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Louis Emory ’07                                                                                                        

Degree: Communications

Hometown/current residence: Troy, N.Y.

Occupation: singer-songwriter; founder, lead singer Louis Emory and The Reckless Few

Louis Emory’s ties to Italy stretch from his Troy neighborhood to the town outside Naples, where his great-grandparents came from. Emory grew up with that country’s food, language, and many stories about his immigrant roots.

So, when he finally visited Italy in 2017 with his now-wife, he fully expected to be moved. The experience, however, went well beyond his hopes:

“It was like my world had gone from black and white to color,” said Emory, 38, who was married there two years later. “I started a deep study on the Renaissance, the Medici, architecture, and the masters. I immersed myself.”

By then, Emory – who worked in marketing, real estate, and billboard design – had devoted himself to his first love; music. He launched Louis Emory and The Reckless Few and got busy writing and recording. Inspired by classic rock – including all-time favorites The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – Emory’s work is, naturally, colored by his love of Italy.

His first EP, Love Italy, is drawing strong reviews and inclusion in a New York Times playlist. Here, Emory discusses his journey and his Saint Rose education:

When and how has Italy made its way into your music?
“Love Italy” is inspired by our travels, the amazing people we’ve met, and figures in Italian history. I started writing the first song, “Firenze,” at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. I was inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts” and wanted to challenge myself to write a longer-form song.

I wanted to write songs that could, in a small way, uplift and send some love and light back to our friends living in lockdown; to let them know that others were thinking of them and sending prayers their way.

How did the Saint Rose communications program benefit you?
I focused on journalism. I’m a Sagittarius, so I’m curious about everything. Writing stories or interviewing people helped me connect with all different types of people and not be afraid to connect with strangers.

Those skills have been priceless in learning how to navigate the music industry and in my songwriting.

What about life outside the classroom?
I was lucky to help and play at Valentine’s Music Hall and Beer Joint, the best local venue to see live bands. Any night, you could hear all types of music – country, Americana, punk, metal, hardcore, & rock n’ roll… They made a wonderful, inclusive community. I still miss it!

I was also fortunate to make some of my closest friends at Saint Rose: Anthony Zanni (Best Man at our wedding!) Dan(o) Speorl, Danny Graff, Eliyahu Baruch, and Matt Reeves. Also, I have to give a shout-out and much love to HEOP for all their support and the opportunity to attend college.

How did real estate, restaurant, and billboard design jobs morph into your current career?
I’ve been writing songs and playing guitar since I was 14. At 16, I started recording my songs with Tim Lynch and Bob Boyer of The Recording Company. They’ve been so supportive, with their endless creativity, and as friends and bandmates. (They are on Love Italy).

Some of the other jobs were listening to people wanting me to settle for something that wasn’t my Dharma. Everyone has an opinion – but if you can get quiet, you’ll know intuitively which way to go.

Many of us followed this pre-ordained path: Graduate high school, graduate college, get a “real” job, then maybe settle down with your sweetheart. I got lost out on that trail for a while, and my path eventually led me to yoga, my songwriting, and Italy.

How did your track “Roma” make a New York Times playlist? How do you promote your work?
We were pleasantly surprised and extremely grateful by “Roma” being added to the New York Times’ The Morning’s springtime 2023 playlist. My wife saw that they were accepting songs and submitted it.

Before that, “Roma” was also chosen by former Rolling Stone magazine editor Ben Fong-Torres for his radio show out of San Francisco, Moonalice Radio. That was a huge honor, and we were buzzing for days – eternally grateful to him.

I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the amazing opportunity to work with one of the greatest engineers in rock n’ roll history: Shelly Yakus. I hired him in early 2021 for a consultation and kept in touch. His career is incredible; He’s worked with John Lennon, Tom Petty, The Band, Bob Seger, Van Morrison, U2, and countless others. He didn’t have to stay in touch, but he really liked my music and helped co-mix and co-produce Love Italy. 

We are working together on my next EP, which will be released later this year. It’s been an absolute pleasure, and I consider him a friend and mentor.

George Harrison has also profoundly impacted my life, and one of his philosophies that he picked up from the Bible is “Knock, and the door will be opened.” So circling back to his philosophy, I started reaching out to anyone I could about my music (including Shelly), and doors started opening. I feel like it’s the universe guiding me, or nothing would be happening. I’m trying to beautify the world and be a light.

Has the Times listing helped your career or sales of the EP?
Yes, we did see a noticeable bump in Spotify streams, which has been great. But the impact is an affirmation that I’m on my path and need to see it through. Part of the reason I was so drawn to Italy is because they revere their artists. Here – in the heart of capitalism – we are just “living in the material world” (George Harrison). We don’t financially support artists; Look at the current writers’ strike and the battle against AI! Want to know what happens when people are allowed to follow their Dharma in arts and are financially supported? Look to The Renaissance. The Medici were patrons to the masters: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Donatello, and Brunelleschi. Their investment planted the seeds for today’s tourism in Florence, Venice, and Rome.

What is your goal for your music?
Bob Dylan – who is also a big influence on my life – said, “The highest purpose of art is to inspire.” I hope my songs inspire people to travel, see the world, and be more empathetic. I also hope to bring awareness to climate change and its negative effects on rising sea levels. I love Venice, and it will be a tragedy if we lose it. Please visit and experience it while you can.

Final comment!
One of the regrets of my time at The College of Saint Rose is not taking advantage of the study abroad program. I can’t stress this enough – take advantage of it, pack your bags, and go on an adventure! There are so many wonderful people and amazing places to see. (Of course, I recommend Italy.)

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.