"A powerful, animated blues-rock singer, capable guitarist and pianist, and a writer of praiseworthy originals. - Jon Bream, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Joyann Parker brings a full range of talent to her performances as an accomplished singer, pianist, guitarist and songwriter. She has performed for thousands at major venues and festivals across the country, frequently sells out the most prestigious clubs in the Twin Cities and garnered national and international attention for her newest record, "Hard To Love." Joyann is a 2018 Blues Blast Magazine Music Award nominee and Heritage guitars artist. She has opened for Grammy winner Robert Cray, taken the stage for Grammy nominee Elvin Bishop in a pinch, represented Minnesota at the 2015 International Blues Competition in Memphis, TN and won the award for 2016's Best Self-Produced CD from the Minnesota Blues Society.
Current Release - "Hard To Love"
On "HARD TO LOVE", Parker travels from the Memphis-style soul of “Envy” to the New Orleans-flavored “Ray.” The eminently danceable “Dizzy” inspires images of Motown’s Temptations and Four Tops dancing their signature choreography. The darkly simmering soul-blues ballad “Jigsaw Heart” finds Parker pondering where a rocky relationship is going. Singing with ever-present conviction, Parker asks more tough questions in “Who What When Where Why.” Despite being an ultimatum to a lover, the Stax-meets-Motown throw-down is another of the album’s infectious dance tunes. Parker hits more targets with the primal, Robert Johnson-based “Take My Heart and Run” and Chuck Berry-inspired rock and roll of “What Happened to Me.” More revelations appear in the album’s title song, “Hard to Love.” Turning from roots music, Parker exploits her voice’s beauty and range most of all in the piano-accompanied title track -- a song in the melodic vein of the great American songbook. No matter what she's singing -- Joyann Parker's songs have an emotional honesty.
After singing in church most of her life, Joyann Parker embraced the blues. A classically trained pianist with a degree in music from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, Parker loves the music’s heartfelt honesty.
“I didn’t know anything about blues until about four years ago,” the Minneapolis-based singer, songwriter, band leader and multi-instrumentalist says. “But then it just clicked. I said, ‘This is what I am supposed to do.’ ”
On April 13, Parker released her new album, "Hard To Love." The project offers more evidence of the singer’s new-found blues power.
Parker co-wrote and co-produced the album’s 13 songs with Mark Lamoine, guitarist in the band. The selections include the inspirational, gospel-linked “Home,” the Memphis soul-style “Envy” and Motown-based “Dizzy.”
Before Parker became a blues singer, she knew only such obvious examples as Eric Clapton’s and Zed Zeppelin’s blues interpretations. The door to authentic blues and soul music opened almost accidentally. After Parker sang Aretha Franklin’s soul classic, “Chain of Fools,” at a singing contest, she received an invitation to join a blues band.
Accustomed to studying music formally, Parker consequently educated herself about the blues.
“I started going to the blues jams in town, trying to figure out what it’s all about,” she says. “And that was it. It just clicked for me.”
When Parker sings blues or soul, she’s totally convincing. No one would guess she’s not a from Mississippi and Louisiana. In fact, Parker is from rural Wisconsin. She’s lived in Minneapolis for 17 years. Minneapolis, however, is a Mississippi River town, just like the music-rich cities St. Louis, Memphis, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
In 2015, Parker traveled to Memphis to be the Minnesota Blues Society’s representative in the International Blues Challenge. The experience inspired her to write the songs that appear on Hard to Love.
“After I went to the Stax Museum in Memphis, it was like somebody lit a fire under me,” she says. “I thought, ‘I love this music. I want to write it.’ I went home and wrote the songs. When I give myself time to be creative and I’m inspired, too, music just comes out of me.”
Every song Parker writes comes from the heart.
“But they’re not all about me by any means,” she says. “I believe part of being a songwriter is taking your story and weaving it with other people’s stories. Together, they make a good story. And I don’t write ‘Oh, baby, oh, baby’ lyrics. I can’t do that. I write songs that somebody, somewhere may hear and then say, ‘Oh. How does she know me?’ People always come see me after a show. I love that. When a song I wrote affects people’s lives, that’s great for the songwriter in me.”
Because she sings and composes songs that have emotional honesty, Parker is very much in the great American blues tradition.
“I love the realism of blues so much,” she says. “It’s so earthy. Blues doesn’t pull any punches. I can’t help but be moved by that.”
Parker wants anyone who doesn’t know the blues genre to experience the indigenous American music that’s been so influential on the world’s music.
“I’ve been performing for some younger crowds,” she says. “They say they don’t like blues. People in general say that. I tell them, ‘I think you do.’ And after I perform something for them, they say, ‘Oh. I love that song.’ I say, ‘That’s blues.’ Every kind of music they like comes from blues. The music in a restaurant, in a movie or TV soundtrack, there’s always a blues tune.”
In addition, Parker and Lamoine recently launched a new show, The Music of Patsy Cline. She’d already been featuring songs by the classic country artist in the band’s shows.
“Old-school country and blues are very close,” Parker says. “But when I listen to Patsy Cline, I hear a blues singer. She’s singing from her soul. Patsy said, ‘Hoss, if you can’t do it with feeling -- don’t.’ That’s how I feel. And I almost have exactly the same range Patsy had. I’ve got that contralto voice, so I’m doing everything in the original key. I love singing her songs, and I love her so much.”
