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Fans fund singer's new album
Singer-songwriter Emily Maguire has her fans to thank for her latest album. Bird Inside A Cage, released on July 15, was funded entirely by those who responded to a video appeal by Emily for financial backing. The 38-year-old was overwhelmed by the response, which included a donation of £1,000 by a complete stranger.
"Bird Inside A Cage wouldn't have seen the light of day without my fans' generosity,'' Emily says. ''Everything we've achieved over the past ten years has been made possible by the involvement of people who love my songs and believe in me."
The new album's title track was inspired by Melanie Reid, a Times journalist who was paralysed in a horse-riding accident in 2010 and who writes the paper's regular Spinal Column. On reading Melanie's article describing her first year in a wheelchair, Emily was moved to write Bird Inside A Cage for her.
Listing influences from Bob Marley to Bach, London-born Emily was classically trained as a child on cello, piano and flute. Her song-writing was born from adversity. In her 20s she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Pain Syndrome, an illness which attacks the nervous system and which kept her hospitalised and housebound for years.
"It wasn't all negative,'' she claims. ''It gave me the time and space to discover song-writing and learn guitar from Bob Marley songbooks!"
A few years later, back on her feet, she decided to leave her London flat for a shack in the Australian bush. There she set up her own record label, Shaktu Records, with partner Christian Dunham. For the next four years she lived an eco-friendly, self sufficient lifestyle, financing her music and tours by making and selling goats cheese in Queensland. Her first two albums, Stranger Place and Keep Walking, were produced in her recording studio.
Emily's breakthrough came in 2007. After completing a three month UK tour of pubs and clubs she was about to step on a plane back to Australia when she was offered a support slot on Don 'American Pie' McLean's British tour which concluded with a date at the Royal Albert Hall.
Remaining in the UK, Emily went on to play at some of the most prestigious venues in the country with the likes of Eric Bibb, Paul Brady, Glenn Tillbrook and Roddy Frame. Her third album, Believer, was recorded in London and won rave reviews.
In 2010, in her book, Start Over Again, she revealed her experience of living with bipolar disorder and performed a series of gigs in psychiatric hospitals for patients, staff and carers who were inspired by her songs about surviving mental illness and her belief that it can be a positive thing for creativity. Her composition, Keep Walking, was chosen as the anthem of the Defeat Depression campaign.
The following year Emily toured the UK for seven months with Dennis Locorriere, the former lead singer of Dr Hook, which took in almost every key theatre in the country.
Emily's solo autumn tour begins on September 7 at The Junction, Cambridge. Other dates are September 12 at Gala Theatre, Durham; September 13 at The Cluny, Newcastle; September 14 at Fruit, Hull; September 22 at Wellington Arts Centre and September 28 at Artrix Arts Centre, Bromsgrove.