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Joi Cardwell

Joi Cardwell sang for the pleasure of it before she turned professional and started contributing backing vocals for a list of other artists that includes LL Cool J, the Pointer Sisters, and Jermaine Jackson. A native of New York City, she stepped onto the stage at Carnegie Hall when she was five years old, singing "Three Blind Mice" as part of her school's performance there. Her teen years saw the dream of performing solidify, and she enrolled in New York University as a liberal arts major with a concentration in philosophy and literature. During her time at NYU, she entered a talent competition hosted by Harlem's Apollo Theatre. She earned top prize a total of five times, the first time by belting out "For Your Eyes Only." It wasn't long before she turned professional and started touring with Ben E. King. Producer Kashif tapped her to join a group called the Promise in 1989. The all-girl outfit made one album, but the recording was never released. Within two years, Cardwell quit to strike out on her own. She sang on the dance numbers "Saved My Life" and "Club Lonely" in 1992. During this time she sang backup for others, while her own solo career took her to a string of labels. She put out "Was It Something I Said" for Epic, "Holdin' On" for Freetown Records, and "Hot Little Body" for Tribal America, which also featured Behavior and Fred Jorio. A new career phase started in 1994, when Cardwell signed with Eightball Records, an independent label based in New York. She penned all the songs on The World Is Full of Trouble, her debut album, which she also produced. The 1995 album launched the hit single "Trouble." She went on to score hits with the singles "You Got to Pray," "Run to You," "Jump for Joi," and "Soul to Bare." A self-titled album was released in 1997, followed shortly by the 1998 remix compilation Clubland's Greatest Hits. In 2000, "Last Chance for Love" was honored as the Best Dance Song of the year by the Glama Awards, and she remained active throughout the next several years, with 12" releases on Junior Vasquez Music, Twisted, Curvve, and King Street Sounds. Cardwell is openly gay; she came out of the closet at the age of 21. ~ Linda Seida
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