Emily Tepe - aka IVA, is SACC-Georgia's Lucia 2016! This will be her third year in a row to take on the stage as our Lucia Performer at our traditional Lucia Gala. Read more about her here or have a look at her website.
In 2015, she was appointed Swedish-American of the Year by the Vasa Order of America, more details around this honorary nomination can be found in the clip above, where we get to follow her through her cultural journey from the U.S. to Sweden, where she actually ended up living for 6 years. During that period of time, she experienced a "very deep feeling of peace and calm", while enjoying exploring her roots and heritage, both on a personal and professional level.
She candidly shares her wonderful and enriching experience of living in Sweden, and emphasize the value of knowing and celebrating your origin - something that many of our Swedish-American members surely can relate to.
We are very pleased, proud and excited to have her performing at our 31st Annual Lucia Gala - get your tickets now!
[caption id="attachment_6418" align="alignright" width="200"] Emily performing last year at SACC-Georgia's 30th Annual Lucia Gala.[/caption]
Who is Emily Tepe?
She is a singer, artist, and mentor who cares for the world around her and the world within her.
What inspires you musically?
For as long as I can remember I have felt compelled to make music, and it is a constant presence in my life. I have always loved to sing and write songs, and have had many journeys around the world, including my years in Sweden, that have inspired my music. The experiences I have had in my relationships, both good and bad, inform the music that I write. I suppose it’s a way to deal with my emotions. Recently I went through a particularly difficult time in my love life, and that led to some beautiful songs that I now am proud to sing, despite all the pain that brought the songs to me.
Tell us about your Swedish heritage!
My ancestors Per Larsson Cock and Margaret Lom came over on the third voyage of the Kalmar Nyckel in 1643. They settled in the colony of New Sweden and my family still lives in the Wilmington/Philadelphia area where they were. As a child I sang every year at the Lucia festival at Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, Delaware and participated in Swedish cultural events, which made me more interested in my Swedish heritage. When I was in graduate school at Manhattan School of Music I decided to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to Stockholm, where I wound up living for six gloriously cold and dark years.
How was living in Sweden?
The Swedes are a caring, progressive people who value serving society as a whole instead of worshipping yourself, the individual. I learned to be more mindful and less ego-driven, and to listen carefully. I also felt a great sense of peace in Sweden, which I did not feel while living in New York the years before, despite a daily yoga and meditation practice. Sweden took me on a deep journey into myself and I learned to hear the true voice within me, not a voice shaped by the priorities of others close to me, or catering to popularity. Sweden helped me find the channel to the music living within me.
What is your impression of Atlanta and Georgia?
I was struck by the friendly people in Atlanta, the delicious restaurants, and how much fun you all had at the Lucia Gala. You are a great group of Swedes and Swede-o-philes and it’s always a pleasure to sing for you.
When did you first come in contact with the Lucia tradition?
At Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and later I had the chance to lead Lucia celebrations in Stockholm, which was a treat since I knew the songs and traditions from childhood.
What does Lucia mean to you?
For me Lucia represents the Swedes' love of singing. It brings warmth and love to a cold environment. When I lived in Stockholm I was struck by how much everyone loved to sing at parties and for friends, and saw beautiful choir singing in the Old City on Lucia day. The lights and the music bring comfort and love to Sweden during a very dark time of the year. I love to light a candle at home during the cold and dark days and play my Lucia music from Adolf Fredriks choir in Stockholm. It brings back so many special memories.
What can our guests expect from your performance at SACC-Georgia's 31st Annual Lucia Gala?
I’ve been practicing my fire-swallowing act for some extra flair this year! No, I am kidding, but you will hear some beloved Swedish Lucia songs as well as American classics, and even a song or two of my own.
As this will be your third year in a row as SACC-GA's Lucia Performer - what do you like most about our Lucia Gala?
I love that you include the drinking songs in the party. It’s a great way for everyone to get to know each other and builds real camaraderie.
We thank Emily for her time and look forward to see her performing live at one of the biggest Swedish-American celebrations of the Southeast - SACC-Georgia's 31st Annual Lucia Gala! Don't miss it out on this spectacular event - secure your seat and table at the party on December 17th now!
Text: Sabina Woldai
Photo credits: David Norbut