Home » Jazz Articles » Take Five with Joanna Pearl of SoulCal

Take Five With...

Take Five with Joanna Pearl of SoulCal


Sign in to view read count

Meet Joanna Pearl of SoulCal

With influences ranging from Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, Tower of Power, Prince, Marvin Gaye, Chaka Khan and Donna Summer to Bruno Mars, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Teena Marie, Jill Scott and Whitney Houston, SoulCal is a 10-piece Soul/R&B/Funk show band. The San Diego-based ensemble, is the brainchild of Vas Panos and Craig Harris; two respected and accomplished musicians in the music community. They have hand-selected elite performers from all over Southern California, enlisting international award-winning singer/songwriter and recording artist, Joanna Pearl as front woman. SoulCal specializes in private gatherings, social events, weddings, corporate festivities, fundraisers and other formal functions.


bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals, trumpet, trombone, and saxophone.

Teachers and/or influences?

Cutting my teeth on Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin truly gave me the blueprint to step in as lead singer and front person for a band like SoulCal.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

When the music found me. I was 11 years old in sixth grade and we were required to choose a music class. I was too shy to choose so I was put in Mrs. Myre's choir class. We were given lyrics to learn The Judds' song, "Love Can Build A Bridge" and in that exact moment I knew... . This makes me happy, this is what I want to do.

Your sound and approach to music.

My approach to music is based on my personal Holy Trinity. Which is: the song, the melody, and the vocal. This also informs my sound. This sound can change to suit the message that the particular song wants to convey. It can be as intimate as a whisper, or as powerful as a storm.

Your teaching approach

I don't teach vocals, but I do teach songwriting, and my approach is completely practical, because that's how I was taught. It is done by doing. Trial and error, creating a strong message as well as a hook, and painting a vivid landscape or story through lyrics.

Your dream band

Would be Frank Sinatra Big Band meets Silk Sonic!

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

I absolutely love my Christmas song "A Little Bit Of Heaven." I love the message and the season, it's my heart.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I think my contribution will ultimately be that of a dynamic performance artist who creates her own repertoire as well as advancing a brand that represents the strength and authenticity of women.

The first jazz album I bought was:

Harry Connick, Jr. Blue Light, Red Light

Music you are listening to now:

Lizzzzoooo! And Bruno! And ADELE... Naturally.

Desert Island picks:

Mariah Carey Butterfly; Dolly Parton Eagle When She Flies; Beyoncé B'Day; Shania Twain Come On Over; Aretha Franklin The Very Best Of Aretha Franklin—The '60s.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

It's less rigid and traditional than ever. Jon Batiste is a perfect example of someone who plays the most authentic jazz, and then releases an incredibly catchy pop hit. So great!

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

The continued cross-pollination with other genres, evolving the form in the process.

What is in the near future?

Lots of music in form of gigs, recordings, and live media!

What is your greatest fear when you perform?

Forgetting the lyrics! Yikes!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!"

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?

Whistling... . I'm gonna be geek out right now, hands down & lips perked, the theme song to The Andy Griffith Show ("The Fishin' Hole" by Earle Hagen). Favorite song to sing in the shower is whatever I'm currently working on... there is something about the sound of water that makes me want to write.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

If I wasn't a singer, I would be a private investigator.

If I could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Queen Elizabeth II... because if you have dinner with her, you have dinner with everyone!

To pair with our series' Jazz Uncorked/Jazz & Juice, what's your favorite wine, bourbon or adult beverage?

Sparkling wine... good anytime of year.

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment



Jazz article: Take Five with Bob Holz
Take Five With...
Take Five with Bob Holz
Jazz article: Take Five with Yulia
Take Five With...
Take Five with Yulia
Jazz article: Take Five with Eugenie Jones
Take Five With...
Take Five with Eugenie Jones
Jazz article: Take Five With Brian Eaton
Take Five With...
Take Five With Brian Eaton


Read Giving Thanks & Sharing the Jazz Love
Read Your Favorite Living Jazz Pianists
Read Your Favorite Living Jazz Drummers

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.