When professional adventurer Charlie Walker told Joanna she was a "true jack-of-all-trades" she took it as the utmost compliment. As a musician, painter, and adventurer, British-Australian Joanna Wallfisch has made a pledge to herself to combine all of her passions into one life, career and vocation. So far, it seems, so good.
Of her original music, she has been critically acclaimed by Downbeat Magazine as "an exquisite singer-songwriter," and World Music Report states that "this is quintessential heart-music by a vocalist who seems to have connected with the deepest recesses of her being emerging into brightness again with songs of haunting beauty." Indeed, her songs convey a beauty of a many-coloured sort that speaks to straight to the human condition, revealing personal truths about love, loss, adventure, home and hope.
Born in London into a family of classical musicians, Joanna studied fine art at Central Saint Martins. During her undergraduate studies, she spent three months in Paris where she busked with a jazz band on the bridges of the Seine - which led her to decide to pursue music full time. Following her heart, she moved to New York City in 2012 to pursue a career as a jazz vocalist. This opened fantastic opportunities including touring with The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, performing at jazz clubs like Smalls and Le Poisson Rouge, and collaborating with some of the world's best musicians including Dan Tepher and Jesse Elder (of Postmodern Jukebox).
Her music career has taken her around the globe, to international festivals including The Woodford Folk Festival, Australia, The Salisbury Arts Festival, UK, and the Lima Jazz Festival, Peru. She has released five critically acclaimed albums, including two on the Sunnyside label. Her latest album, "Far Away From Any Place Called Home," was self-released in 2019.
Yet, in 2016 Joanna met a stumbling block. The more she toured and hustled for the next gig, the more conflicted she felt about her negative impact on the environment by flying so often. So, she came up with the idea of doing a zero-emissions concert tour by bicycle, which she called The Great Song Cycle. Her first tour would be Portland to Los Angeles. This turned out to be a life changing decision, which led her to rethink her entire outlook on her career and life. In 2019 she released a new album, and published her first adventure memoir, entitled "The Great Song Cycle, Portland to LA on Two Wheels and a Song" (UWA Press), then toured the project in Australia, 2000 miles, by bicycle of course!
Joanna is also a passionate educator and takes her songwriting and teaching skills to outreach programs, schools and colleges. In 2016 she travelled to Mumbai to volunteer with charity organisation Songbound, an outreach initiative that brings the transformative power of music to some of India’s poorest and most marginalised children. She has also worked in Los Angeles with non-profit organisation Urban Voices Project, bringing music education and choir to the Skid Row Community. Joanna helped pilot an early childhood program named Family Sing, aimed at the children and parents who are experiencing homelessness. Of this work Joanna says, “bringing music to people in need keeps me grounded and inspires everything I do. It reminds me how powerful music is beyond the concert stage. Music saves lives. It saved my grandmother’s life, and I am compelled to bring my musical skills into a situation that can truly heal and inspire those who need it most, and to help them find a way through their darkest times through singing.”