Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Joi Cardwell

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Joi Cardwell

Article excerpt

There are so many divas these days that the term has lost its meaning. A diva cannot be manufactured: No amount of wigs and screams can compensate for a timid, untrained voice or shallow renderings of cornball material. Sure, a diva must have attitude (another overused word), but, more important, she must possess a spiritual presence that can lead listeners into the realm of something larger than her boudoir or even her walk-in wardrobe.

Joi Cardwell doesn't have the biggest, most belting voice. Hers is more subtle, more ethereal and seductive. She doesn't have big-label bucks behind her: She's too creative to be compromised in the ways that the music biz demands of its mainstream dance acts. Neither glamour queen nor earth mama, Cardwell focuses on her music, which she writes and often produces herself. Like her peers Kristine W and Billie Ray Martin, this upstart who got her start singing with house-music innovator Lil Louis ("Club Lonely," "Saved My Life") possesses the kind of depth that demands control over her art.

Along with her other distinctions, Cardwell is an anomaly to dance music in another way: She's a lesbian. And although sapphic sisters aren't unknown to club music (hi-NRG songbird Hazell Dean comes to mind), dance divas and queerness usually come together only in the time-tested tradition of straight women singers mouthing the sentiments and sexual desires of gay songwriter-producers Cardwell instead brings to the dance floor qualities associated with gals and their guitars--introspection, integrity, and authenticity. …

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