Roundup with Emma White, Part 2: On rejection and redefining success

When Rolling Stone calls you one of the “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know,” you’re definitively two things: a hard worker and (a hard worker) used to rejection, a natural component of the music industry. But never mind faking it ‘til you make it. Instead, independent country artist Emma White has faced it – and that’s why she’s made it.

White reports more than 3 million streams to date, and that’s as an independent artist. She’s been recognized by BuzzFeed and Apple Music, and recently opened for Keri Hilson and Carlene Carter.

In Part 2, White chatted with me about why she’s ditched picturing her end goals with tunnel vision, and how rejection is an integral component of her success – read on.

Q: When you face rejection in the music industry, how do you know when to adapt your goal, because there’s a realistic truth to it – or, realize that there’s no truth and work even harder?

I’m always picturing a larger vision – even when I first started in music, I was dreaming constantly of the perfect song and album. But then every meeting, every co-write had too much riding on it. Now, I just try to move in the direction of the big goal. I also work with a lot of different people who are more like mentors to me and help me decipher whether or not something is tangible.

It’s funny, because there is this magic about life where anything can happen – anything is possible. But you can’t plan on stars aligning. You can really only hope and take your best shots, so I try to focus on things I can tangibly accomplish. What is going to get me from point A to point B. 

When it comes to rejection, it has knocked me out sometimes, but only for a few hours or a day. Success doesn’t look one way is what I’ve realized. Sometimes rejection and criticism are helpful and, sometimes, it is baseless because people are looking at something from only one angle. If I can see a way around what someone is saying is a brick wall, then that’s a win to me – so in that case, I just work harder.

Q: I’ve recently come to learn that there’s a difference between stress-based energy and healthy energy, with the former contributing to burnout. When you’re traveling, what decompressing and mind-strengthening techniques do you use?

I pray a lot, and that kind of centers me and resets my brain. Also, a huge factor for my mental health is directly related to what I’m eating and whether or not I’m exercising. If I’m feeling super negative and stressed, I force myself to eat a salad, avoid alcohol, and go to bed. I could definitely use additional techniques in this area though!

Q: Finally, what song is the current soundtrack to your life right now?

“Cold War” by Cautious Clay.

Photo courtesy of Emma White
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- Lisa Cleary