By Brian M. Howle
The late, South Carolina-born Godfather of Soul, James Brown, cemented his legendary career on the wings of a couple of seminal tunes. Most are likely to think of the hit, “I Feel Good” – as well they should for its get-me-out-this-funk groove and happy happy, joy joy vibe. But for pure emotion, raw inner-exposure, confession and just a damn fine song, there is no finer example of lyrics that evoke and expose the soul than “It’s a Man’s World.”
Because after all, when some see a female solo performer, you hear a lot of this: “That little gal singin’ up on that stage, why, she’s right cute, now, ain’t she? Pretty little ol’ thing … sings nice enough, but now, she can’t play that ol’ geetar, or rock out, like a man.”
However, if you bring the discussion of women who actually succeed in music into the equation, then New Jersey’s Joan Burton would quietly yet effectively challenge that concept. Actually, “challenge” is the incorrect word … it’s more like, eviscerate that concept.
She’s the male singer/musician counterpart who dispels the chauvinist myths, the vulgar assumptions and the almost always, universally incorrect labels that inevitably accompany the lot.
Burton is stand-alone capable on guitar; commanding and smooth on keyboards, and second to no one as a vocalist. In short, a gal that same male singer/musician knows is not just his equivalent, but just as easily his superior.
Not that it would matter one stupid little bit to Burton, as she would simply laugh it off as unimportant.
Because this talented performer – and, oh-by-the-way, drop-dead gorgeous beauty with long, tasseled hair and deep blue -green eyes – possesses a vocal immersion that brings a progressively larger number of folks back to her venues each week, with measured, pragmatic certainty.
From the classic, timeless Etta James’ standard “At Last,” to Jefferson Airplane’s trip-launching “White Rabbit,” to Cream’s introspective “Sunshine of Your Love,” to Heart’s autobiographical “Crazy On You,” there’s no trying to pigeonhole Joan into one genre or style of music. She wants it all, and the best part is, she has it all.