"Joyann Parker presents a package of originals and serves notice that she’s a blues performer to the bone. Bravely risking emotional exposure, this Minneapolis- based singer and multi-instrumentalist shows a penchant for depicting a unique response to the ups and downs of life. The album sweeps through well-titled numbers like “Envy,” “Evil Hearted,” and “Take My Heart And Run.” Parker and company work styles ranging from Chuck Berry and bluesy funk to French Quarter parades and Memphis soul approximations." (Frank-John Hadley/DownBeat Magazine)
Hard To Love" is a colorful musical tapestry woven by a consummate artist out of the warp and wool of jazz, soul and blues. Parker's passionate vocals deliver what might be one of the best albums of the year so far." (Henry L. Carrigan/Living Blues Magazine)
"Blasting forth defiantly ('You say you're gonna change/But I ain't staying to find out') with the throbbing 'Memphis,' the Minnesota blueswoman throws down a guantlet and sets a highbar of expectations that the rest of this 13-track album generally meets. It showcases her as a singing, songwriting (with guitarist Mark Lamoine), guitar-playing, self-producing, self-aware powerhouse, but the driving force is unquestionably her voice - a formidable instrument she wields with soul and taste. RIYL Shemekia Copeland and Janiva Magness." (Bliss/Pasadena Weekly)
“There’s some serious singing and musicianship afoot here...she's got the pipes and comes across honestly and passionately...on firmly planted ground singing the smoldering, slow-burning Stax-like ballads.” - Jim Hynes/Elmore Magazine
"this woman has found the inner meaning of the word SOUL and she has made it her purpose to explore it thoroughly." (Bob Gottlieb/No Depression)
"the next great Twin Cities blues singer...Joyann Parker is the best Twin Cities blues singer you've never heard. Imagine a sober Janis Joplin. And that's a good thing. Imagine a taller Shemekia Copeland without the my-dad-was-a-blues-star pedigree. And that's a really good thing. There's pain in Parker's heart - and in just about every song she writes and sings. And, onstage, the grimace on her face, the clenched fists and the ache in her roar let listeners know that she knows hurt...Whatever she plays, Parker owns it." (Jon Bream/Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
“Parker's voice is mesmerizing...this album is one of the year's best.” — Richard Ludmerer, Making A Scene
"The immense, propulsive bass notes that open the album are the first hint that we are in for a treat with Hard To Love...Promising that, "By the time I get to Memphis, you'll be gone,' Parker (producer, guitar, piano and trumpet) wastes no time establishing her power as a vocalist and bandleader. Her blend of blues and roots includes plenty of Memphis-Muscle Shoals spirited soul, and with just a hint of country in her voice...Like the best soul-enriched blues, Hard To Love contains tales of trouble, misplaced devotion, and broken vows and shattered hearts. Some songs simmer with desire ('Jigsaw Heart' and 'Home') while other songs shade their passions behind a danceable beat that few this side of the late Sharon Jones can manage ('Dizzy' for example). Like the best of songwriters, Parker takes her experiences and threads them through those of others, creating relatable songs containing universal truths. And, you can dance to it! (Donald Teplyske/Fervor Coulee)
"some of the smokiest, smokingest green eyed soul you are going to encounter. Killer stuff throughout." - Chris Spector /Midwest Record
"Joyann Parker's voice is sensously soulful and it raises the temperature on a wide variety of blues styles here...The title track, 'Hard To Love,' is an emotion-packed torch song. It could have been a standard from the Great American Songbook....her sound is hot, hot, hot!" (Paul Freeman/Pop Culture Classics)
"we are dealing with a future big star here....the rawness of a female singer like Elkie Brooks and the soul of female vocalists like Joss Stone and Dusty Springfield...very soulful...impressive." (Peter Marinus/Blues Magazine NL)
"By opening full-throated and scorned, 'Memphis' immeidately disintegrates any illusion of demureness that Hard To Love's lace and lipstick cover might mistakenly relay. Joyann Parker is the fiery femme fatale...And besides tripling up on guitar and trumpet, the Minneapolis-based pianist writes darn-good tortured love songs." (Dennis Rozanski/Baltimore BluesRag)
"a powerful, sassy, soulful singer who also plays guitar, piano and trumpet and wrote all 13 of the songs on Hard To Love...Ms. Parker really shines...Her voice just plain soars." (Bill Mitchell/BluesBytes)
“If you want music with a whole lot of soul and passion, music that can move your heart one moment, then move your feet the next, check out the new release from Joyann Parker, Hard To Love.” — Michael Doherty
“Fans, they don’t write just any blues songs–this duo creates soulful, passionate trips into the listener’s heart, just the way they wrote ’em back in the days of Sam, Dave, Aretha, Dan, and Spooner.” — Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society
"The new Queen of the Blues! A global star is born and she shines on the horizon." - Rootstime.be
"Joyann Parker's voice is a revelation, what an instrument she processes. It is sublime, passionate, sensual, guttural, powerful, breathtaking, mesmerizing." - Peter Merrett, PBS 106.7
"Joyann Parker... has a stage presence you cannot resist. Parker will pull tears out of you no matter how hard you fight it, make you smile and love the one you’re with. Resistance is futile with this big, solid band." - Wausau City Pages