Born in 1950 on the island of St. Kitts, British singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading was her country's -- as well as Britain's -- first woman to make commercial inroads into her chosen genre, spicing her take on folk with elements of rock, blues, and jazz, and has had a remarkably long, consistent career.
Armatrading immigrated to England in 1958 and began writing songs six years later. In 1970, she met lyricist Pam Nestor at a touring production of Hair, and the two began collaborating on material later featured on Armatrading's 1972 debut, Whatever's for Us. The two ended their partnership afterward, and Armatrading resurfaced in 1975 with Back to the Night. Featuring former members of Fairport Convention, 1976's Joan Armatrading catapulted the singer into the U.K. Top 20 and produced her only Top Ten single, "Love and Affection." Armatrading's subsequent albums sold well in the U.K. to her newly established fan base but only respectably in the U.S., where it took her until 1980 to have a real hit (the all-electric Me Myself I). The Key also did quite well, but Armatrading remained largely a cult artist with a small but devoted following in America, never quite achieving the stardom she had in Britain. Armatrading has been successful enough to tour and record regularly into the new millennium. She released Lovers Speak (Denon, 2003), Live: All the Way from America (Savoy, 2004), and her first all-blues project, Into the Blues (429, 2007), which debuted at number one on Billboard's Blues Albums chart -- a first for a U.K. female artist. The rollicking This Charming Life (also 429) arrived early in 2010, followed by Starlight in 2013. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi