Emily Maguire (singer)

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Emily Maguire
Emily Maguire, Live at The Brook in Southampton, June 2008.jpg
Emily Maguire performing at The Brook, Southampton, England in June 2008
Background information
Birth name Emily Lucy Maguire
Born (1975-03-08) 8 March 1975 (age 43)
Origin London, UK
Genres Alternative / acoustic / indie rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, acoustic guitar, cello, piano, recorder, flute
Years active 2003-present
Labels Shaktu Records (self released)
Website emilymaguire.com

Emily Lucy Maguire (born 8 March 1975) is an independent English singer songwriter. She has released five albums to date which are distributed through Universal by Active Media. All the songs apart from one cover version are written and composed by Maguire. She has also released two books, containing a mix of poetry, prose, song lyrics and diary entries. Maguire runs her own record label Shaktu Records with her husband Christian Dunham.


Maguire was born in South London, but most of her childhood was spent in Cambridge, England. She grew up without a TV at home and developed a passion for books and music, learning to play the cello, piano, flute and recorder from a very early age. Her father initially got her playing the piano which led to a love for classical music. She was raised with the music of Bach and Mozart. At age 12 Maguire looked destined to become a professional cellist. She played in competitions, attended courses on chamber music, and took a master class with world-famous cellist Paul Tortelier. [1]

Some years later she started to listen to other kinds of music and became obsessed with the songs of Bob Marley. When she was 17, she was involved in a car crash and a whiplash injury triggered fibromyalgia, a condition that affects the nervous system and results in chronic pain. The condition affected her mobility for several years and by the time she was 21 she had to give up her job and was on walking sticks, sometimes completely housebound.[2]

During this difficult period to pass the time and a distraction from the pain she taught herself to play Bob Marley songs on the guitar and started writing her own songs inspired by his music. With her passion for poetry, songwriting perfectly cemented her love of words and music. She wrote hundreds of songs in her bedroom and purchased a ProTools Studio to start recording them at home on a computer.[1] By her mid 20s, her health had improved and she moved back to London, and started working again doing office jobs. To begin with, Emily never saw herself as a performer, but then she got up the courage to start singing her songs in open-mic clubs.

In 2003 she received a phone call out of the blue which resulted in a trip to Australia for a four-week holiday to speed her recovery, with Maguire's illness being partly affected by the dull English weather. She went to stay with an old friend on his family's goat farm situated in the Obi Obi valley up in the hills behind the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. That friend was Christian Dunham who plays bass guitar and was a member of an Australian rock band.[3] He later became her husband and the farm her home. Together they produced her album in a recording studio he had built next to their house, called shack no.2 on the farm. The shack has no heating, just basic electricity, and was built from old bits of timber and metal with walls made from rendered potato sacks. The shack is a delicate ecosystem, with wildlife, including mice which live in Maguire's piano, and Huntsman spiders living in the bathroom. Maguire dealt with this by giving the creatures names. She overcame a snake phobia by calling a 7 ft python "Dudley" who moved into the shack from neighbouring farmland.[2]

Together with her Australian husband, producer and bass player, Maguire recorded her debut album, Stranger Place, over 14 days and nights in an old farmhouse in the middle of a forest in Queensland. They set up their own record label - Shaktu Records, named after Shack Number 2 at their home in Australia.[1] Maguire and her husband took over the family cheese-making business, in between running their record label in order to fund the album independently. Proceeds were raised by the manufacture and selling of goats cheese. Emily's husband encouraged and advised her to go out and play her songs live to promote the album.

In 2006, after completing another tour of the UK, Emily and Christian returned to Australia to record her second album, Keep Walking. In July 2007 they returned to the UK to play the Cambridge Folk Festival and embark on a three-month tour of pubs and clubs before heading back to life on the farm.

On 9 September 2007 she was featured as a Sunday Spotlight artist on Aled Jones' Good Morning Sunday show on BBC Radio 2, and her song "Back Home" was played from the album Keep Walking. The manager of The Waterboys happened to be listening, he contacted the programme and they passed on her contact details. A week before she was due to fly back to Australia, Maguire got a phone call from him asking if she would be prepared to cancel her ticket back and fly instead to Ireland to start a 16-date tour with American singer Don McLean.

