Born in New York City in the late-1960s and raised in various areas of Queens in NYC, Joi Cardwell’s early influences include Billie Holiday, Barbra Streisand, and Minnie R... read more
Joi Cardwell SpotifyJoi Cardwell iTunesJoi Cardwell Beatport


Born in New York City in the late-1960s and raised in various areas of Queens in NYC, Joi Cardwells early influences include Billie Holiday, Barbra Streisand, and Minnie Riperton. Cardwell appeared on stage at Carnegie Hall at the age of five in a dance recital and was used to being on a stage by the time she was a teenager. She worked as a back-up session vocalist for Melba Moore, Jermaine Jackson, LL Cool J, andThe Pointer Sisters. After graduating from New York University with degrees in English and Music, she studied Voice for a year primarily in order to master control, as she had already developed and retained her own personal style. After her studies, she wrote and published songs for major R&B acts such as Kashif, LA Posse and Malika Thomas.

Her close affiliation with Kashif led to an album deal with Arista Records in 1988 for her pop R&B girl-group, The Promise. Since the market in the 1980s was already saturated with sweet-sounding, bubbly R&B groups, it was difficult for The Promise to stand. As a result, Cardwell decided to answer an ad in the Village Voice that read, "Epic recording artist looking for a background singer for a live tour.” The recording artist turned out to be house music innovator Lil Louis of Lil Louis and The World, whose 1992 hits “Club Lonely” and “Saved My Life” from the album Journey with the Lonely featured Joi Cardwell on vocals. These remain staples in the history of dance music.

Cardwell’s experience as a vocalist and songwriter turned out to be exactly what Lil Louis had been searching for in a singer. He proved to be an early influence for Cardwell’s sound, which melds a new dance beat with a thoughtful lyrical twist. Cardwell creates material that sounds as though she’s musing quietly about life while a dancing throng gyrates with joy nearby, and her lyrics are soulful, romantic, and thought-provoking. Shortly after meeting Lil Louis, Cardwell conceived the single "Dancing in My Sleep, "and within a week of penning it, she was in Chicago cutting demos and well on her way to a career as a dance-hall diva and R&B songstress. When "Club Lonely "reached the number one mark, Cardwell distanced herself from the Lil Louis project. In 1993, she toured in Japan for eight months as a background singer for Japanese soul singer Toshinobu Kubota. Cardwell gleaned experience from the large overseas tour and returned to the U.S. significantly more focused and ready to tackle a solo singing career. In 1995, Cardwell contributed the single “The Creator Has A Master Plan” to the Brooklyn Funkessentials’ album Cool & Steady & Easy, and the single “Luv Connection” to the Towa Tei (of Deee-Lite) album Future Listening.

Cardwell released the single “Trouble” in 1994 on Eightball Records, which was a double-pack single including remixes from Satoshi Tomiie, Deep Dish and Junior Vasquez. Cardwell released an album titled The World is Full of Trouble in 1995, followed by Joi Cardwell in 1997. Cardwell’s second album combined three of her most successful singles, “You Gotta Pray,” “Soul to Bare,” and “Run to You,” with nine original tracks, and it received very favorable reviews and expanded her fanbase. In 1996, she toured with Toshinobu Kubota on the Oyeees! Tour.

Cardwell’s single “Holdin’ On” was created by producer Kyle “Small” Smith. It was originally sung by the teen music sensation Kim Moore and her male counterpart Jay, and Jay sang with Cardwell on the single as well. The single was also remixed into jazz versions. In 1997, Cardwell garnered attention with her hit singles “Run to You” and “Found Love” in her self-titled release in 1997. In 2000, she toured again as a background vocalist for her long-time friend Toshinobu Kubota during the Nothing But As One Tour. In 2003, Cardwell released a single “After the Rain” on her current manager’s label, Junior Vasquez Music. In 2005, Cardwell released her fourth album, Plain Jane Project. In 2007, she released her fifth album A Beautiful Life.

In 2008, Cardwell was nominated for Best Underground Track at the IDMA Awards for the song “ People Make The World Go Round” and at the same Winter Music Conference introduced Lady Gaga to the world as her opening act. In 2009 Wanderlust the soundtrack was released with collaborations with international artists such as Rasmus Faber, The Groove Junkies, Kenny Dope, Duce Martinez and others. In 2011, Joi released a limited edition of “Must Be the Music” to her closest fans, representing a departure from digital releases reacting directly with her audience base.

In 2013, Cardwell returned with a vengeance collaborating with Jon DaSilva and Maceoplex for a redo of her classic cover “You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else,” earning an IDMA award for Best Garage/House Track of the Year and previewing the new album Art of Being (500K+ YouTube views).


Joi Cardwell