Jo Harman blossoms with tour and new album

Alumni Success

Releasing a live album from the Royal Albert Hall, signing an American deal, or recording an album in Nashville with a sought-after producer – it’s always exciting to check in on super-talented BIMM alumna Jo Harman to see her career in full blossom.

Since graduating from BIMM Brighton with her Vocals Diploma in 2008, Jo took the music world by storm with her unmistakably rich and charismatic voice. Live performance is the name of the game in the high-standard world of blues and soul, and it’s where Jo has truly excelled – which is why she’s worked as tour support for big name acts like The Cranberries and Don Mclean.

With the help of such high-profile support slots and her tireless performance schedule, Jo has made a name as a live professional to be reckoned with, resulting in performances at massive events like Parkpop at The Hague in 2013.

Things took a leap forward for Jo in 2014 when she took home the award for Best Female Vocals at the British Blues Awards, one of the multiple nominations for Jo and her band that year. It seemed like a good time to release some material, and at the end of the year Jo put out a live album with the BBC from a legendary music venue – ‘Jo Harman and Company: Live at the Royal Albert Hall (A BBC Recording)’.

It seemed only right she should make a headlining appearance at London’s Blues Fest the following year, the same year she signed a music deal with Sands Foley Entertainment in the US. The fruits of that signing are now tantalisingly close as Jo has been working on a brand new studio album, her follow-up to the critically-admired ‘Dirt On My Tongue’ in 2013.

It’s been an intense rollercoaster so far, but does Jo have any personal career highlights since graduating from BIMM?

“There are so many. Signing to V2 in Europe, home of Adele and Mumford and Sons, playing to three hundred thousand people at Parkpop, singing with Joan Baez in Berlin, recording this new album with a big budget in Nashville with some of the world’s best musicians are some! But mostly, just touring and working as an originals artist, under my own terms, is the biggest success in itself.”

Jo recorded the new album in Nashville with producer Fred Mollin, who over the years has worked with true vocal greats like Carole King, Joe Cocker, Barbra Streisand and Rumer. Jo also got to work with some of Nashville’s top session players in the legendary music town and Fred Mollin himself has referred to her album as a ‘masterpiece’!

We asked Jo about her Nashville adventure…

“Nashville was a life-enhancing experience. The whole experience was magical, being given a private tour of Willie Mitchell’s famed studio in Memphis by his son and seeing Al Green perform in his church were just a couple of bonus features!”

What can we expect from the new album?

“It’s a ‘Jo Harman’ record, so gospel, roots, blues, and soul are never too far from the surface, but otherwise it’s a difficult record to describe. I guess I’m very influenced by my late father’s diverse 1970s vinyl collection, so it’s a very ‘song’ based album too.”

While we patiently await a release date, Jo Harman fans have been enjoying some UK live shows. Jo is touring with a group of incredible musicians including Carl Hudson on keys, Nat Martin on guitar, BIMM tutor Terry Lewis on bass and Magic Johnson on drums, with support from soul singer Seany Clarke, ex-frontman of HardKandy. Live dates continue until March so check the tour schedule and be sure to catch Jo’s beautiful vocals live. In October, she’ll play the Worthing Live Music Festival alongside Donovan, Lesley Garrett, Russell Watson, Sarah Jane Morris, Liane Carroll, Lindisfarne and many more.

We asked Jo for some advice for BIMM students taking their first career steps…

“If you want to be an originals artist, be yourself. Lead, don’t follow. And get out there and do it. If you want a sustainable career, you have to pay your dues. An overnight success generally comes with an overnight crash!”

BIMM are excited about Jo’s album and to see where her fantastic career goes next. If you want to start your music career in Jo’s footsteps, a BIMM Diploma offers you a skill-set and some truly strong foundations that will put you on the right track. The opportunity to network, to improve your writing and musicianship, to meet and speak with working industry professionals, and, of course, lots of hard work, can all have a tremendous impact on your music career from day one – just ask Jo Harman.

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POSTED ON: March 14, 2016
  • Brighton, Vocals