Thursday, June 7, 2012
“My target audience isn’t devout or righteous Christians. It’s people who are living their lives and looking for inspiration and encouragement to follow the Holy Spirit. There are some people that feel that spirit and just aren’t sure what it’s all about."
TYLER East Texas is home for Joanna Endsley, and she has lived here most of her life. Her local family roots run deep; her parents were born and raised in Carthage and Gary.
Joanna has been singing all of her life. As a little girl, she would sit in the grocery cart while her mother was shopping and sing to people as they walked by. It is said that, even then, she was able to sing every country song that was playing on the radio.
Her family recognized her talent. They knew that it was probably raw due to her young age, but it was there nonetheless. Her mother began entering her daughter in various competitions at about the age of 8. According to Joanna, “Every chance she saw to get me up in front of people, she took it.” Joanna was a country girl, so she sang country songs because that was all she listened to and knew.
Time has a way of changing things and sometimes people as well. In 1999, Joanna met a young man who would later become her husband. He told her that he’d be more likely to come to her concerts if she would start singing rock music instead of country. She says that until she met her husband, “I’d never even heard of The Beatles or Janis Joplin or The Cars or Bob Seger.” While in graduate school in 2002, she began singing rock. She points out that her husband did start coming to more concerts just as he told her he would!
Joanna’s voice is her strength. While she can play both the piano and the guitar, she is quick to say, “I mostly just use instruments to write songs.” She admits that she enjoys playing an instrument live for one or two songs but then she is ready to just get back to singing. About playing an instrument while performing, she says, “I think it really distracts me from the overall performance I am used to doing.” While talking about her musical training, Joanna says that as a child, “My mom would take me for piano lessons, but I’d always just end up wanting to sing the songs instead.” Her mother realized this and Joanna adds, “So, she quit taking me and got me voice lessons instead.”
Joanna admits that she really didn’t start playing in bands until she was an adult but that she loves the camaraderie of a group performing together. “I was in a rock band for seven years and had the time of my life.” During that time, she and the band were fairly successful and toured nationally. “We played everywhere from Austin to New Orleans to Las Vegas.” They were doing very well with their music, but something just seemed to happen. They had recorded two albums with the second one getting some radio play, but Joanna says, “One day, there came a very distinguishable point in my life when it was no longer going to work for me hanging out in bars and clubs every weekend.”
Time does have a way of changing some people. Joanna had been playing with her band, Magdalene, for years. During that time, she and her husband had two children. To earn a steady source of income, they opened a physical therapy practice in Tyler. Changes come both good and bad, and during that same seven year period, Joanna had to deal with the emotional loss of her mother and the physical loss of her home due to fire. “I began to deal with some really grown-up issues in my life, and I felt like the Lord was leading me to go to work for Him.” Faith comes slow to some while quick to others, but faith will change a person’s perspective. “I was surprised and so were my band mates,” says Joanna. “I took a different road at that point in my life, and it’s been totally different ever since.”
Her musical style changed, and it was not well-received by her band. So, with two of her friends, Randy Morrison and Mike Harper, Joanna formed a new band. She says, “I didn’t have anything to be angry about anymore.” She describes their music as family friendly and hopefully inspirational.
Her latest album, Fallen Angel, Come, is available through the band’s website at www.joannasmusic.com or on iTunes. Joanna is very proud of this latest project. She says, “The album is really personal about being forgiven and relying on God for your needs. The songs are easy to relate to in that they address the struggles of growing your faith and the difficulties that go along with it.”
Life is good in the Endsley household. Married now for 15 years, Joanna and her husband have a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son. Although her other family members are not involved in the music business, she feels very blessed that they are all very supportive.
The band is currently booking concerts for the fall of 2012 at colleges, churches, festivals and youth camps in and around the East Texas area. Joanna says, “My target audience isn’t devout or righteous Christians. It’s people who are living their lives and looking for inspiration and encouragement to follow the Holy Spirit. There are some people that feel that spirit and just aren’t sure what it’s all about.” With obvious enthusiasm for her music ministry, she says, “Everyone can relate to the songs in some way.” Personally, it sounds like a great afternoon or evening of music to me!