Emma Graves sits just outside the Cafe at Stone Mill and plays one of her songs ‘Oswego County’ for a short music video (see video below the story).
by Dave Warner
In Little Falls, everyone knows her as Marie Graves, or sometimes just Ree, as she was the second Marie in her family. “Most of the older generations just called me Ree so that nobody was confused,” said Graves.
When she left Little Falls for Manhatten and was working there, her boss said that her name was a ‘little bit too difficult to pronounce’ and that there were several other women with names close to hers, so she asked if there was another name she could use?
Graves said, “Well, I was the new person and she asked if they could call me something else and I told her my middle name was Emma, and she said that was a lovely name.” Back then, there weren’t that many people with the name Emma, so it stuck. “In my professional life, I’m now called Emma Graves.”
She graduated from Little Falls High School in 1997 and then went to Herkimer BOCES. However, she got a music scholarship to Purchase College in Westchester. “It was a great school and I did four years of studio composition. Writing songs. But, you know what four years of writing songs gets you when you get out of school…no job.”
Graves worked in the music industry for a while, but she really wasn’t a night person and didn’t want to sleep during the day. “I burned out quicker than most people. People want to be awake during the day and sleep at night,” she said.
So, she started working in the skincare industry, her first job coming with Origins, an Este Lauder Company, and eventually started her own skincare company. She said, “That’s what I do professionally.”
Graves has had her own skincare line for sixteen years called ‘Between You and the Moon’. “I love the name. Everyone told me when I came up with the name of the company that it was too long and nobody would remember it, but I liked it.”
However, when she got a business partner years later and opened up her shops called Brooklyn Herborium, it became even more complex as it now became known as Between You and the Moon by Brooklyn Herborium. “It works,” she said. “It’s not doing us any harm.”
Along the way, Graves has always continued to do music. “It’s funny because walking around Little Falls seeing people I used to know, the one question I get is ‘are you still doing music?’. And I say, yup, still doing music.”
Her real music project is called Folk Song Sing-Along where she writes her own songs and publishes CDs. “The main point of Folk Song Sing-Along is to just get people to sing together. We’re singing about the things people are doing these days. I still consider the Beatles to be folk songs,” she said.
Her whole goal is to get people making music together and to get them singing together.
“One of the things I always say is that I have to have two projects going together at once to bring me relief from the other. When I was making my first skincare company and formulating all the products, I put out an EP of six songs for Clear Water to clean up the Hudson River,” she said.
She needed a place to release all of her other creativity and music seems to perfectly balance with her line of skincare products.
“Now I’m busy writing a book on skincare and holistic lifestyle and taking care of yourself with food and using herbs and it’s a really really intense project, so of course, in the middle of that I decided I’m going to make another album because that’s what I need to take the pressure away from doing the book,” said Graves.
“I had a teacher in school who said ‘If you want to get something done you have to ask the busy people’ and it’s true,” she said.
Graves doesn’t visit Little Falls as often as she’d like, but she has a lot of family here. “I wanted to show my kids Canal Days and the Chicks (Along the Canal). The Chicks are so awesome. I also saw Susan Bladeck who was one of my teachers in high school who taught me how to play guitar.”
She went to all the places on Main Street, ate at every restaurant and did her best to experience and get up to speed on everything that has been happening in Little Falls.
“I’m so impressed with how everything is here now. All these people that I knew from when we were kids are making things happen and there’s so much happening…games, art. People that I sat next to in art class are now illustrators. It’s great and so awesome to see. It’s not just those of us who escaped,” Graves stated.
“A lot of people are now saying this is a really cool place – let’s come back and make things happen here. I love that,” she said.