The Jazz Sounds of Joan Watson-Jones


Joan Watson-Jones is a very expressive vocalist who burns quietly with inner intensity when she sings. She has a deep understanding of the words she interprets, she is not shy to be autobiographical in her singing, and has a natural sense of swing.

Joan’s parents both had fascinating careers. Her mother Aurelia Wheeldin was a dancer who spent 1924-26 performing at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Not only did she dance but she worked up an act with another dancer in which they regularly boxed three rounds on stage, causing a sensation. Back in the United States, she was a pioneering female boxer, performed in Eubie Blake’s Shufflin’ Along, and appeared at the Apollo Theatre in a production called Harlem before retiring in 1940 to marry Joan’s father.

Joan’s father was a physician who became one of the twelve doctors to co-found the Upper Manhattan Medical Group, the first clinic in Harlem that was run entirely by African-Americans. Among his patients through the years were Billie Holiday and Mercer Ellington. The hospital was immortalized by Billy Strayhorn when he wrote “U.M.M.G,” a piece recorded by Duke Ellington.

Joan Watson-Jones performs at Ryles Jazz Club on Thursday, Jun 29. Showtime is 8:30 PM. Tickets $10