From playing to 50 people in clubs she found herself performing to 2,000 people in concert halls around the UK, culminating in a show at the Royal Albert Hall to end the tour. This story led to several articles appearing in the press, including one in The Guardian on 21 November 2007, titled "My Wildlife", and one in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 2007, titled "Valley girl seduces London", as well as several live radio interviews on national radio in the UK.

On 16 October 2008 Maguire played her first major headline gig at The Bush Hall in London performing her songs with an all-girl string trio from The Royal Academy Of Music plus Damon Wilson, the drummer from The Waterboys. Her third album, Believer, was released in November 2009. Emily puts her classical training and cello-playing to use, writing and recording all the string arrangements for all her albums. On her MySpace page she cites Bach, Bob Marley and Buddha as her influences. A practising Buddhist for over 10 years, her albums are dedicated to her teacher Lama Jampa Thaye[4]

Maguire released her first book titled Start Over Again on 1 Oct 2010. She revealed the story behind her songs, her journeys into psychosis and depression, and the hope that emerges from the other side. It contains a brief autobiography and is based on the verses of her song "Start Over Again" (from her third album, Believer). It includes her poetry, prose, song lyrics and personal diary entries that offer an insight into the creativity of a manic depressive mind. Emily has endured a tough battle with chronic depression and bi-polar disorder throughout her life, and wrote openly in her book about the mental illness. [5]

On 15 July 2013 she released her fourth studio album, Bird Inside a Cage.

After a period of 18 months where she was unable to play her instruments due to chronic tendonitis, Emily started touring again in late 2016, and in February 2017 released her fifth studio album, A Bit of Blue'. This album was once again part-financed through a fan-funding campaign, and was launched at a special gig at St Pancras Old Church, London on 24 February 2017.

Musical career[edit]

Stranger Place[edit]

This is Maguire's self-produced acoustic folk-pop debut album. It contains 12 tracks, ten of which were recorded at Pix Records in Queensland and two at Goldcrest studios in London. It was released in 2004. An album made up of questioning lyrics and musical imagery, with dark tones on album opener "The Real World" to lighter shades on "Stranger Place". On "Falling On My Feet" she sings of devotion and on "I Turned On The News" about the slow decay of society. "The Real World" secured her an invitation to perform at the 2005 Singer-Songwriter Festival at The Borderline in London, where she opened for David Bowie's renowned bassist Gail Ann Dorsey.

Keep Walking[edit]

Released in 2007, Maguire's 12 track second album combines her love of classical music with a passion for beats, bass lines and acoustic guitar.[3] The title track was released as a single and gained a place on the BBC Radio 2 playlist[6] during May and June in 2008.


Maguire's third album was recorded at Kore Studios, Chiswick, London in January 2009 and released on 16 November 2009. This included two new singles "Lighthouse Man" and "I'd Rather Be". Both were playlisted on BBC Radio 2, the former appearing on the "C" list and the latter securing a "B" list placing for 5 weeks. The third single released was "Anything You Do".

Bird Inside a Cage[edit]

Maguire's fourth studio album was produced by Nigel Butler and released on Monday 15 July 2013. The album launch took place with a concert held at Hoxton Hall in London on Friday 12 July 2013. The fan funded 10 track project contains the first single "Beautiful". The title track "Bird Inside a Cage" was written about The Times magazine columnist Melanie Reid who broke her neck and back after falling from a horse in April 2010. Emily was inspired by an article Reid had written in 2011, on the first anniversary of her accident.

Emily was a studio guest and was interviewed by Clare Balding on BBC Radio 2's Good Morning Sunday show on 14 July 2013. The first single was played and she performed a live acoustic version of her love song "North and South".[7] [8][9]

A Bit of Blue[edit]

Maguire's fifth studio album was produced by Nigel Butler and released in February 2017. The album launch took place at a gig in St Pancras Old Church in London on Friday 24 February 2017. Maguire then embarked on a 12 date UK tour, with additional charity gigs and sessions in mental health hospitals.


