|Birth name||Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading|
|Born||9 December 1950
Basseterre, Saint Kitts
|Genres||Rock, Pop, Folk, Blues|
|Labels||Cube Records, A&M, Universal, EMI, Savoy Jazz|
Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading, MBE (born 9 December 1950) is a British singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Armatrading is a three-time Grammy Award-nominee . Additional achievements include a BA (Hons) degree in History from the Open University, of which she is a trustee.
Joan Armatrading was born in Basseterre, Saint Kitts in the West Indies and moved with her family to Birmingham, England, United Kingdom, in 1957. She began writing lyrics and music at the age of 14. Her first job was working at Rabone Chesterman (makers of fine engineering tools), in Hockley, Birmingham. She was sacked from this job because she insisted on bringing her guitar to work and playing during tea breaks.
In the early 1970s, Armatrading moved to London to perform in a repertory production of Hair. There she met the lyricist Pam Nestor, and they worked together on the album "Whatever's for Us", released on the Cube label in 1972. As well as writing lyrics this debut LP saw Armatrading perform all of the vocals, write all of the music and play an array of instruments. Nestor was credited as co-lyricist; however Cube considered Armatrading to be the more likely star material. These events produced a tension which broke up the partnership. A period of inactivity for Armatrading followed, while she extricated herself from her contract with Cube Records.
It was only in 1975 that she was free to sign with A&M Records, and issued the album Back to the Night which was promoted on tour with a six-piece jazz-pop group called The Movies. Armatrading credited up-and-coming UK singer Elkie Brooks on the sleeve notes as she had cooked for Armatrading and the band in the studio while making the album, which was produced by Brooks' then-husband Pete Gage. A major publicity relaunch in 1976 and the involvement of producer Glyn Johns propelled her next album, Joan Armatrading, into the top 20 and spawned the top 10 hit single "Love and Affection". The album mixed acoustic work with jazz-influenced material, and this style was retained for the 1977 follow-up Show Some Emotion. This album was also produced by Glyn Johns, as was 1978's To the Limit. These albums included songs which continue to be staples of Armatrading's live shows, including "Willow", Down To Zero, "Tall in the Saddle", and "Kissin' and a Huggin". Also at this time, Armatrading wrote and performed "The Flight of the Wild Geese", which was used during the opening and end titles for the 1978 war film The Wild Geese. A live album entitled, Steppin' Out, was released in 1979.
In 1980, Armatrading radically revised her playing style and released Me Myself I, a harder pop-oriented album produced by Richard Gottehrer, who had previously produced albums by Blondie. The album became Armatrading's highest ever charting album both in the UK and the US, while the title track became her second UK top 40 hit single. The same pop style was also evident on the 1981 album Walk Under Ladders and 1983's The Key. Both of these albums were also top 10 successes in the UK, with The Key also producing the hit single "Drop the Pilot", Armatrading's third UK top 40 hit single. To capitalise on her success, A&M released the best of compilation album, Track Record in 1983.
Armatrading's next studio album was 1985's Secret Secrets. The album was a top 20 hit but failed to yield any hit singles, cementing Armatrading's status as an "album artist". Taking over production responsibilities herself, she continued to record the albums Sleight of Hand (1986), The Shouting Stage (1988) and Hearts and Flowers (1990) for A&M Records, which all made the UK top 40 but failed to achieve the level of success of her earlier works despite successful national tours (a show from her 1988 "Shouting Stage" tour was also filmed for television).
In 1991, A&M released the compilation The Very Best of Joan Armatrading which returned her to the top 10. However, her following studio album for A&M, 1992's Square The Circle did not replicate this success and would be her final recording for the label. Following her departure from A&M, a label she had been with for almost 20 years, Armatrading signed with RCA for her 1995 album What's Inside. Despite various television appearances and a full tour (which included a string quartet in addition to her stage band), the album was not a commercial success.
By 2003, and no longer attached to a major label, she released the album Lovers Speak. Her first album in eight years, it met with little commercial success.
Armatrading's music is considered to be mostly pop with forays into blues, rock, folk, jazz, and even reggae. Her latest album, 2007's Into the Blues, debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Blues Chart, making Armatrading the first UK female artist, and the first artist born in St Kitts to earn that distinction. Into the Blues, which Armatrading calls "the CD I’ve been promising myself to write for a long time," was nominated for a Grammy Award, also making her the first female UK artist to be nominated in the Grammy Blues category.
Armatrading appeared in Episode 4 of Live from Abbey Road performing "Tall In The Saddle" from her 1976 self-titled album, and "Woman In Love" from the album Into The Blues.
Armatrading also appeared on "Later ...Live with Jools Holland" where she performed "Love and Affection", and "A Woman In Love" and "My Baby's Gone" both from her 2007 "Into The Blues" album.
|Year||Album||UK Album Charts||U.S.||U.S. Blues||BPI certifications|
|1972||Whatever's For Us||-||-||-||-|
|1975||Back to the Night||-||-||-||Silver|
|1977||Show Some Emotion||6||52||-||Gold|
|1978||To the Limit||13||125||-||Silver|
|1979||How Cruel (EP)||-||-||-||-|
|1979||Steppin' Out (live album)||-||-||-||-|
|1980||Me Myself I||5||28||-||Gold|
|1981||Walk Under Ladders||6||88||-||Gold|
|1986||Sleight of Hand||34||70||-||Silver|
|1988||The Shouting Stage||28||100||-||Silver|
|1990||Hearts and Flowers||29||161||-||-|
|1992||Square the Circle||34||-||-||-|
|2004||Live All the Way from America||-||-||-||-|
|2007||Into The Blues||-||-||1||-|
|1983||Track Record ||18||113||-|
|1987||Classics Volume 21 (Canada only)||-|
|1991||The Very Best Of Joan Armatrading||9||-||Gold|
|1996||Love & Affection (2 CD)||-||-||-|
|2003||Love And Affection: Classics (1975–1983) (2 CD)||24||-||-|
|Year||Title||UK Singles Chart||U.S. Billboard Hot 100||U.S. Mainstream Rock|
|1976||"Love and Affection"||10||-||-|
|1980||"Me Myself I"||21||-||-|
|1980||"All the Way from America"||54||-||-|
|1983||"Drop the Pilot"||11||78||33|
|1983||"(I Love It When You) Call Me Names"||-||-||-|
|1986||"Kind Words (And a Real Good Heart)"||-||-||37|
|1988||"The Shouting Stage"||-||-||-|
|1988||"Living for You"||-||-||-|
|1990||"More Than One Kind of Love"||75||-||-|
|1991||"Love and Affection" (reissue)||-||-||-|
|1992||"Wrapped Around Her"||56||-||-|
|1995||"Shapes and Sizes"||-||-||-|
|1999||"The Messenger" (A tribute song for Nelson Mandela)
This was never released as a commercial single