Sunshine Coast Singer-Songwriter Emma Bridget Tomlinson Moulds Her Own Brand Of Opera Funk

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  • Wednesday, 11 December 2019 12:22
Emma Bridget Tomlinson is a Sunshine Coast pop, classical singer-songwriter. Emma Bridget Tomlinson is a Sunshine Coast pop, classical singer-songwriter.

At just 19, Sunshine Coast singer-songwriter Emma Bridget Tomlinson already has her sights set on musical greatness.


Seeing herself as a female Freddie Mercury, Emma is dedicated to making a mark with her own brand of music called 'opera funk', which fuses her classical training with a shiny pop sensibility.

Emma has been mentored by Peter Koppes of The Church and is part of the Festival Of Small Hall series as support for Hat Fitz & Cara at Cooroy Hall. We take take some time with Emma to find out all about the music she makes, what it's like working with an Aussie rock legend and her plans for the future.

Tell us about who you are as an artist and the music you make?
I am an Australian singer-songwriter who plays strictly piano, focusing in the genre of pop and pop-classical crossover such as opera and musical theatre. The music I make focuses around the cultural perspective I have been influenced with and also trained in. Therefore I am able to infuse a variety of genres together in my compositions. I see myself as the female Freddy Mercury. I am also an actor, dancer and model ambassador for Autism Queensland and Secrets Shhh.


Some personal highlights of your career so far?
When I was 14, I was selected to fly to Sydney and be a contestant auditioning for X Factor 2014, which was a huge commitment as I was in grade 9 at the time. The judges were Natalie Bassingwaithe, who said yes, Ronan who said no, LMFAO RedFoo who jumped off his chair on the desk with a big yes, and Danni Minogue who said no.

I produced and directed with my mother-manager Danielle Tomlinson my own show called 'Opera Funk'; I had Sean Peter Ross accompany me on piano as it was a fusion of opera, musical theatre, jazz, contemporary works and my own works. I was part of Noosa Alive Festival in 2018, and this year I was invited to headline Noosa Alive with my show 'Opera Funk' with Peter Koppes as a guest performer. I entered the national competition Take The Mic, hosted by JMC Academy, winning the open division for Brisbane.

I also recently auditioned for The Voice 2020 and made it to the stage before the blind auditions, but as much as they were impressed with my voice they felt I was not ready for The Voice stage. This experience has only made me hungrier for what I want and how much harder I need to work as an artist who wants to show people that my voice is my strength, but so is the power behind it physically and mentally.

To have had so many no’s throughout my career has been a way of making me better than the person I was yesterday. To have had such highlights and the opportunities that I have been given is completely mind-blowing.

How did you enjoy the recent Turn Up music conference on the Sunshine Coast?
Turn Up was something that I have never experienced and was so insightful and an intellectual experience, as I learnt so much and made massive connections that I would not have thought to make. It encouraged and reinforced insight into what it takes and the step-by-step goals and decisions I need to make it.

What has it been like having Peter Koppes (The Church) as a mentor?
Having met Peter in grade 12 at Noosa District State High School was the best thing that ever happened since moving to the Sunshine Coast. He has taught me how to understand and use chords better. Even with piano, he taught me a lot about how chords work and intertwine.

I remember one day Pete and I were in a lesson, and the night before I had written a draft of an original called ‘Silver Lightning’. I remember showing the chord structure to Pete and the lyrics and how intrigued and amazed he was, as he said he hadn’t heard song writing like mine and how much of a riddle it was with the words and the notes.

He helped me structure the lyrics as well as add and write some chords; he and I have now played that composition together two times on stage. I have had the honour to sing his songs, 'Under The Milky Way and 'The Unguarded Moment' while he played piano and harmonica, which is something so surreal to say I have done. Having Pete as a mentor as well as very good friend is something very powerful.



You'll be on the Festival Of Small Halls tour this December – what are you looking forward to most about the shows?
To be asked to support Hat Fitz & Cara at the Cooroy Hall for Festival of Small Halls tour this December is something I am so excited about, especially as this is another big step to gain more experience, but also the opportunity to perform and be represented as one of the contemporary artists supporting one of the best duos to perform at Woodford Folk Festival is incredible. I would call this an opportunity of a lifetime to experience and share who I am as an artist and my music and my meaning.

What can audiences expect from your performances?
I am a one-woman band as I usually play piano live with my vocals, but I am practising to perform with my originals as well as backing tracks to enhance the quality of my performance and add a beat to it. They can expect diversity in my music through mixing genres through my repertoire while also incorporating my originals.

What do you strive to get out of the live experience for yourself?
To connect with people, to inspire people, to reinforce meaning through my music and that my voice improves day by day through every song.

Some career goals you have set for yourself?
Having studied a music major industry project course at university, I have deepened my understanding for what I need to achieve as an artist. My first career goal would be to have my EP produced and have digital aggregators to platform my material through digital distribution including triple j Unearthed.

My next career goal would be to continue with gigs and opportunities that arise. I will also be looking at work with possible musical theatre opportunities. I would like to be able to connect with an A&R or manager from a record label.

Is there a message in your music you want people to understand?
Music has been my salvation since being diagnosed with autism at four years old, allowing me to express emotion and act as a sanctuary from extreme bullying. I see myself as a young advocate for females with ASD, disabilities, and permanent injuries or non-permanent showing them with determination and love you can achieve your dreams and ambitions. That being different makes a difference.

Emma Bridget Tomlinson plays Woodford’s Festival Of Small Halls at Cooroy Hall (Sunshine Coast) supporting Hat Fitz & Cara and Blair Dunlop 11 December. Emma also plays Sofitel Riviera Noosa (Sunshine Coast) 15, 22, 26, 29 December.

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