JOAN WATSON-JONES is a singer, lyricist, multi-instrumentalist, and host and producer of The Jazz Room, an online radio program where she plays music and interviews some of the top names in jazz. On CHOICES, her fourth album, she presents a program of her original songs with music and lyrics penned by Watson-Jones, plus two standards.
Watson-Jones lives in New Hampshire but spends a lot of time at her family home in Harlem in New York City, where she was raised. Her father was a physician who had his office in the downstairs part of the house. “My father lived and worked in Harlem, because he was dedicated to living in the neighborhood where people needed him,” says Watson-Jones. He was on the team of physicians who saved Martin Luther King’s life when he was stabbed while signing books in 1958 in a Harlem department store, and he helped start the Upper Manhattan Medical Group.
For Watson-Jones, entertaining is in her DNA. Her mother was a dancer who performed at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. She also worked up a popular act with another dancer in which they regularly boxed three rounds on stage. When she came back to the United States, she became a pioneering female boxer and continued to perform before retiring to marry Watson-Jones’ father.
Watson-Jones has been playing music since she was four years old, when she began taking piano and tap dance lessons from her mother’s former manager. Watson-Jones credits her years of tap dancing with developing her impeccable sense of rhythm. Throughout the years, she continued her study of piano and also learned to play guitar and drums. Although her father supported her musical studies, he was also a very practical person and encouraged her to pursue an academic path. She received a master’s degree in Music Education and had a long career as a teacher, first in the Bronx and then in New Hampshire, where she eventually settled. With encouragement from her husband, she decided to follow her passion and retired from teaching to build a full-time career as a performer and writer.