Born in New York City, Magee studied music at Westminster Choir College, from which she graduated in 1987. She continued her studies at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University Bloomington, where her teachers included Margaret Harshaw.
In 1995, Magee made her operatic debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, singing the role of Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte. Her international debut came in 1996 at the Berlin State Opera, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim. Magee's selected recordings, on CD and DVD, include:
- Lohengrin (Elsa), with Peter Seiffert; conductor: Daniel Barenboim
- Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Eva); conductor: Daniel Barenboim
- Peter Grimes (Ellen Orford); conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
- Ariadne auf Naxos (Ariadne); Zurich Opera; conductor: Christoph von Dohnányi
- Rusalka; conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
- Tosca, with Jonas Kaufmann and Thomas Hampson; Zürich Opera
- Salome; Frankfurt Radio Symphony; conductor: Andrés Orozco-Estrada
Magee and her husband, who is also her agent, live in Boulder, Colorado, United States.
- Adam Grybowski (Spring 2014). "Emily Magee, Westminster Choir College '87". Rider Magazine. Retrieved March 11, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Mike Ashman (August 2008). "Strauss, R.: Ariadne auf Naxos". Gramophone. Retrieved March 11, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Clive Paget (January 4, 2018). "Strauss: Salome (Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Andrés Orozco-Estrada". Limelight. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
- Warwick Thompson (March 13, 2014). "Soprano Emily Magee: I faced great questions of mortality and motherhood for Die Frau ohne Schatten". Metro UK. Retrieved March 11, 2018.