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Soul searching, focus follow accident

Chris Emmerson's first album will be released tomorrow. photo by Ann L. Fouty.
April 24, 2014
A 2006 car accident was the stimulus for a life change for Chris Emmerson of Grosse Pointe Park.

He said he had been content with a simple life of working construction and performing music before the car in which he was a passenger rolled over three times and he was seriously injured.

"My senior year I did the vocational thing. I built a house," he said. "After high school, I did remodeling. I did that for a couple years and had an accident. I broke my back and sternum. It changed my life."

When physical therapy wasn't enough to manage the physical and mental pain, his wife, Sarah, suggested yoga.

"I found yoga after a car accident. It was most helpful. I did a lot of soul searching," he said.

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Yoga worked so well in the healing process, he became a yoga certified instructor and strums his guitar, performing original music, during yoga sessions.

Writing and performing music consumes another part of his life, so much so that his first album, "It's so Easy From Far Away," is to be released April 25. It's an album, he said, that is guitar driven. Recorded in a room off his dining room, Emmerson plays guitar, bass, keys and percussion.

Attending Detroit Waldorf School through eighth grade, Emmerson started his first band in fourth grade.

He was just following in his father's footsteps — a musician who appeared in the film documentary "Searching for Sugar Man" and had musicians over to practice for upcoming performances.

"I looked up to him. I was born into music. There have always been instruments around (the house)," he said.

During his years at Waldorf, Emmerson played the recorder, violin, percussion instruments and guitar. He grew up on classic rock, a fan of Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and grunge, but enjoys jazz and symphonic music, as well.

"I have been singing the whole time," he added. "It was a natural thing."

While at Grosse Pointe North High School, Emmerson was playing in jazz ensembles under Jim Cadotte and David Cleveland, and was in "a couple bands.

"My voice is pretty mellow but I can belt it out," he said. "Alone, I'm pretty mellow."

Emmerson first composes the music and the lyrics follow "to get the feel of the song" that is "in the moment.

"I started writing my first song at 10. I had a little band in grade school. We were pretty horrible. I've written a lot — nearly 100 songs."

In addition to writing songs for his band, Emmerson has been invited to collaborate with Hogan Says!, a band, he said, known throughout Detroit, as well as band director and vocal instructor Tony Nouhand, another Detroiter.

Mentioning these Detroit-based names, Emmerson said living in the metro area is a definite plus.

"It's incredible. You an go downtown and for $5 see the best musicianship, the Brothers Groove. You can see them sometimes for free. Sometimes we take it for granted (the availability of local music and musicians). It's a big influence. To live up to their standards is hard," Emmerson said.

Detroit has become known as a music melting pot, embracing a variety of musical genres, including the oldies generated by Motown, he describes as "feel good music. Motown never gets old."

At 30 years old, Emmerson will be part of the Detroit music scene with the release of his album and plans to keep his music going with his band performing at churches, parties and local clubs.

And maybe he will be writing lullabies for the child, he and his wife, Sarah, are expecting in May.

"To be the best dad is my No. 1 goal," he said. "With my schedule, I'll be teaching (yoga) in the morning and there is a block of time to hang out with the baby. It will be cool and challenging."

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