Caroline Esmeralda Van Der Leeuw, once a music teacher, never thought she would ever be dubbed the Dutch Adele … let alone shatter sales records in Amsterdam previously held by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. That’s right – the King of Pop himself. The jazz pop singer admits that when she enrolled at The Conservatory of Amsterdam and decided to study music, neither she nor her dad believed she would make a proper living out of it. Needless to say, they were both proven wrong.
Although she graduated with a degree in Jazz, Emerald always envisioned a modest life for herself; she would teach and perform here and there when she could. She would lead a very reasonable and realistic life. When looking back, Emerald has said according to MTVIggy, that thinking this way almost derailed her career, before it even had the chance to spark. Pressured by those around her, she kept getting questioned about her career choice. What was she going to do with her life? Was she ever going to do something? What does she want? She also kept asking herself those same questions and then it hit her. If she doesn’t try … how would she know it would even be possible?
When producer Jan van Wieringen booked her as a demo singer for a track he was working on called “Back it Up”, Emerald immediately thought, “I’m the demo singer of a huge hit!” Shortly after the session, Emerald mustered up the courage to ask van Wiergingen if the single could be released under her name. To her surprise, the song was given to her. Emerald knew that this was exactly the kind of music she wanted to make, but didn’t feel that she was good enough for it. She didn’t see herself as an entertainer; Emerald saw herself as a singer and wanted others to perceive her as one.
Eventually, the track found a spot on Emerald’s 2010 debut album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor. With producers van Wieringen and David Schreurs by her side, Emerald oozed a style infused with both trip-hop boldness and jazz swagger. On Emerald’s sophomore album, The Shocking Miss Emerald the atmosphere teased out even further. Against scratched records, the occasional string section and a slinky beat, Emerald sings about love in flavors – sounding like the kind of diva capable of breaking some hearts.
When performing or recording her music, Emerald says her big character is not much of a stretch. Glamour to the singer is a way of stepping out of daily life. For her, this means dressing up and being the best version of oneself possible.
In an interview with MTVIggy Emerald said, “You’ve got to be bigger because you’re in front of people. It gives you permission to be bigger. The bigger the audience, the bigger you’ve got to be. That’s how I feel onstage. I’m bigger, but I still feel like me. It’s not a role; I don’t feel like I’m playing a game or something. It is a particular part of me.”
In her early years, Emerald spent her time emulating idols like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, catching her teacher’s attention. Since then, the teacher convinced both Emerald and her parents that she should pursue Jazz – the rest was history. The 32 year old still cannot believe how far she has come, saying no one could ever dream making it that big.
Montclair State | New Jersey