Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading CBE is a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. She was born one day after myself (Robert Burns BHB) along with Sade Adu she ranks as one of Britains most iconic and successful internationally renowned singer-songwriters of all time. A three-time Grammy Award nominee, Armatrading has also been nominated twice for BRIT Awards as Best Female Artist.
‘I’m Not in Love’ by Joan Armatrading provided unofficially by Really Does Bite -with the words Released in 1976, it reached number 10 in the UK charts and has since been covered by Sheena Easton, Sly Stone and Martha Davis, Courtney Pine and Kele le Roc
From Joan Armatrading’s Official website
Sample of The Tempest Songs by Joan Armatrading
The Weakness in Me by Joan Armatrading
Messenger – tribute to Nelson Mandela unofficial by 06GeoBro and includes the words.
Her official website – Joan Armatrading – gives a great insight into this talented, complicated, socially conscience artist:
“I write,” says Joan Armatrading, “because I love it.”
Joan Armatrading is an artist who has always stayed true to herself and love, as another famous person once wrote, is not love if alters when it alteration finds.
Grounded in her music and confident in her abilities, Joan has never buckled to current trends and genres in over four decades of superlative music-making. ‘Influential’ and ‘pioneering’ are just two of the epithets that have been rightly attributed to her.
The very first British female singer/songwriter to gain international success, Joan has won accolade after accolade. Having been honoured by an MBE from the Queen in 2001, In 2020 Joan was awarded a CBE and she has even received the keys to Sydney along the way.
In 1973 she was named Outstanding New Artist in Music Week – and she’s never looked back.
With 21 superlative albums to her credit, the latest released world-wide on BMG in 2018, Joan’s subtle and sublime music has touched millions of people all over the world.
Three times Grammy nominated, two times Brit nominated, winner of a coveted Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection, and winner of the BASCA Gold Badge Award in 2012, it is a recognition that continues to this day. 2012 saw Joan receive the British Folk Festival Award, 2016 Radio 2’s Folk Award for Lifetime Achievement and, the same year, the MMF’s Artist’s Artist Award. The standout achievements are many.
The CD, ‘Into The Blues’, remained at No 1 for 12 consecutive weeks. Joan toured the world in support of it and also released a deluxe edition of CD with DVD which showed her at her very best, live, on stage, performing music from across her career.
In 2014/2015 Joan undertook her last massive world tour – it covered an incredible 235 dates with most selling out as soon as they went on sale. Joan made it clear, however, she was not leaving the road for good – “I’ll never retire” – just withdrawing from year long excursions.
In 2018 true to her word Joan undertook a scaled fown tour of America and the UK lasting only 3 months.
In 2016 she composed the music to the acclaimed Donmar Warehouse production of The Tempest which played both in London and New York.
And the e-book with the lyrics for The Tempest
Joan Armatrading has come a long way since her birth in the West Indies and her upbringing in Birmingham.
Born in St Kitts on December 9th 1950 and moving to England when she was seven, Joan 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 parents to buy it. Her mother bartered two old prams they no longer used in exchange. Joan soon taught herself to play and began writing her own songs at the age of 14.
Joan Armatrading’s debut album, ‘Whatever’s For Us’, released on Cube Records in 1972 and produced by the great Gus Dudgeon, was critically acclaimed and saw Joan voted as best newcomer. In 1974, she signed to A&M world-wide and a whole plethora of classic and memorable songs followed – “Love and Affection”, “Down To Zero”, “Drop the Pilot”, “Me Myself I” to name but a few.
Known as a true craftsman, Joan’s distinctive vocals and consummate musicianship – she has arranged as well as played nearly every instrument herself on the last five albums – have led to widespread and, perhaps most importantly, consistent critical acclaim. Effortlessly eclectic, her sound has ranged from jazz to soul to sophisticated pop, all driven by her passionate guitar. Indeed, she was the first non-jazz artist to play in London’s Ronnie Scott’s main room.
In 2003 Joan released a seminal album, “Lovers Speak”. All 14 tracks were self-penned as usual but, with the exception of drums and horns, on this album she played every instrument as well. The CD combined strong upbeat melodies, riffs that stuck in your head and passionate, soulful ballads. It was the result of a long-held desire to make a truly solo album.
In musical terms Joan Armatrading has achieved far more than most performers ever dream of. She has received countless gold, platinum and silver discs and she has figured large in VH1’s Top 100 voted poll ‘The Most Influential Woman In Rock’.
She has continued to do what is important to her….and that has included other pursuits.
After years of committed studying, Joan achieved a goal she had held since childhood, she gained her BA Honours after studying history from the Open University – a feat very few other working artists would attempt, let alone whilst on tour. (She took her final exam the day after the last gig of her 2000 dates).
Other educational laurels include an Honorary Fellowship of the John Moores University of Liverpool (2000) and an Honorary Fellowship of Northampton University (2003). She has also received a Doctorate in Music from the University of Birmingham (2002), an Honorary degree from Aston University (2006), an Honorary Degree from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (2008) and an Honorary Degree from the University of the West Indies (2013).
In 2008, one month from her 58th birthday, Joan ran her first marathon. She ran the New York marathon of 26.24 miles and helped to raise £76,000 for her chosen charity.
A long time Ambassador 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. For five years she was President of the charitable and prestigious Women Of The Year Lunch.
In 2012 she launched a ‘Local Talent’ initiative which saw her personally interview and choose 56 young artists for support slots on her nationwide dates. A double album of that talent was later released with several of the young musicians going on to achieve significant solo success.
One country that has always been close to Joan’s heart is South Africa. A big admirer of Nelson Mandela, she twice performed for him, first on his 70th birthday at Wembley and then again in 2001 when she was asked by the LSE to perform “The Messenger” reported by the BBC, the tribute song she had been commissioned to compose for him. Along with the crowd, Mr Mandela danced throughout the whole performance. Armatrading said of Mandela:
He has encouraged the world with his spirit of forgiveness
The range of Joan’s involvement with music has also extended to media. Not only has she presented several series’ for BBC Radio 2 and Radio 4 but in 2009 she decided to interview five other guitarists for the BBC, discussing their styles and influences. The musicians ranged from the distinctive rocker, Mark Knopfler, to classical John Williams, country artist Bonnie Raitt, veteran folk artist Bert Jansch and Bloc Party’s Russell Lissack.
In 2010 Joan released ‘This Charming Life’, another fine work which headed straight to number 1 in the Amazon overall download chart. A collection of 11 new compositions that saw Joan return to a more rock/pop format, it appealed to fans old and new. Never one to stand still however, two years later Joan released ‘Starlight’, a jazz flavoured album which highlighted her skill as an adept and talented guitarist in her own right.
In 2018 Joan Armatrading re-signed to BMG. Her first album for the label was the 10 track ‘Not Too Far Away’..
Joan writes, produces, arranges and, again, plays all the instruments. A deeply personal album that is both intense, poignant and, at times, positively jaunty, it gets straight to the heart of things. The songs are a catalogue of emotion that is as engaging, direct and relevant as it is individual. No prevarication on this album.
‘Not Too Far Away’ is a great testament to a woman who has gone where no British female artist has gone before and who is not afraid to tell it how she sees it.
It is a strong and telling statement from one of the best loved, most enduring and, unquestionably, accomplished artists working today.
Image at top is from Joan Amatrading’s official website joanarmatrading.com