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Joan Anita Barbara Armatrading, MBE, (born December 9, 1950) is a British singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Armatrading is a three-time Grammy Award-nominee. Additional achievements include a BA (Hons) degree in History from the Open University, of which she is a trustee.
It was only in 1975 that she was free to sign with A&M, and issued the album Back to the Night which was promoted on tour with a six-piece jazz-pop group called The Movies. Armatrading credited up-and-coming UK singer Elkie Brooks on the sleeve notes as she had cooked for Armatrading and the band in the studio while making the album, which was produced by Brooks' then-husband Pete Gage. A major publicity relaunch in 1976 and the involvement of producer Glyn Johns propelled her next album, Joan Armatrading, into the top 20 and spawned the top 10 hit single "Love and Affection". The album mixed acoustic work with jazz-influenced material, and this style was retained for the 1977 follow-up Show Some Emotion. This album was also produced by Glyn Johns, as was 1978's To the Limit. These albums included songs which continue to be staples of Armatrading's live shows, including "Willow", "Down to Zero", "Tall in the Saddle", and "Kissin' and a Huggin". Also at this time, Armatrading wrote and performed "The Flight of the Wild Geese", which was used during the opening and end titles for the 1978 war film The Wild Geese. A live album entitled Steppin' Out, which showcased her well-honed stage act, was released in 1979.
In 1980, Armatrading radically revised her playing style and released Me Myself I, a harder pop-oriented album produced by Richard Gottehrer, who had previously produced albums by Blondie. The album became Armatrading's highest ever charting album both in the UK and the US, while the title track became her second UK top 40 hit single. The same pop style was also evident on the 1981 album Walk Under Ladders and 1983's The Key. Both of these albums were also top 10 successes in the UK, with The Key also producing the hit single "Drop the Pilot", Armatrading's third UK top 40 hit single. To capitalise on her success, A&M released the "best of" compilation Track Record in 1983.
Armatrading's next studio album was 1985's Secret Secrets. The album was a top 20 hit but failed to yield any hit singles, cementing Armatrading's status as an "album artist". Taking over production responsibilities herself, she continued to record the albums Sleight of Hand (1986), The Shouting Stage (1988) and Hearts and Flowers (1990) for A&M Records, which all made the UK top 40 but failed to achieve the level of success of her earlier works despite successful national tours (a show from her 1988 "Shouting Stage" tour was also filmed for television).
In 1991, A&M released the compilation The Very Best of Joan Armatrading which returned her to the top 10. However, her following studio album for A&M, 1992's Square The Circle did not replicate this success and would be her final recording for the label. Following her departure from A&M, a label she had been with for almost 20 years, Armatrading signed with RCA for her 1995 album What's Inside. Despite various television appearances and a full tour (which included a string quartet in addition to her stage band), the album was not a commercial success.
By 2003, and no longer attached to a major label, she released the album Lovers Speak. Her first album in eight years, it met with little commercial success.
Armatrading's music is considered to be mostly pop with forays into blues, rock, folk, jazz, and even reggae. Her latest album, 2007's Into the Blues, debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard Blues Chart, making Armatrading the first UK female artist, and the first artist born in St Kitts to earn that distinction. Into the Blues, which Armatrading calls "the CD Iíve been promising myself to write for a long time," was nominated for a Grammy, also making her the first female UK artist to be nominated in the Grammy Blues category.
Armatrading has been nominated twice for a Brit Award as best female vocalist and has received an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection in 1996.
Armatrading was part of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour 2008.
Armatrading appeared in Episode 4 of Live from Abbey Road performing
"Tall In The Saddle" from her 1979 self-titled album, and "Woman In
Love" from the album Into The Blues.