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Martyn Joseph

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Biography

Singer and songwriter Martyn Joseph writes passionate, articulate songs that speak from the heart, the soul, and the conscience, and he's earned an international reputation as both a performer and a tunesmith. Joseph was born in Penarth, Wales on July 15, 1960. As a youngster, his first passion wasn't music but golf: he began playing when he was 10, and by the time he was 15, he was good enough to play with a handicap and went on to win a handful of amateur tournaments. But in his late teens, Joseph was bitten by the music bug, and he soon started performing and writing his own tunes. In 1983, he recorded the first of several self-distributed albums, and as his following grew, his 1989 release An Aching and a Longing sold close to 30,000 copies, nearly all of them from the merchandise table at his shows. Myrrh Records eventually picked up the album for retail distribution, and the song "Dolphins Make Me Cry" began garnering airplay. The Sony-distributed Epic label was impressed with Joseph's growing fan following and signed him to a recording contract; 1992's Being There was his first release for Epic, and included "Dolphins Make Me Cry" as well as "Please Sir" and "Working Mother," all of which were charting singles in the U.K. However, after 1995's Martyn Joseph, the label and the artist reached an impasse, and Joseph recorded his next two albums, 1996's Full Colour Black and White and 1998's Tangled Souls, for the respected U.K. independent label Grapevine Records. In 1999, the fiercely independent Joseph decided to take control of his recording career and founded his own label, Pipe, which allowed him to record and release material as he pleased. His first album for the new concern arrived in 1999, Far from Silent, and he subsequently released a steady stream of music through Pipe, among them periodic studio efforts as well as plenty of live albums documenting his concert appearances (including a series of official bootleg releases), as his busy schedule found him performing regularly in the U.K., Europe, the United States, and Canada. On tour, Joseph has shared stages with a wide range of artists, from Joan Armatrading and Suzanne Vega to Celine Dion and Shirley Bassey, and collaborated with Tom Robinson and Steve Knightley on the 2004 release Faith, Folk and Anarchy. Also in 2004, Joseph was named Best Male Artist at the BBC Welsh Music Awards, and he took home the trophy for best folk song ("There's Always Maybe") at the 2012 World Independent Music Awards. A longtime fan of Bruce Springsteen, Joseph released Tires Rushing by in the Rain in 2013, on which he performed his own interpretations of 17 songs from Springsteen's catalog. Sanctuary arrived in 2015. Joseph is also an activist whose work for human rights and economic justice groups have earned him citations from Amnesty International, and he's also one of the founders of the Let Yourself Trust, intended to help fund and promote charities and human rights campaigns around the world. ~ Mark Deming

Born:

15 July 1960 in Penarth, Wales

Genre
Years Active:

'80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Contemporaries