Year Single Peak positions Album
Official UK Singles Chart
2008 "Keep Walking" "Keep Walking"
2009 "Lighthouse Man" "Believer"
2010 "I'd Rather Be"
2010 "Anything You Do"
2013 "Beautiful" "Bird Inside A Cage"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart



  • 4–26 October 2007: support act for American singer-songwriter Don Mclean
  • 27 May – 26 June 2008: support act for blues singer songwriter Eric Bibb
  • 9–15 July 2008: support act for adult alternative/pop band The Blue Nile
  • 12–29 October 2008: support act for musician and singer songwriter Glenn Tilbrook
  • 6–20 November 2008: support act for musician and singer songwriter Roddy Frame
  • 14 January – 25 February 2010: Maguire was Artist of the Month for the Caffe Nero chain and toured as a solo artist at their different establishments around the UK.

Live radio appearances[edit]

  • Aled Jones Good Morning Sunday, BBC Radio 2, 7 October 2007. Maguire joined the show live on the phone. She spoke about opening for Don Mclean on his UK tour and the forthcoming show at The Royal Albert Hall on 26 October.
  • Aled Jones Good Morning Sunday, BBC Radio 2, 28 October 2007. As a live studio guest Maguire spoke of the impact of her experience after finishing her UK tour with Don Mclean. She discussed her discovery and practice of the Buddhist faith which inspired her music. Her songs "Keep Walking" and "Falling On My Feet" and were played. The latter being the closest to her heart about hope and faith following heartbreak. The song became something of a premonition when a few weeks later she went to Australia for a holiday and it changed her life.[10]
  • Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2, 11 November 2007. Maguire along with bass player Christian Dunham performed 3 songs live: "Stranger Place", "Anything You Do" and "All That You Wanted". Presenter Gideon Coe standing in for Bob Harris ended the session by playing the title track from the album Keep Walking.
  • Woman's Hour, BBC Radio 4, 17 Dec 2007. Maguire discussed her life story to date (The goats cheese maker whose played the Albert Hall) with presenter Jane Garvey. Emily's song "All That You Wanted" was played and she performed "Falling On My Feet" live.[11]
  • Aled Jones Good Morning Sunday, BBC Radio 2, 20 January 2008. Maguire joined the programme as their Buddhist guest from the BBC radio studios in London. She spoke of the importance of her faith and how it was tested following a burglary shortly after Christmas. Emily's new single "All That You Wanted" was played followed by a discussion of the legacy of Martin Luther King which was marked on 21 January 2008. For the Moment Of Reflection feature Emily read from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley appropriate for Martin Luther King Day
  • Aled Jones Good Morning Sunday, BBC Radio 2, 25 May 2008. Maguire spoke about climate neutral living and how her song had been selected for World Environment Day. The Environment program for the United Nations is based in Kenya and a lady in the office Nairobi heard about her low-carbon lifestyle story living in a recycled shack in the Australian Bush. Emily's song "Somewhere in the Blue" was played, inspired by the book The Bridges of Madison County.She then spoke about meeting her Buddhist teacher Lama Jampa Thaye in London and going to see the Dalai Lama speak publicly a few days earlier at the Royal Albert Hall on 22 May 2008. Emily was about to embark on a UK tour with bluesman Eric Bibb and they met for the very first time, live on air in the studio. Maguire then read the Moment of Reflection drawing from words from her song "The Borderline" and her thoughts on what Buddhism has taught her and how people are interconnected.[12]
  • Loose Ends, BBC Radio 4, 6 July 2008. Maguire was a guest performing an acoustic version of "Keep Walking" live in the studio.[13]
  • Aled Jones Good Morning Sunday, BBC Radio 2, 31 January 2010. Maguire spoke about song writing and performed her song "Start Over Again" live from new album Believer accompanied by bassist and husband Christian Dunham. Maguire discussed her experiences of life in how she was drawn to Buddhism, her reliance for guidance from her teacher and how studying the faith had helped her to take control of stressful situations. She articulated in how music and her faith are intertwined. Her songs and lyrics are informed by her Buddhist philosophy view of the world, she writes after meditation. The title of the album Believer is her expression of the themes of love, passion and the power of faith she found.[14]
  • Clare Balding Good Morning Sunday, BBC Radio 2, 14 July 2013. As a live studio guest Emily performed an acoustic version of her song "North and South" and spoke about the reality of relationships and her experience of living in the Australian Bush for four years.[7]


