Rarely does a singer come along in whom virtuosity meets sensitivity. Jo Lawry at once tests the limits of technical facility and explores the furthest reaches of musical expression. Her music, steeped in the jazz tradition without being constrained by its traditional forms and functions, demonstrates a unique combination of maturity and inventiveness.
Jo Lawry’s debut album I Want to Be Happy was released in 2008 to rave reviews and named among the “Best CDs of the Decade” in Downbeat Magazine. In addition to working with her own quintet, Jo is the vocalist for the Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra, a quartet whose album, Live at Jazz Standard was recently released on Sunnyside Records. Jo is also a member of the Irish/Brazilian/Jazz quartet, James Shipp’s Nós Novo, providing lead vocals, fiddle, mandolin and melodica. This group recently released their debut CD Strange Sweethearts in America, which the New York Times called "a striking new album... which advances a jazz-based take on traditional Celtic music." Jo has been featured as a guest on numerous recordings; stand-outs include Dr. Lonnie Smith’s album Rise Up! and Kate McGarry’s Grammy-nominated If Less is More… Nothing is Everything.
Jo is also quickly becoming known to audiences beyond the jazz genre, through her work with Sting. She first joined Sting in 2009 as a backing vocalist for the filming of his live concert DVD A Winter’s Night… Live From Durham Cathedral. Following this project, she appeared with him for several other concerts and TV appearances on vocals and violin. In 2010, Jo was invited to join him as sole backing vocalist on his international orchestral tour, Symphonicities, followed soon after by the 2011/2012 Back to Bass tour, on which she also plays violin. Since she began touring with Sting, Jo has also featured prominently on a number of Sting’s albums, including the 2011 Grammy-nominated box set.
Jo grew up on an almond farm in South Australia and, after a brief affair with operatic study, began her instruction in the Jazz Department at Adelaide University’s Elder Conservatorium. Jo has received many honors including the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship for study in the United States to complete her Masters degree in Jazz Performance (2003). She was a semifinalist in the 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, and she won second place inAustralia’s National Jazz Awards in 2005. In 2006 Jo commenced her studies at New England Conservatory for a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance. Upon graduation, she will be the first vocalist to be awarded this degree from NEC.
In 2008 she was selected by Carnegie Hall to participate in a week-long collaboration with emerging vocalists from all over the world, led by Bobby McFerrin. Her relationship with Carnegie Hall continues as she is now a featured artist in their Musical Connections program. Jo is also Artist-in-Residence at the United States Embassy of Australia.
Jo currently lives in New York, where she leads her own band, with whom she plays her own songs, along with the odd cover and jazz standard. She appears regularly at NYC clubs from Birdland to Joe’s Pub, and her shows are a recurring “Critic’s Pick” for Time Out New York, which recently stated "Australian vocalist Jo Lawry numbers among our favorite discoveries of the past year."