It's been ten years since Joe hit the music scene with his debut album, Everything. Over the past decade, the singer, songwriter and producer has gained multiple Grammy nominations and has written and produced songs for artists such as Chico DeBarge, Barry White and Tina Turner, The BackStreet Boys and Mariah Carey, to name a few. And with his latest release And Then..., set for release December 16th, it doesn't appear that Joe plans on slowing down anytime soon.
The son of two preachers, music played an important role in Joe's life early on. As a musician and singer of his parents' church, the Georgia native's early musical influences include gospel greats such as The Winans, Commissioned and Vanessa Bell Armstrong (with whom he'd later also work with). He eventually discovered secular acts like Bobby Brown and Keith Sweat and after playing in local bands, set his sites on a career in music. After graduating high school, Joe bought a one-way ticket to New York to pursue his dream. His melodic and instrument-playing skills would serve him well it enabled him to produce his own three-song demo, which eventually lead to a label deal and the 1993 release of Everything.
Between 1997 and 2002, Joe would release three more albums. All That I Am (1997), his debut for Jive, and Better Days (2002) sold well, but it was 2000's My Name Is Joe that catapulted his career to new heights. The album debuted at number-two on the Billboard Top 200 and the singles "I Wanna Know" and the remix for "Stutter" featuring Mystikal both went to the top five on the singles chart (number-one and number-four, respectively).
Though the release of Better Days was met with decent sales, it didn't compare to My Name Is Joe. "It did fairly good numbers, but I came off of selling three million records with My Name Is Joe." Every artist knows the fickle side of the industry, but only a few can weather the storm. It's Joe's love for creating music that gets him through the downswings of the business. "I just stay in on course and continue to work. Music has to continue to inspire and . I can't stop. It's important to me to make my voice and my music heard and felt passionately."
After taking time to reflect on life's heavier issues, And Then... allows Joe to get back to the subject he knows best-love. His latest release is perhaps his most sensual and passionate yet. "I've always had a few songs that sort of went in that direction," he explains, "but this album just takes you there with no hesitation. I just really wanted to keep the album fun, not too serious." The title track is a play-by-play plan for his next sexual escapade set to a mellow groove. But Joe has many clever ways to talk about the same subject. The song "Priceless" pays homage to the perfect woman; "You Dropped Your Dime" is a cautionary tale what happens if you neglect your lady (Joe is happy to step in) and "Jeep" is an inviting tale of a day of shopping at the mall followed by a little back seat bump and grind. "It Ain't Like That" deals with unjust accusations of infidelity and "Another Used to Be" celebrates hopes for a new relationship.
The disc's lead single, "More and More," was written and produced by R. Kelly. With two incredibly talented musicians, the results are explosive. The record is incredible, its simple verses are powerful. It's a good record." Joe has incredible admiration for his labelmate. "Kelly's a beast. He continues to show how talented he is. That's inspiring." The project include producers Shakespeare and Carvin and Ivan (known for their work with Musiq). And Then... is dominated by lush, incredibly produced ballads and slow-tempo tracks, an element in which Joe feels most comfortable. "I like to sing ballads more than up-tempos. You kind of showcase yourself as an R&B singer a lot better. The words are out in front as opposed to the track being the most important part. With a ballad I can really display that." Still, tracks like "Street Dreams" and "Ride Wit U" featuring G-Unit offers the head-nodding club cuts every R&B album needs.
As long as Joe has been making music, the journey continues to be exciting for him. "Music has always been a part of my life. But it's growing. It's becoming more in tune with me as an artist and where I stand and what I'm trying to do. The understanding is becoming so clear, so that's the enjoyment in what I do." And with his latest project, Joe hopes music fans can hear that growth as well. "The album is for my fans and to give them quality music every time. That's my main goal."
With ten years in the business under his belt and still going strong. Joe is back.
--- from the official Joe website