Her father is South African. Her mother is German. She lives in Berlin. Her new album, Let Yourself Be Loved, is out on Motown.
Joy Maureen Denalane (11 June 1973) is often described as a soul singer. I like her sound. Have dug her music since her first release, most of which was in German, but you quickly forgot about the language barrier as she poured her soul into the tracks of Mamani (2002). Most times, she’s presented doing contemporary rhythm&blues, at other times, like on Gleisdreieck (2017), the emphasis is on her German identity.
She has a new 2020 release: Let Yourself Be Loved. And it sort of just happened. One minute she’s laying down tracks in Germany and the next minute a producer takes the music to America. And then up pops a Motown deal. Well, it actually took more than a minute to record in Germany with musicians there, while simultaneously offering an album that is representative of her international approach to music.
What I like most about Joy’s singing is that she explores the various aspects of her identity. She has recorded with Hugh Masekela and other South African artists. On a different continent, she imbedded herself in the USA to luxuriate in the authentic Philly International soul sound. She has charted singles in collaboration with rap artists Common and Lupe Fiasco. But most of all she keeps stretching and exploring, this way and that, as she is guided by her own inner spirit which is literally multi-national and multi-cultural.
Here is a lengthy interview in which Joy reveals details of her background. Life wasn’t easy for her struggling to stay the course for over twenty years.
Here also is a sit-down session in which she speaks in German and sings in English. She delivers over thirty minutes live to pre-recorded musical tracks that cover various aspects of her decades long career. Additionally, towards the end, her long-time partner Max Herre makes an appearance before they collectively bring the session to a close.
She sounds neither jaded nor dis-interested, indeed, despite her age and lengthy career, Joy sounds like a teenager just breaking into the business. A track from her new album features a duet with Texas vocalist C. S. Armstrong.
Germany is not the first place we think of when looking for soul music, but check out Joy Denalane. She more than lives up to her name. And what a joy she is.