Five Questions with Joan Myers
Gospel singer and songwriter Joan Myers is a woman with a passion for music. A dynamic performer, Myers has toured the Caribbean, Canada, the British Virgin Islands, and the United States as a backup and lead vocalist with celebrated gospel group Grace Thrillers, with whom she recorded two albums, Can’t even Walk and Make us One. Myers, who now resides in the United States, has also enjoyed international success as a solo artiste, and in 2000 recorded her solo album, Wanna Be Ur’s, at Freddie McGregor’s Big Ship Studio in St Andrew.
However, it has been a while since Myers – who pursued a degree in accounting at the City University of New York – has released a new album, although her presence is still very much felt in music circles with live performances, and also online since the COVID-19 pandemic. She told The Gleaner that the time is now and that she is ready to go back in the studio alongside her musical sibling, Benjy Myaz, who is also her producer.
Myers recently worked on a project to encourage persons of Caribbean heritage to register in the upcoming United States census. Born in Jamaica to Reverend and Mrs Myers, her musical development began at a place called Haddington in the hills of Hanover. Joan remains a proud Hanoverian and believes that God has called her as a strong woman to make Him famous among the feeble.
1. Why was it important to you to get involved in this census project?
The 2020 census is a very historic initiative in America because, for the first time, Caribbean immigrants and those of Caribbean ancestry are able to accurately self-identify on census forms not just as a race but of a specific ethnicity.
2. What was the creative/recording process like?
When I was asked initially by the executive producer of the 2020 census initiative, Gerry Hopkin, to be a part of this project, I was somewhat hesitant. I reached out to my brother Benjy Myaz – producer, singer, arranger of My Werks Music – with some lyrics that I wrote and told him that I wanted him to produce the music. He reviewed the lyrics and sent me the track. I had to rewrite some of the initial lyrics for it to flow, bearing in mind the overall picture of what census is all about. I then reached out to the executive producer and again, we altered the lyrics. It was exciting to just watch it all come together with me and my brother in different spaces, as well as Gerry.
3. Have you done other projects with your sibling?
I recorded a project with my brother a few years ago, and that includes an original piece written by him. It is a beautiful project overall.
4. What are the other works in the pipeline for you?
I recently had a conversation with my brother about going back in the studio. Yes! It is time. I am often asked, ‘when will you be doing some recording?’ and the response is “in the right time”. My brother and I lost both of our parents recently, and for me, taking time to care for them in the ailing phases of their lives was my priority. I did that and I am now ready for my new and passionate life.
5. How has COVID impacted you, and what lessons have been learnt?
The new normal of living through COVID-19 as a singer has afforded me to be more creative with my musical skills. The fact that events are currently not held where you can physically gather now calls for singers/musicians to find ways in which they can remain present and current within the industry. I do play the rhythm guitar and I am now able to go back to that craft and spend time redeveloping that skill. I also saw the opportunity in doing the 2020 Census PSA Jingle as a way of my being present and alive. Being prepared at all times is a lesson COVID has taught me in terms of my ability to use technology to its fullest by reaching people virtually networking/collaboration matters, and it works. I am therefore responding to this challenge with a kind of ingenuity from a creative mindset.