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					JoAnna Janet Biography

"I think all of us want to be understood," reckons singer-songwriter JoAnna Janét (pronounced Juh-NAY). "As much as we try to disguise ourselves, we want people to see who we really are. So, for me, songwriting is my way of revealing myself to people." Destination Love (released Aug. 20, 2002, on DreamWorks Records), JoAnna’ debut album, is thus a major step toward uncovering who she is. s "I love to communicate through music," she continues. "I don’ know if I’ any good at songwriting — all t m I know is that it makes me feel better to express my emotions in a song. There is so much I want to say." Some of those things are hard to say. JoAnna grew up in what looked like a perfect home; her mom was a nurse and her dad a stockbroker. They lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood — mom, dad and three pretty little girls all in a row. "I was the oldest," JoAnna explains, "and I guess I had to grow up pretty fast. When there was trouble at home, I felt like I had to be the protector for my mom and sisters." JoAnna found solace in music. "To make my mom happy, I used to say I wanted to be a nurse or a teacher," she reports. "But music was always inside me. I knew I wanted to be a singer, no matter what." She started on that path by belting out "On The Wings Of A Dove" at church when she was just three years old, then moved on to Dolly Parton material in grade school. "In our house, we had every kind of music, from Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand to Patsy Cline, Dolly and Reba," she remembers. "At my grandparents’ house, they always listened to big band, so I fell in love with Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman." By the time she was in high school, JoAnna had put together a group that performed around her native Baton Rouge, La. She also started writing songs. "I love writing and was completely intrigued by it," she says. "I love singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Shawn Colvin and listened to everything I could." After graduation, JoAnna set her sights on Nashville’ Belmont University (where the list of famous s alumnae includes Trisha Yearwood and Lee Ann Womack). "Belmont was very competitive, so it pushed me to a new level," she relates. "I started performing all the time." She sang at lots of school events and competitions and eventually won a coveted honor: the chance to perform onstage with Vince Gill during his annual fundraiser for the university. "I was and still am a huge fan of Vince Gill," says JoAnna. "I was so nervous that I was sick to my stomach — I couldn’ even see straight. I remember looking out at all t these other country singers in the audience and I couldn’ believe it was happening." t Upon finishing her studies at Belmont, JoAnna started singing on song demos for other songwriters. It wasn’ long before her voice began attracting attention from industry execs, including DreamWorks t Records Nashville head James Stroud. Stroud was intrigued by her voice and invited JoAnna to showcase for him and his staff. "DreamWorks called me out of the blue," she recalls. "I was on vacation in Florida, and they asked me to come in and sing for a breakfast meeting the morning of the Country Music Awards. I caught a late flight and then got up at 6 a.m. to meet the players who were going to back me up, none of whom I’ ever met. d When I got to the breakfast, I realized the entire promotion, marketing and A&R staff was there. It was 9 a.m. and I started off with a huge power ballad. Of course, I had gotten very little sleep the night before and my voice cracked. Then I completely forgot the second verse of the next song. As I started my third song, I realized I’ forgotten my guitar strap, so I had to hike my leg up on a chair. I was so embarrassed — I d thought it was a total disaster. I left and got on a plane back to Florida thinking, "They aren’ even gonna t call and tell me how bad I was!" They did call, however — to tell her how good she was. Still somewhat incredulous, she recollects: "James Stroud invited me into his office and said, ‘ m not going to beat around the bush — we loved you. It was a I’ unanimous vote, and we’ never had a unanimous decision before.’I was floored. I’ expected him say, ve d

‘ Thanks for doing the showcase, but we’ not really interested.’Instead, he offered me a deal on the spot. re He said that what won them over was the way I handled myself when everything went wrong." Stroud confirms: "The entire staff was blown away by JoAnna’ talent and personality. It’ rare to find an s s artist with the whole package: the talent, the look, the charm. After just 15 minutes, we had to have her." Stroud suggested she team with producer Paul Worley, known for his work with Martina McBride and The Dixie Chicks. Says JoAnna: "I’ a huge Martina fan, so I was very excited about the idea of working with m Paul, but I was also a little hesitant because I didn’ know what to expect. Once Paul and I met, though, I t saw that we both wanted to go in the same direction. He understood that I wanted to do something a little outside the norm, but at the same time keep it simple — acoustic and clean. I love the sounds he came up with." Comments Worley: "The first time I heard JoAnna sing, I totally flipped out. But when she started playing me her own songs, I realized she’ a great writer, too; I really fell in love with her songwriting. We spent a s long time making this record, and JoAnna just seemed to blossom during the creative process. She’ really s become a winner in every sense." This transitional period in her life is suggested by "Since I’ Seen You Last," the first radio track off ve Destination Love. "It really describes where I am in my life, in that in-between stage, thinking about the past and thinking about the future," she says. "I believe a lot of people can relate to that." As for the present, she volunteers: "I’ very proud of this record. I think the songs tell a lot about my life, the hurts m and the happiness. It’ real and honest." s In some ways, the disc is testimony to the strength and power of a determined woman, one who learned about such character-building qualities close to home. "My mom is a great example of overcoming obstacles," JoAnna points out. "When she was five, a truck fell on her legs, and they were going to have to amputate. They said she’ never walk again. But my grandparents refused to accept the diagnosis, so the d doctors performed skin grafts and my mother wore braces on her legs all through high school. And that didn’ stop her from playing tennis and becoming a runner. Some may have seen her as a victim, but to me t she was always a champion." "In my own life, I’ had to fight my way through a lot of different situations," JoAnna confides. "So I ve want to show people that they can, too. Pain is real, but you can get past it. What helps me do that is music; the best way for me to deal with things that are hard emotionally is to sing my feelings in a song. I’ so m fortunate to be able to do what I love and that it’ a healing thing for me, and I hope for everybody else." s


				
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