sequin Walls HQ who make amazing backdrops for clients such as Adele and ITV, and the National Grand Final Charity Ball of Miss England. I was eager to take part in more contests, so I applied and was selected for the Undiscovered Talents online competition, as well as the live auditions of Soundwaves which comes with the opportunity to perform at Birmingham O2 Academy if I reach the next stage. Both competitions are huge opportunities to boost my musical career!
You’ve also made the finals of Miss England. Tell us about that!
Participating in Miss England felt so surreal, one of the best times of my life. I became the most petite finalist to make it to the Nationals finals of the Miss England contest in the 95 year history of the pageant. I’ve been featured in various newspapers and on GB News’ The Neil Oliver Show, talking about all things petite and music. The contest has various rounds, including the eco round where I made my own recycled outfit (see that on my Instagram!). I’ve also raised a total of £750 for three charities – Beauty with a Purpose, which promotes the health, education wellbeing of children around the world, Born Into Silence, a stillborn and infant loss support charity which is important to me after the loss of a sibling and PAPYRUS, a charity working for the prevention of young suicide.
I didn’t realise being 5ft made me stand out, until I saw how small I actually am compared to other girls in the contest. I really want to empower petite people across the world, be a voice and show them anything is possible no matter our height. It shouldn’t be a factor in defining our success!
How do you balance all these different areas of your career, and what have you learned from balancing so much?
A good career balance leads to harmony of different aspects in life, and using time wisely is essential to a good career balance. I’m determined to pursue both music and modelling as careers, but I only commit to things if I’m fully sure I can balance them. Organising my career has taught me that I can do anything I want to achieve if I put my mind to it. If I don’t do as well in one area, I have another to fall back on, and both areas support each other. As long as I manage my time, I know I’ll be on track to achieve my ambitions! It can be challenging, but I thrive off a challenge and I have the determination to succeed!
What have you got planned for the future?
I am planning to release my first EP and a few singles this year. I’ve put my heart and soul into these initial songs, some of which I wrote over 10 years ago, so it’s long overdue! I also can’t wait to share what I’ve been working on with Manchester based producer and independent label Dark Mic Group who is simply brilliant at what he does!
One of my singles is called ‘Run’ and I made the song during my time at ACC with music producer and broadcaster of Switch Radio’s Urban Switch Up channel, RaiRai, who also studied and taught at ACC Birmingham. It is being remixed and mastered, so it won’t be long before I can share this with fans!
I’ll also be flying out to Florida in July for Miss Universal Petite. I’m the first person from England to participate and I’m looking forward to representing my country, especially smaller people. Wish me luck!
You can find Emily online in the following places:
Instagram, Tiktok and Youtube: emilyharrison2023
Facebook: Emily Harrison