Hard to Love blues singer, emotional powerhouse

Joyann Parker

My first impression of Joyann Parker, after listening to her sophomore album, Hard To Love, was this lady has to be from the south.

Wrong. Joyann is a classically trained pianist with a degree in music from the University of Wisconsin. Her southern influence probably started with the fact that the Mississippi River ran beside Minneapolis, a town she lived in for 17 years. And some of the other towns beside the Big Muddy include Memphis, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

“After I went to the Stax Museum in Memphis, it was like somebody lit a fire under me,” Joyann said. “I thought ‘I love this music. I want to write it.’ I went home and wrote the songs. When I give myself time to be creative and I’m inspired, too, music just comes out of me.”

All of the songs on Hard To Love were co-written by Joyann and Mark Lamoine. Mark also supplies the killer guitar and background vocals on the CD.

All of their songs have an earthy quality, adding to the emotional honesty.

“They’re not all about me by any means. I believe part of being a songwriter is taking your story and weaving it with other people’s stories. Together, they make a good story. And I don’t write ‘Oh, baby, oh, baby’ lyrics. I can’t do that. I write songs that somebody, somewhere may hear and then say, ‘Oh. How does she know me?’ People always come see me after a show. I love that. When a song I wrote affects people’s lives, that’s great for the songwriter in me,” she said.

My personal favorites are “What Happened To Me,” a Chuck Berry-like romp; the torch burner “Hard To Love” and the masterful “Memphis” which opens the album.

“We did it all in the same room — most of it is all of us doing it at the same time. We wanted the energy of the group. We wanted to capture the energy from each other. It was like, “Let’s just play.” There wasn’t a ton of overdubbing. It was really organic — which I really wanted.”

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