Em Jordan: Building her house of cards

Em Jordan. (Photo by Kaila Urban)

Em Jordan. (Photo by Kaila Urban)

When ALTo chatted with singer-songwriter Em Jordan, she was anxiously awaiting the opportunity to live out her dream of performing at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn. The famed 90-seat establishment was featured in the Nashville series, which she would often watch while recovering from medical procedures.

The 13-year-old’s debut single, “House of Cards” highlights her journey and struggles of living with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spine has failed to develop properly. The song is about rising above situations you can’t control and becoming who it is you are meant to be.

“I called it ‘House of Cards’ because it’s like, you build everything up and something happens and it just falls back down,” Jordan says. “It’s kind of about my confidence.”

She’s fueled words of vulnerability into an anthem of perseverance and persistence — it makes her wise beyond her years and sets a tone for young musicians in the industry who have important stories to tell.

The gossip used to hurt me until I found someone who showed me that I could be more.
— Em Jordan, 'House of Cards'

The country-pop single was penned by Jordan with the help of her manager and mentor, musician Danny Lamb. Lamb himself has spina bifida occulta and hydrocephalus. In 2013, he founded A Song, A City — an initiative which uses music to raise awareness for spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

“Everybody has a story and there are a lot of people that live with a disability that is very much invisible,” Lamb says. The initiative, and Jordan’s song itself, has opened a platform to “amplify the voices” of those who live with it.

In the days following the song’s May 4 release, Jordan received messages from those living with spina bifida from all over the world, thanking her for representing their feelings through song.

“It makes me happy to know that I’m not the only one that feels things like this,” Jordan says.

Music has always been a part of her life

It was her mother, Charlene Giugovaz, who encouraged her to write the song. She says that from a young age, and even in her early days in the hospital, music is what has always inspired her daughter (she started singing Celine Dion songs from the age of six). Now, Jordan has the platform to inspire others.

“I saw the talent in her from a young age and I really wanted her to pursue that,” Giugovaz says. “It gives her strength and encouragement and positivity to make music.”

Jordan has no plans to stop with her music. She recently took part in Youth Jam 2018 – a platform for youth in the music industry to network and showcase their talents. She and Lamb have written more songs together and there is even a music video for her first release in the works.

What she wants everyone to know?

She’s not a disability and it is not a barrier to what she is capable of doing. Jordan wants to encourage people, especially parents and children, to never give up no matter what struggle they are facing. “You’re braver and stronger than you think,” she says.

“I'm learning just how powerful music can be in connecting complete strangers through a simple story or song, and how much of a positive and lasting impact that can have in somebody’s life.”

Jordan is building her own house of cards. And it’ll only get stronger as the young artist continues to navigate the music industry – one song at a time.

Want to know what Em is up to next? Visit her Instagram @emjordanmusic and @asongacity for more on the initiative.