BORN IN NEW YORK CITY IN THE LATE-1960S AND RAISED IN VARIOUS AREAS OF QUEENS IN NYC, JOI CARDWELL’S EARLY INFLUENCES INCLUDE BILLIE HOLIDAY, BARBRA STREISAND AND MINNIE RIPERTON. CARDWELLAPPEARED ON STAGE AT CARNEGIE HALL AT THE AGE OF FIVE IN A DANCE RECITALAND WAS — USED TO BEINGON A STAGE BY THE TIME SHE WAS A TEENAGER. SHE WORKED AS A BACK-UPSESSION VOCALIST FORMELBA MOORE, JERMAINE JACKSON, LL COOL J AND THE POINTER SISTERS. AFTER GRADUATING FROM NEW YORK UNIVERSITY WITH DEGREES IN ENGLISH AND MUSIC, SHE STUDIED VOICE FOR A YEAR PRIMARILYIN ORDER TO MASTER CONTROL, AS SHE HAD ALREADY DEVELOPED AND RETAINED HER OWN PERSONAL STYLE. AFTER HER STUDIES, SHE WROTE AND PUBLISHED SONGS FOR MAJOR R&B ACTS SUCHAS KASHIF, LA POSSE AND MALIKA THOMAS.
Her close affliation with Kashif led to an album dealwith Arista Records in 1988for her pop R&B girl-group, The Promise. Since the market in the 1980s wasalready saturated with sweet-sounding, bubbly R&B groups, it was diffcult for The Promise to stand. As a result, Cardwell decided to answer an ad inthe Village Voice that read,“Epic recording artist lookingfor a background singer for alive tour.” The recording artistturned out to be house musicinnovator Lil Louis of Lil Louisand The World, whose 1992hits “Club Lonely” and “SavedMy Life” from the album“Journey with the Lonely”featured Joi Cardwell onvocals. These remain staplesin the history of dance music.Cardwell’s experience asa vocalist and songwriter turned out to be exactly what Lil Louis had been searching for in a singer. He proved to be an early influence for Cardwell’s sound, which melds a new dance beat with a thoughtful lyrical twist. Cardwell creates material that sounds as though she’smusing quietly about life whilea dancing throng gyrates with joy nearby, and her lyrics aresoulful, romantic and thought-provoking. Shortly aftermeeting Lil Louis, Cardwell conceived the single “Dancingin My Sleep,” and within aweek of penning it, she wasin Chicago cutting demos andwell on her way to a careeras a dance-hall diva andR&B songstress. When “ClubLonely” reached the #1 mark,Cardwell distanced herselffrom the Lil Louis project. In1993, she toured in Japan foreight months as a background singer for Japanese soulsinger Toshinobu Kubota. Cardwell gleaned experience from the large overseas tour and returned to the U.S.significantly more focused and ready to tackle a solo singing career. In 1995, Cardwellcontributed the single “The Creator Has A Master Plan” to the Brooklyn Funkessentials’ album “Cool & Steady &Easy,” and the single “LuvConnection” to the Towa Tei(of Deee-Lite) album “Future Listening.
Cardwell released the single“Trouble” in 1994 on Eightball Records, which was a double-pack single including remixes from Satoshi Tomiie, DeepDish and Junior Vasquez. Cardwell released an album titled “The World is Full of Trouble” in 1995, followedby “Joi Cardwell” in 1997. Cardwell’s second album combined three of her most successful singles, “You Gotta Pray,” “Soul to Bare,” and “Run to You,” with nine original tracks, and it received very favorable reviews and expanded her fan base.In 1996, she toured withToshinobu Kubota on the Oyeees! Tour.
Cardwell’s single “Holdin’ On” was created by producer Kyle “Small” Smith. It was originally sung by the teen music sensation Kim Mooreand her male counterpart Jay,and Jay sang with Cardwell onthe single as well. The single was also remixed into jazz versions. In 1997, Cardwell garnered attention with herhit singles “Run to You” and“Found Love” in her self-titled release in 1997. In 2000, she toured again asa backgroundvocalist forher long-time friend Toshinobu Kubota during the Nothing But As One Tour. In 2003,Cardwell released a single“After the Rain”on her current manager’s label, Junior Vasquez Music. In 2005, shereleased her fourth album, “Plain Jane Project.” In 2007,she released her fifth album, “A Beautiful Life.” In 2008,Cardwell was nominated for Best Underground Track at the IDMA Awards for the song “People Make the World Go Round,” and at the sameWinter Music Conference introduced Lady Gaga tothe world as her opening act. In 2009 Wanderlust the soundtrack was released with collaborations with international artists such as Rasmus Faber,The Groove Junkies,Kenny Dope, Duce Martinez and others. In 2011, Cardwell released a limited edition of “Must Bethe Music” to her closest fans, representing a departure from digital releases reacting directly with her audience base.
In 2013, Cardwell returned with a vengeance collaborating with Jon DaSilva and Maceoplex for a redo of her classic cover “You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else,” earning an IDMA award for Best Garage/House Trackof the Year and previewing the new album “Art of Being”(which now has more than 500,000 YouTube views). “Art of Being” showcases Cardwell’s keen understanding of bridging the past and the future of dance music. From a writer’s perspective, it was Joi’s first album created while living alone; the collection is imbued with themes of love, life and living while looking at the world from a place of solitude, experience and reflection. Free to be in every way, Joi Cardwell brilliantly and uniquely collaborated with those whose vibe and timing was right for the future, but respectful of the past, and without regard to country,experience or name (thoughit boasts heavy weight producers as well as incredibly talented new comers). The result is a lyrical and musical masterpiece that arrives with just the right mood, at just the right time.