“Music is my canvas …
What I feel, I paint.”
Some things are just meant to happen. If not, then we wouldn’t be graced right now by one of the most original and promising singer/songwriters to emerge on the contemporary R&B scene:
The scope of her creative talent is telling. Personally recruited by Kanye West to sing backup on his critically acclaimed Glow in the Dark tour, JoiStaRR has performed and recorded with such artists as Raphael Saadiq, T.I., Estelle and Musiq Soulchild. The onetime college biology major has also written songs with Chris Brown, Brandy and Mary Mary—all of this before releasing her own debut album.
But that’s about to change. Signed to My Block Inc., JoiStaRR is busy recording Magic, due this spring. In the meantime, the singer is whetting appetites with Magic Monday (available via www.joistarr.com). The savory collection of 20 original and cover tracks, named after her site’s popular weekly new music series, was released during an exclusive launch party hosted by producer and My Block CEO Warryn Campbell. The Jan. 16 event will air on an episode of My Block labelmates Mary Mary’s new reality show premiering on WE TV in March.
At the heart of Magic Monday and its 2011 predecessor, JoiStaRR’s critically acclaimed mixtape Broccoli & Noodles, are the singer’s rich, resonant vocals and innovative, vibrant sound that she’s dubbed “Art & Beat.” Her fresh fusion of R&B, gospel, electronic and world music gives JoiStaRR a broad canvas on which to paint a colorful array of rhythms and beats blended with lyrical impact. That originality shines on such self-penned tracks as “My Favorite” and “Drink My Pain Away” with up-and-comer Stacy Barthe and a standout cover of fellow genre-bending innovator Frank Ocean’s “Thinking ‘Bout You.” Guests on Magic Monday include the Game, Paul Wall and PJ Morton, the latter of whom joins the singer on the track “Nothing Really Matters.”
JoiStaRR says her five years of touring internationally with West helped to craft her vibrant sound. “We traveled to many countries overseas, and their music is so different than in the States. Their music sounds more free flowing, not too structured. My love for world music and my gospel base merged together to become a hodgepodge of emotions. Art and beat is the best way to describe it. My music is a canvas; what I feel, I paint.”
The Los Angeles native began feeling music at an early age. Growing up singing in church “since I could talk,” JoiStaRR recalls joining a gospel group with her brother and two other young men when she was seven. Listening to secular music or watching videos wasn’t allowed.
However, JoiStaRR turned out to be a natural performer whose delivery—reminiscent of a young Gladys Knight with some Tina Turner mixed in—“floored everybody,” she recalls. “They wondered where I got it from. But I was made fun of so bad that I became embarrassed and forgot about singing.”
Until college. A double major in biology and music, JoiStaRR found herself in the music room one day during her first year and began noodling out a song on the piano. “I wrote my first song and from there I knew I just had to sing. I couldn’t get rid of the urge.” But it took writing songs for others, including projects by Angie Stone and Brandy, to give JoiStaRR the final push to record her own songs.
Her first songwriting effort, a love song titled “Everything,” is what caught West’s ear and prompted the tour invitation. Initially a two-month gig that stretched into five years, the tour run gave JoiStaRR a prime opportunity to hone her vocal and songwriting skills. Since then, JoiStaRR has collaborated on songs for Chris Brown, Estelle for Slash and Mary Mary. Her own composition, “Mr. Forever,” landed on the soundtrack for the 2011 film “Jumping the Broom.”
With Campbell on board as executive producer for the upcoming Magic, JoiStaRR hopes to also work with fellow singer/songwriters Candice Nelson and the aforementioned Barthe. Inspired by the music of MGMT, Sade and Lauryn Hill, JoiStaRR also wants to expand her sound by working with European EDM producers. “I’m influenced by many different genres that come out of the dance music scene and DJ culture,” says the singer. “For years, I’ve had an undeniable affinity towards the music and its futuristic aesthetic.”
No matter how much she experiments, however, the momentum driving the former biology major remains the same: tapping into the healing magic of music. “Music is its own spirit that moves people,” explains JoiStaRR. “That’s why I chose Magic as my album title. It was music that sparked some type of magic within me when I was discouraged and wanted to give up.
“I want to use music to help pull the pain out of people and make them happy again. The music inside of me was the magic that finally connected all the pieces. Love is magic; music is magic. Even though I’ve wanted to at times, I can never let music go.”