JOAN ARMATRADING has come a long way since her
birth in the West Indies and her upbringing in
Birmingham. With 17 stunning albums to her credit
and a new CD inr March 2003 on Telstar Records,
Joan’s subtle and sublime music has touched millions
of people all over the world.
Known as a true craftsman, her distinctive vocals
and consummate musicianship – she has arranged
as well as played nearly every instrument on her
forthcoming album – have led to unanimous, widespread
and, perhaps most importantly, consistent critical
acclaim. Effortlessly eclectic, her sound has
ranged from true soul to sophisticated pop driven
by her passionate guitar.
In musical terms Joan Armatrading has achieved
far more than most performers even dream of -
she has played, and still does, with some of the
finest musicians around, she has received countless
gold, platinum and silver discs, she has been
nominated for both Brit and Grammy Awards, she
has been the recipient of a highly coveted Ivov
Novello Award, she figured large in VH1’s Top
100 voted poll The Most Influential Woman In Rock…..
But more than that. Joan has been honoured by
the Queen and is one of the few female artists
ever to receive an MBE. She has played for Nelson
Mandela, been given the key to Sydney, is Patron
of various charities and been awarded several
Born in St Kitts in the West Indies on December
9th 1950 and moving to England when she was seven,
she took her first musical steps on her mother’s
piano. Although her father had a guitar it was
strictly out of bounds so when Joan saw one for
£3 in a pawn shop window she pestered her mother
to barter two old prams they no longer used. She
taught herself to play and began writing songs
at the age of 14. Leaving school when she was
16 she undertook various jobs, all the while writing
songs, until signing to Cube Records in 1971.
Her debut album, “Whatever’s For Us”, produced
by the late great Gus Dudgeon and written with
her friend Pam Nestor, was released the following
year on Cube in the UK and A&M in the States.
In 1975 she signed to A&M world-wide and the career
that has followed has witnessed a plethora of
classic and memorable songs – “Love and Affection”,
“Down To Zero”, “Drop the Pilot”, “Me Myself I”…..
Joan has worked with members of Little Feat, Fairport
Convention, XTC, the Police and Bruce Springsteen’s
E Street Band. Musicians such as Darryl Jones
(Rolling Stones), Mark Brzezicki (Big Country)
Tony Levin (King Crimson), Manu Katche (Sting),
Benmont Tench (Tom Petty), Mark Knopfler and stalwart
Greg Phillingames have all joined her in the studio
while her list of producers is impressive – Glyn
Johns, Gus Dudgeon, Steve Lillywhite, David Tickle
to name but a few. The first non-jazz artist to
play at London’s Ronnie Scott’s in the main room,
Joan has many distinctions to her credit. A long
time supporter and performer for the Prince’s
Trust, she lends her support to various charities
across the world. In December 1998 she released
a CD, “Lullabies With A Difference” in aid of
PACES, a charity for children with Cerebral Palsy.
She is a Patron of the Peace University in Vienna
and recently she became a Patron of Ukuza which
helps raise the cultural profile of South Africa.
South Africa has always been close to Joan’s heart.
A huge admirer of Nelson Mandela, not only has
she performed live for him at his 70th birthday
at Wembley Stadium but, in 1999, she was invited
to write a special tribute song. Titled “The Messenger”,
Joan performed it to the former President of South
Africa when he made a private visit to the UK
in 2000….he smiled and danced throughout.
In 1996 Joan was awarded an Ivor Novello Award
for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection while
her most recent platinum CD was received for her
part in the BBC’s “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed.
March 2003 saw the first release for Joan Armatrading
on the Telstar label. The “Lovers Speak” album
features 14 tracks in all arranged and produced
by Joan. In addition, with the exception of drums
and horns, she plays every instrument herself.
An exceptional CD that combines strong upbeat
melodies, riffs that stick in your head and passionate,
stirring soulful ballads, it is the result of
a long-held desire to make a truly solo album.
But this is no hotch-potch of styles, rather a
cohesive testament to the ability of one of Britain’s
greatest female artists. The feel is truly Joan,
the thread that runs through all the diverse elements
and meshes them together is the touch the artist
herself brings. As Joan explains “I’ve wanted
to make an album that reflected me for a while
now and I think this does”.