  • "Astonishing voice, she took Cambridge Folk Festival by storm" – Mandy Morton BBC Radio Cambridgeshire 19 September 2007
  • "Just beautiful, That's Emily Maguire and Falling On My Feet" – Aled Jones BBC Radio 2, 23 September 2007
  • That's a good record it's Emily Maguire Keep Walking – Terry Wogan BBC Radio 2, Tuesday 3 June 2008
  • "Here's a cracking one here now from a lady called Emily Maguire and it's from her album Believer and its called Lighthouse Man" – Paul O'Grady BBC Radio 2, Sunday 1 November 2009
  • The excellent Emily Maguire and I'd Rather Be – Alex Lester BBC Radio 2, Monday 4 January 2010[15]
  • "Top Tune, brand new by Emily Maguire, I'd Rather Be" – Chris Evans BBC Radio 2, 12 January 2010.[16]
  • "Emily Maguire, I'd Rather Be that is, we like that Emily Maguire that's good" – Steve Wright BBC Radio 2, Tuesday 26 January 2010.[17]
  • "Emily Maguire and I'd Rather Be, that's lovely isn't it" – Sarah Kennedy BBC Radio 2, Friday 29 January 2010
  • " Wasn't Emily Maguire just fantastic" – Clare Balding BBC Radio 2, Sunday 14 July 2013[7]


  1. ^ a b c Emily Press Pack bio
  2. ^ a b The Guardian "My wildlife", interview with Emine Saner retrieved 30 July 2013, first published 21 Nov 2007
  3. ^ a b Maverick Magazine (Issue 60, July 2007; 3 page feature "Spider & Snakes Girl")
  4. ^ Lama Jampa Thaye webpage Archived 4 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Start Over Again Book and EPK Retrieved on 2013-07-30
  6. ^ BBC Radio 2 playlist
  7. ^ a b c Interview with Clare Balding BBC Radio 2, 14 July 2013 Retrieved on 2013-07-14
  8. ^ The Times Magazine Spinal Column article Retrieved on 2013-07-30, first published 13 July 2013
  9. ^ Emily Maguire Website: Melanie Reid Article Retrieved on 2013-07-30
  10. ^ Emily Maguire: Interview with Aled Jones Good Morning Sunday,BBC Radio 2: 28 October 2007: retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0084j7q on 8 September 2010
  11. ^ Interview with Jane Garvey BBC Radio 4, 17 December 2007: retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/02/2007_51_mon.shtml on 8 September 2010
  12. ^ Emily Maguire: Interview with Aled Jones Good Morning Sunday,BBC Radio 2: 25 May 2008: retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00bqdl0 on 8 September 2010
  13. ^ Emily Maguire interview on Loose Ends, BBC Radio 4, 6 July, retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00cd3gl on 8 September 2010
  14. ^ Emily Maguire: Interview with Aled Jones Good Morning Sunday,BBC Radio 2: 31 January 2010: retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qfy7r on 8 September 2010
  15. ^ Emily Maguire: BBC Radio 2 play on 4 January 2010: retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pk9yn on 8 September 2010
  16. ^ Emily Maguire: BBC Radio 2 play on 12 January 2010: retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pqg9m on 8 September 2010
  17. ^ Emily Maguire: BBC Radio 2 play on Tuesday 26 January 2010: retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00q95f2 on 8 September 2010

External links[edit]