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All the while, no matter the accolade, Joan Armatrading has focused on the music.
"I write," she says, "because I love it. When first you hear the voice, rich, warm, remarkable, it's a voice that suits a secret sharer, a woman who tells the truth. For 33 years, Joan Armatrading has done just that-- in songs crafty, subtle and sublime. Armatrading's songs are in the truest sense soul music; even at their boldest, driven by her passionate guitar, they touch the listener like a whisper to the ear, like confessions from heart to heart.
Armatrading's backing musicians have included members of Little Feat, Fairport Convention, XTC and Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. She works only with the finest, like Darryl Jones (Rolling Stones), Tony Levin (King Crimson), Manu Katche (Sting), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty) and studio stalwart Greg Phillingames. Joan has also worked with an impressive list of producers and co-producers legend Glyn Johns, Gus Dudgeon, Steve Lillywhite, David Tickle (Prince, Debbie Harry).
Working with such a varied cast comes naturally to Armatrading. Effortlessly eclectic, her sound ranges from share soul to sophisticated pop --an apt mix for a performer born under the palms of the West Indies and raised beneath the smokestacks of Birmingham England. Her first guitar a gift from her mother - a pawn shop exchange for two old prams - Joan by the early 70's had moved to London and released her debut, Whatever's for Us. The career that followed has seen the birth of classics - "Love and Affection," Down to Zero" "Drop the Pilot" "Me Myself I." Joan has been a long time supporter and performer for the Princes Trust.
Joan played for Nelson Mandela oh his 70th birthday at Wembley Stadium in London and at the end of 1999 Joan was asked to write a tribute song the former President of South Africa. On April the 6th 2000, Nelson Mandela made a private visit to London and Joan, backed by The Kingdom Choir, had the honour of singing that special song entitled 'The Messenger' to him. Mr. Mandela danced and smiled on stage through out the entire song. Click this link to hear the song
Joan has received the Key to Sydney and was a guest of honour at her home country's Independence Celebrations.
She was nominated twice as Best female vocalist for the Brit awards and also nominated twice for the American Grammy Award of Best Female Vocalist. She received the Ivor Novello awarded for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection in 1996 all along with numerous platinum, gold and silver albums and consistent, enviable critical acclaim.
Joan released a CD of 'Lullabies With A Difference' in December 1998 for a children's charity called PACES. The charity helps children with cerebral palsy. She asked friends and musicians whom she admires, like Mark Knopfler, Jools Holland, Midge Ure, Tina Turner, The Cranberries, Melissa Etheridge, Brian May, Sarah Randle, Lewis Taylor and of course Joan Armatrading, to give a song with a lullabies theme. As you can see the response was tremendous. Joan says the aim of the CD is to make people aware of this dedicated children's charity.
Her most recent achievements have included being nominated as one of the 100 most influential women in rock in the VH1 poll at the end of 1999. Joan received a platinum CD for her participation with other artists in the Lou Reed song Perfect Day by the BBC for sales of over 1 million.
2001 after five years of studying Joan received her BA (Hons) Open University Degree in History. She has been awarded an Honorary Degree from Birmingham University. She was made an Honorary Fellow of the John Moores University of Liverpool and of Northampton University. In 2003 Joan was invited to become one of the Trustees of the Open University. Joan was elected President of Women of The Year In the United Kingdom in 2005 for a term of 5 years.