JOI CARDWELL / “Joi Cardwell Mixtape”

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Unless you’re into house music, you’ve probably never heard Joi Cardwell, but let me nudge you a bit beyond normal comfort levels and encourage you to consider one of the most progressive vocalist on the contemporary scene.

Wait a minute, Kalamu, what you mean “progressive” and talking about thump-thump-thump-thump, four on the floor, all electronic, no acoustic instruments, drug-induced, crazy-ass club music that all sounds the same! Yeah, I know what you thinking but even in a blizzard, each snowflake is different—you just have to understand how to see what you're looking at.

I’m a sunshine kind of guy, don’t even dig chilly weather, not to mention snow but to every temperature, it’s own beauty. So here we go, ride with me.

What first attracted me to Joi Cardwell were here lyrics. You don’t even have to listen closely to know that there is something more going on with her music.
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Second, was the variety and range of her creations, far, far beyond what is normal on the club scene, or, as she says, she sings a whole more than “125-137 BPM (beats per minute).” Listen to the variety of approaches on this Mixtape. Joi is seriously conscious of making a variety of music not withstanding that she is primarily a dance music artist.

Like Joi sings, “could it be that I’m just misunderstood?”

But beyond the mis-communication, the big ish that sealed the deal for me was her business savvy and self-determination. What you talking about Kalamu? You saying money is the bottom line? Naw, naw, flip it. I mean the exact opposite. While a lot of people are trying to make as many Benjamins as quickly as they can, Joi took a different route. Let me break it down plain: Joi Cardwell owns her entire recording catalogue.

She ain’t no musical slave, neither no entertainment sharecropper. Listen to the sista talking to DJ Ron Slomowicz:

RS: You're definitely one to look to for advice because you've told me and you mention on your site that you own your entire catalogue.
Joi: Right.

RS: And that to me is just amazing, because that's so rare to hear today.
Joi: It's true, most people don't even have a catalogue in dance music, they've just got one record and that's it. It's so sad but unless you're a DJ, most recording artists don't. From what I get in the type of deal structures that even come to me, it doesn't even occur to people, I don't think, that they could even try to fight for it, honestly. I really don't think that they're even aware of the fact they can either ask for it or negotiate for it to try to get it at some point. They just don't feel that it's possible, it's kind of like this myth that people have that they think oh well, you know, if I want to make records I got to do this and do that. I think the paradigm is changing and that rock artists do it and rap artists do it. It's just a matter of really taking initiative and believing in what you do first and foremost, and then trying to build something that you can own. And I think that the more artists stand up for themselves and the more educated people get, and the more opportunities that are presented, the easier it'll be for people to do that. But you do have to put the work in too and a lot of people just don't really, they're not really interested in working, they just want to have fun and that's about it.
—Joi Cardwell interview
A lot of musicians talk the talk but how many can say they own all their music? Ya heard me? And that’s why I listen to Joi Cardwell.
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Regardless of all the changes in perception of women in the last forty or fifty years, we all know that women in music continue to be viewed mainly as sex objects to be visually and aurally consumed by males—whether those males are the ticket/record/down-loads buying Joe Public or the sugar daddy/Svengali industry moguls. Well, Joi is no cheap trill/Trilby. And if you don’t know, you better ask somebody. Better yet, I’m gonna tell you. I dig Joi cause Joi digs herself.

In the seventies our dream was total self-respect, self-determination, self-defense. We wanted it all and still do. Like the godfather said, we didn’t want nobody to give us nothing. Just open up the door and we would get it ourselves. In fact Joi has written a book on the subject: The Eye On The Game. The title is shorthand for her motto: “Keep Your Eye On The Game And Not The Fame.”
“…the inspiration mostly came from my friends in the business who just always seemed to be asking me a million questions about well, how do you do this, and what does this mean or what do you think about this deal? So, since people were always asking me questions and not paying attention to what I told them, I figured if I charged them for it they might take me a little more seriously.”
—Joi Cardwell
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Perhaps a key to understanding how it is Joi has done what she is done is in knowing that her background was not in being formally educated/trained in music but rather in being super-talented and willing to work harder than hard to get what she’s got. Yes, she is college educated but not college trained in music per se. And inevitably, the attitude and beliefs shine through in the music she creates.

RS: In addition to working with others you also produced your own music. Did you start out as a singer and pick up how to work with all the studio gear or are you a trained musician, or how did that all come about?
Joi: It's a little bit of both I guess, I've been on stage since I was three years old with my mum putting me in dance school to keep me busy and disciplined, and that led me to studying music, here and there over the years. Like any other kid I didn't stick with it, I'd studied piano lessons for six months and quit. Then I'd pick up the guitar and I'd study that for a little while and quit. So, it wasn't until I got to college where I actually started training as a vocalist, but at that point I had already had a record chilled. So, it just kind of happened that way, I think a lot of it is basically a gift from God and the rest is hard work and putting in the time to hone my craft, like any other apprentice type, craft job or craft profession.

RS: Part of that is definitely your live performances, you are quite a dynamic and energetic performer. How do you prepare for your live shows?
Joi: I try to remember the words first, that's usually the hardest part for me. I've written so many songs at this point, sometimes I can't remember, the verses start to cross over into each other. So I guess the biggest preparation I do is, I really don't sing a lot, I just listen to the material and basically let myself just be myself when I get on stage and kind of let the music take over. And really other than that, just sleep to make sure that my voice sounds as good as possible and that's really about it.
—Joi Cardwell interview

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And make no mistake, Joi is a dance-club diva of epic proportions. From 1995 to 2007 she was burning up the charts with eight hit singles in the top ten including two number one smashes. She can and does bring the noise, so we’re not merely trying to push ideology. Sister Joi is a true artist at the top of her game. 

Ok. Got it. Now check out Joi's music and, oh yeah, remember: dancing can be about more than just shaking ya ass! Be well. Stay strong/be bold.

—Kalamu ya Salaam

Joi Cardwell Mixtape Playlist

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01 “Love Someone”
02 “Sunshine”
03 “Love Lost”

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04 “Last Chance For Love (Pacific Drive Vocal)"Last Chance For Love

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05 “Found Love-Gomi's Global Village Vocal” - Found Love

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The Plain Jane Project
06 “I Got You”
07 “Misunderstood”
08 “What Kind Of Fool”
09 “Change Your Mind”
10 “Be Yourself”
11 “Love Is The Answer”

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A Beautiful Life
12 “Sweet Memories”
13 “It's Over”
14 “What Really Matters ( Guitar re-edit )”

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15 “People Make The World Go Round (Kenny Dope Main Mix)” - People Make The World Go Round

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Wanderlust the Soundtrack
16 “Killing Time”
17 “Shine (Get Up)”
18 “What's Freedom”

This entry was posted on Monday, November 22nd, 2010 at 4:44 pm and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “JOI CARDWELL / “Joi Cardwell Mixtape””

Gregory Ford Says:
November 23rd, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Thanks for posting this. I am not a dance floor person. Rather, my dance hall days are all behind me now, as the saying goes. So, I would never have run into her otherwise. But this is lovely minimalist, skillful stuff. Like what John Coltrane or Thelonius Monk does to a ballad. The right space at the right time. Just enough melody and verbiage to shape the space.

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