Songcraft: Conversations with Great Songwriters Podcast

Joshie Armstead


Ep. 77 - Joshie Jo Armstead

Let's Go Get Stoned: A Female R&B Pioneer

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Paul and Scott catch up with Joshie to get the story on how she ended up singing with Bobby "Blue" Bland as a teenager; how she learned to write songs on-the-job with Ike and Tina Turner; why she's used several different names throughout her career; how she joined forces with Ashford and Simpson to create a songwriting team that allowed each of them to experience their earliest success together; the challenges she faced as one of the only female record producers and label owners in the '70s; and what it was like to sing back up for icons such as Bob Dylan and Diana Ross.

Mississippi native Joshie Jo Armstead began her professional career as a vocalist, touring and recording as one of the original Ikettes behind Ike and Tina Turner. She later settled in New York City where she began working with the legendary duo of Ashford and Simpson, who first found major success as the songwriting trio of Ashford, Simpson and Armstead when Ray Charles’ recording of “Let’s Go Get Stoned” became a #1 hit. Soon after, Charles recorded their “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and Aretha Franklin hit the R&B Top 40 with “Cry Like a Baby.”

After Ashford and Simpson went to Motown, Armstead relocated to Chicago where she launched Giant Productions and established herself as one of only a handful of female record label owners and producers in that era. There she scored Top 10 R&B hits with Syl Johnson’s “Come On Sock it to Me,” Ruby Andrews’ “Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over),” Garland Green’s “Jealous Kind of Fella,” and Carl Carlton’s “Drop By My Place” while also releasing her own records as an artist for Giant Records and later Stax Records.

As a vocalist she has worked and recorded with Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, BB King, Quincy Jones and Burt Bacharach. As a writer she placed 16 songs on the R&B and pop charts.  Her compositions have been recorded by a long list of artists, including James Brown, The Coasters, The Shirelles, Joe Cocker, Styx, Humble Pie, Joan Osborne, Ronnie Milsap, John Mayer, and others.  

       

Songcraft's Joshie Armstead Playlist: Spotify users can select the song you'd like to hear below, or simply start the player and enjoy a selection of Joshie's great songs. If you don't have a Spotify account, follow the prompts to sign up for free. Click this link to take you directly to the playlist in the Spotify web player.