Jo’s musical journey

Jo Harman, voted Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2014 British Blues Awards, plays the Spring Arts Centre, Havant on Friday, March 13.


Jo is currently working towards her second album – though she is not putting any pressure on herself.

“I am writing at the moment. I really wouldn’t like to say how far I have got, but it is getting there. I have quite a few songs in the mix. I am just going to see how it goes. We originally thought we would get it out at the end of the year, but it might be next year now. I just don’t want to put too much pressure on it. I am just trying to do exactly what I did with the first album and taking my time.

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“With any first album, you are making something that has been in the works through all your development time. I was developing as an artist really two or three years before that. With that first one, you have been writing for the sake of writing, to express yourself. The second album is always going to be different, especially when you have the pressure of having had a first album that has been well received.

“I have an idea of the kind of album I want to make, but you don’t know what form it will take. It’s about writing stuff that is important to me, experimenting with stuff, just trying to be honest and true and not worrying too much about the audience.”

As for the Vocalist of the Year award, Jo remains sceptical: “I am not entirely sure music is a competition, but it is really nice to be nominated and to win. But I am not entirely sure it has changed a lot. We have just continued to do what we are doing. Maybe it is helpful in some ways. My manager can tell the Americans about it.

“But I am not really comfortable with the blues tag either. For me the blues genre belongs to the African-American people. I am not American, and I am not black. People decide something is blues because it is three chords and a shuffle, but I am not sure I am a 
blues singer. I am not from that culture.”

“I am a singer-songwriter influenced by various different genres like blues and roots and acoustic and gospel and a bit of country.

“The appeal is there is something about that honesty, that faith, that belief. I am not really a religious person, but there is something about the whole gospel thing, where they totally believe that the word comes from a higher spirit... I can’t put my finger on it, but I love it.”

Originally from Devon, Jo went to university in London and came down to BIMM in Brighton when music reclaimed her: “Music and singing and song-writing had always been part of my life, and I missed it terribly when I was doing my degree. And then my father died which was a really big thing in my life that made me take stock of what I wanted to do. I missed him terribly. I was really miserable, and I started thinking ‘What would make me happy again?’ I just realised I wanted to write songs and be a singer.”