SoulMotion.co.uk: Jo Joshie Armstead
Contact us Chuck Jackson The Disc Doctor Jo Armstead
- a soul diva of the highest caliber, of course, but there's so much more to this lady of soul.
Writer, actor, clothes designer and even boxing promoter, she
seems to thrive on challenge and creating.
has recently finished studying for and gaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree from The New School University
in New York, majoring in the liberal arts.
is currently working on a number of projects including her
autobiography and has just produced a new album which is available now - exclusively from Soulmotion
This is a collection of previously unreleased masters from the period 1974 to 1990.
See the bottom of this page for more details.
I caught up with Jo
in New York during a cold weekend in March.
Although I was slightly nervous about the meeting, I needn't have been anxious.
was warm and personable, putting me at ease straight away.
I rambled on about I Feel An Urge Coming On being one of my all time favourite records and she
was modest and almost dismissive of it as "oh that old thing" .
took early inspiration from her
mother, the Reverend Evangelist R.A. Armstead.
However, despite her
weekly church meetings, Josephine
was introduced to the raw sounds of The Delta Blues by her
grandfather - a bootlegger and gambler nicknamed Shine because of his
shiny bald head.
"By the time I was in my teens, I was sneaking out to cafes, juke joints, and dances on Saturday nights.
Blues man Bobby 'Blue' Bland gave me my first opportunity to sing with a band".
recalls those early nightclub performances...
"The amplified sound of the guitar, bass, drums and piano with the horn section blasting away made the tiny nightclub atmosphere infectious.
I remember a hot sticky night and my body dripped with sweat.
I gave it my all and it was an intimate, hypnotic and totally exhausting experience".
began singing with a local band, Little Melvin & The Downbeats, and decided not to complete her
final year of high school to her
mother's horror and disappointment.
cut several records with the Turners and sang on their top twenty hit I'm Blue (The Gong Gong Song).
In 1962 Jo
settled in New York where she
had family members who had left Mississippi, and were living in Brooklyn.
first solo work under the name of Dina Johnson.
Explaining why she
had used another name:
is also credited with the top ten R&B hit Casanova (You're Playing Days Are Over) for Ruby Andrews.
was always more interested in the creative side of the recording business, rather than going on the road to promote her
"Even now, I write all the time.
I have pens and paper all over the place"
Picture at Cotton Club
: (left to right) Chandra Armstead, Nick ashford, Jo Armstead
, Finney, Hone, Valerie Simpson, Blackshear
W hen her marriage to Mel Collins faltered, Josephine returned to New York City and continued writing and working as a singer on commercials.
After leaving Gospel Truth, Jo
continued working in the New York studio scene, writing and publishing songs through her
company Ideas and Hunches Inc.
other creative interests include designing women's clothes, which she
is by all accounts very good at.
Jo has also performed in a number of theatre productions and even had a spell managing a boxer from Chicago.
In 1972 Jo
performed in the Broadway play Don't Play Us Cheap as well as being featured on the soundtrack.
we talked about the Northern Soul thing in the UK and she
says, "It's very comforting to know that there are people in another country somewhere, who are listening to artists like myself.
There are so many of us whose talent did not equal commercial success.
The emergence of Northern Soul is a phenomenon."
To find out more about Jo Armstead
, visit her
web site at www.joshiearmstead.com
To order either of her
CD's, simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jo Armstead - A Stone Good Lover
Jo Armstead - Red Hot
Preacher Rose - JA887
Enjoy these previously unreleased tracks taken from