Emily Milius is an Assistant Professor in Music Theory at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. In her research, she examines intersections of voice and mental health, mainly through timbral analysis. Physiologically, the voice is intimately connected to the psyche and can powerfully convey our emotional states. The act of singing has been proven to help stabilize the nervous system, helping with emotional regulation and healing. In her work, Milius analyzes popular music and shows how singers use vocal timbre to portray intense emotions, especially those connected to trauma.

Upcoming, Milius’s article “Voice as Trauma Recovery: Vocal Timbre in Kesha’s ‘Praying’” will be published in Indiana Theory Review. In the article, she shows that Kesha’s use of various vocal registers, laryngeal positions, timbres, and textures convey her personal journey through trauma and recovery. Through her own embodied analysis as a singer and trauma survivor, Milius examines timbre and text to analyze both Kesha’s singing and lyrical voices. She has also presented her research at various national, regional, and topical conferences, such as the Society for Music Theory, the American Musicological Society, the Feminist & Music Theory Conference, the Trauma and Music Conference, and more.

Milius has also previously worked as a Crisis and Support Advocate at a domestic violence agency. During her time there, she learned so much about trauma-informed care and integrates these practices into her classroom. In doing so, she works to make her classroom a place that all students have an equitable chance at success. She continues to do research in trauma-informed pedagogy to make her classes accessible to all of her students.

Milius will finish her PhD in Music Theory (with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies), from the University of Oregon, in June 2024. She also holds a Master of Music in Music Theory (2016) and Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance (2014) from Stephen F. Austin State University. In her dissertation, entitled “Vocal Timbre and Sexual Trauma in Women’s Popular Song,” she examines the ways that singers can portray symptoms of trauma through their vocal timbre. More specifically, she demonstrates the ways that women express their experiences of sexual violence—in the music industry and writ large—with their voices.

In addition to her PhD in Music Theory from the University of Oregon (2024), Milius also has two degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University: an MM in Music Theory (2016) and a BM in Vocal Performance (2014). She is originally from Libertyville, IL, a suburb north of Chicago.