Mervin Malone
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Thursday, April 06, 2006
Mervin's 13 Questions with seminal house and soul music siren, Joi Cardwell!

Mervin's 13 Questions with seminal house and soul siren, Joi Cardwell!
Well, a little about you Ms. Cardwell…
You started singing at a very young age. Indeed, you had the esteemed pleasure of singing at Carnegie Hall when you were but 5 years old.
1. Do you come from a musical family?

My family wasn't particularly musically talented, but they were greatly appreciative of music and exposed me to everything from classical to jazz to Ray Charles to Carly Simon and of course – Soul, Funk and Disco.

2. Did you know from a young age that the arts — specifically music — were your professional calling?

I had a clue that I wanted to create and was encouraged to explore my creative side. By the time I was 6, I had my own tape recorder, stereo and organ (that was the thing in the '70s).

3. Who were some of your favorite singers/musicians as a child?

My favorite singers were: Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday...

You've shown — for lack of a better word — a stratospheric vocal range; on songs like "Found Love" and "Run To You", you demonstrate a very effortless upper register…
4. What is your vocal range in octaves?

My vocal range at one time was like five octaves, but as you get older it kind of shrinks so now I'm not really sure.

5. Are you classically or operatically trained?


I am trained – not classical or opera – more like Broadway actually.

I'd like to switch gears and talk about your other half – Joi Cardwell, the songwriter! Your songwriting is masterful – complex, yet accessible – all of your songs seem very personal….
6.  Where do you most often find inspiration when composing songs?


My inspiration for my songs comes from life itself – my life – the life of my friends  – situations I see…

7. Whose songwriting has really had an effect on your music?


Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield spoke to me as social writers with great sensitivity — I also was influenced by Irving Berlin and the Gershwin Brothers. A great song is always something that is timeless and I strive for that — songs that people can listen to no matter what beat is behind it.
Here at Aria, we are often critical of the mainstream musical press – check out any one of the past Q & As. The media — Stateside — is terribly biased and unschooled on dance music. They typically define dance as a strictly singles-driven genre, with albums a second consideration. You have largely refuted this with your innovative album work.
8. Which of your three albums — The World is Full of Trouble – Joi Cardwell – Deliverance — are you most proud of?

Well I am proud of them all for different reasons.  First and foremost, I'm happy to have been able to record albums at all; it was a determining factor of my signing with Eight ball. Second, I'm proud of the World Is Full Of trouble because it was my first effort and was recorded totally live in 24 hours.  Joi Cardwell kind of established me in the club scene, and Deliverance was the first real look into my other soulful side – so they are all very important to me.

Your early-to-mid '90s' collaborations – the housy "Club Lonely", the deep-house track "I Won't Waste Your Time" and the acid-jazzy "Luv Connection" (done with Lil' Louis, Frederick Jorio and Towa Tei respectively) – fully cemented your status as one of dance music's most adaptable performers.
9. Are there any upcoming collaborations in the works?

I am always willing to work with anyone whose music moves me — on my new record The Plain Jane Project, I work with Soul C. – Quentin Harris – Brian McDermott – Philip Woo (keyboardist from Frankie Beverly) – Mike Cruz... 
You've also worked with many of dance music's elite -- Frankie Knuckles – Hani – Peter "Ski" Schwartz – Brinsley Evans…
10. Who would you like to work with in the future?


I would love to work with David Morales — we have been trying for years to get it together, and ideally Lenny kravitz for a different twist. I just wrote a song for Gerideau with Lem Springsteen of Mood II Swing as well – so I keep it moving

Your 1999 album, Deliverance was different from its predecessors. The vibe was  decidedly more R&B – jazzier, even….
11. Do you plan to experiment with this sound anymore in the future?

I am and always will be a soul singer — some people forget that because the music is more progressive at times. But at that time in my life, my Mom was ill and dying — I needed to write a record that reflected my moods and needs — the dance thing wasn't doing it for me. I included some of those elements again in The Plain Jane Project with the songs "Change Your Mind" and "I Got U". Oh, and the ballad "What Kind of Fool" is a straight-up nod to classic Aretha Franklin; it's co-writer – Phillip Woo – and I wrote it on the road with Toshi Kubota, my Japanese homeboy.
Continuing on that note, your work with Toshi Kuboto is immaculate!
12. Do you have any plans to record a neo-classical soul album?

I would love to record a neo-soul album and may do so in the near future, but for now I gotta please my dance heads and make that music as well — so next project will have a little bit of both, or maybe not. I can tell you that what I feel – I do – and I have to thank God for the opportunity to be able to create that way.
13. What's next for Joi Cardwell?

Finally – I am off to law school in the fall so I will be able to help my fellow artists in their dreams of a musical career with the knowledge that the choices made in business are knowledgeable ones that they can live with. "I may not be able to change the world, but I know I can change my life, it's time for a revolution and its gonna start tonight".

You can visit Ms. Cardwell at

Posted at 05:52 pm by Mervin Malone


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