Armatrading’s ‘Starlight’ to shine in Derry’s Forum

Joan Armatrading who will be playing the Millennium Forum on Friday September 21. Photograph by Joel Anderson.
Joan Armatrading who will be playing the Millennium Forum on Friday September 21. Photograph by Joel Anderson.
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Joan Armatrading will grace the stage of the Millennium Forum on Friday September 21.

The Saint Kitts born, Birmingham reared singer of such hits as ‘Drop the Pilot’ and ‘Love and Affection’ is touring to promote her latest album ‘Starlight.’

The beautifully jazz infused album is the final third of a blues, rock and jazz trilogy by the Ivor Novello award winning songwriter.

However in discussing her latest album the affable Joan proved more interested in promoting her local support acts. The former Grammy nominee has secured the services of a local performer on each leg of her tour. A move she described as “really exciting”.

Joan Armatrading fans will have found her latest offering, her 19th studio album ‘Starlight’ both exciting and yet a slight departure for her.

She explains: “I feel the surprise for people is in me moving through the genres. Starlight seems the slowest in terms of people getting into it. The jazz element shouldn’t be a surprise though. It was always my intention to record a blues album (2007 ‘Into the Blues,’) followed by a rock release (‘2011s ‘This Charming Life’) and then a jazz album.”

The release of Starlight marks Armatrading’s third studio album in five years, with last year’s ‘Live at the Albert Hall’ thrown in for good measure. There has been almost one studio album every twenty four months in a career spanning four decades, yet only three releases in the 15 years which preceeded ‘Into the Blues”. So where has the spark of creativity come from?

“There was no purple patch,” said the singer; “The albums come out like that now. In the early years it was one release every year then big long tours became the norm.

“The tours are enjoyable I really like being on the road. I write so much and tend to tour after each album. I love to write, then tour the album and let people hear the songs live. I approach touring, writing, recording, everything, every record, every gig the same. I’m there to make the audience happy, there to present the songs that people really like, to talk to them. Let them talk to me. I’m, no we the band, are there to make the audience happy. That is the same no matter the size of the audience. It doesn’t matter if it is a big or small audience. I always like all the gigs, audiences are really really good, a great feeling when some gigs are special. It is a really nice feeling when you get a spark.”

Despite her denials of a ‘purple patch’ it was perhaps the ‘spark’ of ‘Into The Blues’ which provided the impetus for the wealth and pedigree of her latest releases. The album reached number 1 on the US Billboard Blues chart and earned the recording artist a 2007 Grammy nomination. In topping that chart Joan became the first UK female singer to do so. “Well the latest albums all had their own specific writing challenges. I think I needed that for me. They were all very interesting and I loved doing all of them.” Starlight is available in all good record shops and Joan Armatrading will appear at The Millennium Forum on Friday September 21.