ANGELA JOSEPHINE began her career in 2002 after appearing at a Border’s open mic in Northern. MI. She asked if she could use an original painting as part of her performance and was told, “As long as there are no naked people in it.” She went on to sing, “I got up in the dark of the night, I went out in the rain wearing nothing but your sweat…”
Well… they never said anything about naked lyrics.
Angela’s words have a way of undressing the superficial; stripping us down to raw experience. Tony Cummings of Cross Rhythms Magazine UK says, “Angela Josephine shows herself to be a poetic songwriter able to pen songs that get under the shield of the post-modern muse with power and poignancy.” More recently she has been compared to “a modern, female Nick Drake” (David Faulkner, CRD), while Northern Express Reviewer Kristi Kates cites “a more jaded Sarah McLachlan”.
Her self-produced debut album, A Restful Sense of Urgency (2002) was recorded during the waning months of summer in a barn studio in Northern, Michigan. The intimate, unassuming work drew an eclectic audience with independent reviewer Sonia Vannest asking listeners to “please pause a moment to hear some of the most creative musical expressions deviating from the norm.”
For her sophomore album Grace Exhaled (2005), Angela teamed with producer John Pisciotta of Paradiso Music to record at the Sound Kitchen in Franklin, TN. Her most provocatively and unapologetically spiritual, the album was a finalist in the 2006 Detroit Music Awards in best Christian/Gospel genre and delves into themes of struggle, grace and redemption. ‘Give Her Back Her Life’ is a dark-honed exploration of Psalm 142:3-7 with its stark imagery…” And now she hears an angel calling / With wings that whisper of being free / She’s alone, she’s forsaken / In the hell of her own making”. Angela does a haunting rendition of the Joni Mitchell classic ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ and a “deceptively simple paean of praise ‘Glory Lord!’ with a mountain dulcimer arrangement sounding like it was plucked straight from the Folkways Records archives.” Continuing with the unconventional, the album employs paint bucket percussion, the melodica and Wurlitzer. Angela demonstrates her versatility playing both mountain and hammered dulcimer and piano, and explores her spirituality through spoken word. Other contributors include Wade Jayne (bass guitar – Phil Keaggy), Shane Martin (acoustic guitar – Rebecca St. James), Jamba Castro (keys – Jaci Velasquez) and Chris Omartian (percussion – Out of Eden).
Lyrically rich and composed with a sparse, yet lush sensibility, Stone Bright Solid – Volume 1 (2012) marked a new direction for Angela as a refined folk artist. Her crooning brings to mind artists like Damien Rice and Glen Hansard, while her evocative whispers, together with sultry trumpet and wistful strings, give the album a feminine wisdom and charm. “Got You On My Mind” is instantly appealing, as the album’s catchy, summery anthem. “Ordinary Ways” is hushed, intimate and bittersweet. The title track, “Stone Bright Solid,” is enigmatic and haunting, while “Come To Me” both undulates and soars, a beseeching wave that closes the album on a hopeful note. Angela plays guitar, mandolin and piano on this album and is backed by some great Michigan talent; Serge van der Voo on double bass (Orpheum Bell), Ross Huff on trumpet and Griffin Bastian on drums (The Macpodz), Davey Jones on banjo (Frontier Ruckus), Michelle Brosius on violin (Sacred Strays), and Micah Ling on cello. Producer Chris Bathgate also lends his talent with electric guitar, classical guitar and percussion. Further defining Angela as an innovator is the packaging. “This four-track EP is the most original I have seen since the days of Delirious releases such as ‘Live And In The Can’ and ‘Kingdom Of Comfort’. It comes in a tin box with five alternative magnetic photos and a choice of 160 magnetic words (lyrics to the songs). In true postmodern style, this CD can be what you want it to be – not so much reader-response as listener-response.” – David Faulkner, CRD
Angela has graced the stage of countless festivals and venues. Her soulful voice combined with art, poetry and diverse instrumentation (guitar, mandolin, piano, hammered and mountain dulcimer) paints an intimate self-portrait, all at once relatable. Even before social media, Angela was pulling people together. It started when early festival audiences gathered around to sing “Glory Lord!” as she handed out roses following her set. That kind of spontaneous action is just one hallmark of her performances. Concert goers might be invited on stage for a light-hearted, jam session with toy guitar and bike horn. Mid-concert could have you approaching the front of house where daisies are offered and received like holy communion. Crowd sourced harmonies. Community canvases. Analog networking in a digital world.
In 2007, Angela was an Artist Ovation Contest Winner for Unity Festival in Muskegon, MI and her song “Spirit of Motherhood” received an honorable mention in the Great Lakes Songwriting Competition. In 2011 she again was a finalist for the Detroit Music Awards in the category of Best Instrumentalist for hammered dulcimer. She has also participated in ArtPrize, performing for “Jukebox” (2011) and “The Looking Box” (2012) by artists Royce Deans (Traverse City) and Tali Farchi (Amsterdam) who interpret music with paint. Angela’s paintings were recently featured in Grand Traverse Art Bomb 2013 and in the juried exhibit Women: Reflect, Rejoice, Reform at the Jordan River Art Council. Along with music and art, Angela is a published author having had poetry and articles accepted to various publications. One of those articles, “My Cup of Tea” published in The Banner Magazine, explores coming to terms difficult times and finding redemption in the struggle. As an ambassador for Compassion International (2002-2011), Angela represented the plight of children in third world countries at her concerts. In 2005 she traveled to Peru with the organization to meet her own sponsored child and worked building classrooms and leading worship in the schools. She has spearheaded numerous benefit events, including Hope for Haiti and was the public relations representative for the State Theater Colorbook Project.
Angela continues to support numerous causes, both locally and globally, and her faith is constantly being honed by a carpenter from Galilee. Her studio is located in beautiful Northern Michigan where she lives with her husband Joe. He often joins her for performances and specializes in cajon, chimes, wine glasses and all manner of the unexpected.