The thump of steady beats and the feint echo of a lyrical voice was drowned out in the walls of the Marriott when a star was born.
Joanna Pearl, with the musical respect of her humble home in Temecula, was urged to demonstrate her vocal talent by friend Cyrene Jagger, who would one day become part of her music management team. Pearl let her lyrical soul fill the hallway, just as legendary bassist Andy Fraser and a group from the United Kingdom’s Headliner magazine rounded the corner. They stopped talking in stunned silence. The former bassist for the band “Free” put his arm around Pearl. “You’re so fired,” he said. That single moment would eventually spawn a MSET – a “mini summer euro tour” – and global recognition for Pearl, simply because of the association with a world-famous music star that coincidentally shared her hometown.
Fraser, most known for composing “All Right Now” as the bassist of Free, would soon go on to introduce Pearl to the crowd of his Grammy after-party as “the best singer I’ve ever heard.” So enthralled with Pearl’s singing was Fraser, he gave her free reign to perform his music any way she wanted and even had plans to sign her to a label. This performance together however, would be Fraser’s last when he died soon after at the age of 62.
“I remember the last thing Andy said to me was, he dropped me off at my house, and he just said thank you, for coming with him and all that,” she said, “and that was the last time I spoke to him and then he passed in March that year.”
The influence he has had on Pearl remains a source of motivation to her career as a singer. She remembers Fraser as a man that dressed simply despite his fame and encouraged her by complimenting her vocal talent. The fond connection they had with one another would result in global recognition, as the world looked to Pearl as Fraser’s prodigy. It did not take long for Jagger to find a new venue for Pearl: “Weyfest” in the United Kingdom.
Pearl saw the opportunity to travel and sing live as something too good to pass up. She quickly found herself on an airplane and a short time later navigating the streets of London by her lonesome. This situation inspired the theme for her next album: being an independent woman. Pearl more than proved her worth as both an individual and a singer on her journey, finding herself equally nervous to learn how to drive on the left side of the road as she was to get onstage at the European Weyfest to perform with Saiichi Sugiyama Band. They were a whole new cast of colorful characters that she had never met before.
“It was so invigorating on a creative level,” said Pearl of her trip. “I didn’t get to practice with the band… I only got two tiny rehearsals with the band, I’ve never met them before, and it’s something that I noticed with musicians, it’s just like ‘oh you do music?’ and you’re just automatically family.”
Though her trip was centered around Weyfest and her passion for music, she found herself exploring Europe and visiting friends and family and performing at a wedding for one of her closest friends, Denmark singing sensation Simone Egeriis. Visiting only the U.K., Germany and Denmark this time around, Pearl said she would like to go on longer tours in the future, as her music career continues to take off.
Pearl’s musical talent was initially recognized in Temecula when she received the Adult Contemporary of the Year Award from the Temecula Valley Music Awards. She now is on the board for the TVMA. She continues to work with the board to bring music to schools in the local area, combatting cuts to what she believes to be an important outlet for children.
She believes music is an exceptional way to give back to the community. In 2014, Pearl released an EP entitled “Sensitive Material.” She donated some of the EP’s profit to Michelle’s Place and Susan G. Komen after her grandmother died from breast cancer. Pearl continues to use her music not only for her exploration of her greatest passion, but also to help build a stronger community.
“Whatever I can do to help the community or however to give back with music,” she said. “It’s a big circle.”
Pearl believes feelings and emotions to be the most important elements to music. Declaring her style to be pop rock soul, Pearl draws on life itself to paint vivid, impassioned images from the gravity of her lyrics. She believes in writing and singing that makes you feel something, like the sincerity she found in Fraser’s character.
“It always has to come from the heart,” she said.