Who says white gals can’t play the blues!...
Who says white gals can’t play the blues!
Joanne Shaw Taylor (3 October) has firmly established herself as a star of the blues rock world. Through hard work and near-constant touring, the girl with the big voice from the Black Country is now regarded as one of the hottest young names on the British Blues circuit.
Joanne mixes many different genres into her blues-based music, including attributes from rock, funk, soul and pop as sources of inspiration in her writing and playing. Though she has enough chops to keep up with the best in the business, she uses groove and emotion to draw in her audience. On top of this, she possesses a sultry voice that accentuates her playing and adds another level of musicianship to her artistic palette.
At 13 she played her first electric guitar. “Guitars were always lying around the house,” says Joanne. At 14, she defied her teachers to play The Marquee and Ronnie Scott’s, and began to overcome insecurity about her voice. “I never set out to be a singer,” she modestly told Classic Rock. “I’ve always had a deep voice. I think it came from my influences as a kid. When I was singing to records, I was listening to Albert Collins and Freddie King. When I was a teenager, I became a big rock fan: Glenn Hughes, Skin, Doug Pinnick. I wouldn’t get far on The X Factor!”
Joanne left school at 16 and ran straight into her big break, as a twist of fate directed her demo into the hands of Eurythmics icon Dave Stewart after a charity gig. Reflecting on his first impressions, Stewart recalls that “she made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.” His call the following day proved the start of a lasting friendship, with Joanne seeking his advice on the industry and accompanying his DUP supergroup across Europe in 2002.
Joanne’s debut album 'White Sugar' was crowned Blues Album Of The Month by Classic Rock, with Guitarist Magazine noting “she plays with more attitude and flair than most – massive potential here”.
Joanne was voted “Best British Female Vocalist” at the British Blues Awards in 2010 and 2011 and was invited as special guest to Annie Lennox performing at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert in June 2012.
In 2013, The Blues magazine wrote, “Joanne slips from bursts of muscular rhythm to searing riffs rooted in the blues but not dominated by it… JST bristles with self-confidence, energy and excitement.” While TV presenter Malcolm Gerrie said in the Sunday Times – “Who said white gals can’t play the blues? Killer licks, soaring solos and heart-wrenching vocals.”
2016 saw performances on Later With Jools Holland, BBC’s Glastonbury coverage and outstanding reviews for her latest album 'Wild'. Since then, it’s gone stratospheric, with Joanne breaking into the notoriously hard-to-crack US market and beating the stereotypes of her age and gender.
Joanne Shaw Taylor plays at The Apex on Wednesday 3 October at 7.30pm. Tickets are £23.50 standing (seated tickets have sold out), call the box office on 01284 758000 or see the website www.theapex.co.uk for more details, or to book.