Proof Of Life Joy Oladokun

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  • 1Keeping The Light On03:43
  • 2Changes03:09
  • 3Taking Things For Granted03:36
  • 4Somebody Like Me03:56
  • 5Friends03:21
  • 6You At The Table03:50
  • 7Sweet Symphony03:48
  • 8Trying03:55
  • 9Pride03:22
  • 10Revolution04:04
  • 11The Hard Way04:00
  • 12We’re All Gonna Die02:59
  • 13Somehow03:54
  • Total Runtime47:37

Info zu Proof Of Life

Her third original full-length album vividly captures the human experience with a profound simplicity; celebrating the little details & simple pleasures of being alive, while giving voice to some of life’s most complex experiences in a way only she can. The album boasts feats from Chris Stapleton, Noah Kahan, Mt. Joy & more.

We collect mementos as reminders of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. We scrapbook our journeys in photo albums on dusty shelves or in the infinite cloud camera rolls on our phones. Joy Oladokun documents her life in songs. For as much as she examines her place in the world as the first-generation daughter of Nigerian immigrants and a proud queer Black person, she also celebrates the little details and the simple pleasures of being alive. Of course, the narrator’s humble demeanor belies the gravity of her extraordinary accomplishments thus far—from captivating audiences on sold out tours and late-night television to finding herself with a guitar in hand on the White House lawn in celebration of equality. Now, she takes stock of the trip so far on her highly anticipated forthcoming full-length album, Proof of Life.

“One day, I was looking around my house,” she recalls. “I have all of these little tchotchkes—like figurines and a stuffed Big Bird on my speaker. I was morbidly thinking, ‘What happens to those things after I die?’ What are the emotions and ideas that are important and true to me? What will I leave behind? Being a queer Black person growing up in Arizona is unique to my story. I was always the person at the party who wants to commiserate over how weird or good things can be. This album is evidence of how I live. It tries to capture the human experience.”

Capturing the human experience has become Joy’s forte. After grinding it out for years, she reached critical mass with her 2021 major label debut, in defense of my own happiness. It graced countless year-end lists and led Vanity Fair to declare, “Her name is both prescient and redundant. She oozes energy that shifts a room’s center of gravity and makes you happy for it. It is charisma and she has it in spades. It’s the way she approaches her craft too.” Along the way, she’s delivered unforgettable performances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, PBS’s Austin City Limits and NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert and more, and captivated festivalgoers at Bonnaroo, Hangout, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk Festival and Ohana Festival. Not to mention, she’s also appeared on HULU’s Your Attention Please: The Concert and landed prominent syncs on CSI: Vegas, This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, And Just Like That and Station 19, to name a few. Plus, she has joined forces with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Lucie Silvas, Noah Kahan and Jason Isbell for collaborations. Most recently, she played “Sunday” and “Jordan” at the Respect for Marriage Act signing ceremony in front of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on the South Lawn of the White House.

Throughout 2022, she wrote and recorded what would become Proof of Life with producers Mike Elizondo, Ian Fitchuk, and Dan Wilson with Joy co-producing.

“My lyricism is very open, and I’m able to dip my toes into genres and styles I’ve always loved,” she goes on. “There’s a full spectrum of vulnerability. Not only am I telling you about my fears, feelings, and triumphs, but I’m also showing you sonic elements and sounds I’m inspired by.”

She initially paved the way for the album with “Purple Haze” and “Keeping The Light On” before sharing standout “Sweet Symphony” with Chris Stapleton. The latter connected with audiences and tastemakers, inciting the immediate applause of Rolling Stone, Billboard, and more.

The single “Changes” evokes sensitivity in the cracks between a marching band-style drum roll, gently plucked acoustic guitar, soulful horns, and slide guitar. Pondering the world around her, she confesses, “I don’t want to stay the same, so I’m trying to keep up with the changes.”

“I was thinking of this moment,” she notes. “My career has taken off in a way I always hoped it would, and there’s nowhere to go but up. I also want to have relationships and make a change in my community. I love to pick up a guitar, have a conversation, and strum. ‘Changes’ is about keeping up with the way people change and the way I change in addition to acknowledging how the past affects and informs those changes.”

Elsewhere, her voice echoes through strains of sparse piano on “You At The Table” [feat. Manchester Orchestra]. The momentum ramps up with a glitchy drum beat as Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull responds with a pensive vocal.

“I wrote the song from a place of knowing what it’s like to miss somebody,” Joy goes on. “Relationships aren’t easy. When you’re insecure, scared, and frustrated, you do unstable things—like sleep in front of the door in the hallway to know when your partner is leaving. It’s about the tension of nothing being perfect in any relationship. ‘You At The Table’ is about finding and fighting for the healthy space to be the best version of yourself for the people you love.”

Elsewhere, “Revolution” [feat. Maxo Kream] nods to the eighties Afropop movement with a bright rhythm and neon keys as Joy laments, “I was born too late to really make a difference.” Meanwhile, Houston spitter Maxo Kream pulls up with a punchy, yet poignant rhyme.

“As a black queer human in my thirties, I’m an anomaly,” she observes. “I have an opportunity to make a model for a life I didn’t imagine was possible when I was a kid, so a future generation can say, ‘There’s a place for me in this world’. It’s a privilege to be a rarity in this world. To me, Maxo is ‘Biggie from Texas’. He has this desire to give his family the best he can without violence, which is relatable to a lot of marginalized groups. ‘Revolution’ is about being part of a group on the outskirts, yet rising to the occasion to inspire hope in yourself and others like you.”

Following their collaboration on the fan favorite “Someone Like You,” Joy reteams with Noah Kahan on the apocalyptically catchy “We’re All Gonna Die.” Backed by distorted guitar, off-kilter strings, and a hummable fret-burning solo, the hook swoons, “We’re all gonna die trying to figure it out. We’re all getting high anyway we know how.”

“It shows the edge in our personalities, which I’ve recognized through our friendship,” she smiles. “It comes through in the music. Even though we’re both known for a lot of folk renditions, this is loud and a lot of fun.”

The album concludes with “Somehow.” Piano glimmers as she reminds herself “of the places where I’ve found peace, solace, and resilience in the ability to sit in the uncertainty of things not being okay.”

“The song saved me, so I could make the rest of the record,” she admits.

Proof Of Life might just shine some light in your life when you need it.

“I hope these are helpful anthems,” she leaves off. “I started making music because I wasn’t hearing from the ‘everyday human being’ on the radio. I hope this resonates with anybody who feels normal and needs a little musical boost to get through the day. I’m average. I do this job because I love what I do. I put so much care, craft, and intention into it. I’m making music to live to.”

Joy Oladokun

Joy Oladokun
With a guitar in hand, baseball cap over her eyes, and hooded sweatshirt loose, a woman sings with all of the poetry, pain, passion, and power her soul can muster. She is a new kind of American troubadour. She is Joy Oladokun. The Delaware-born, Arizona-raised, and Nashville-based Nigerian-American singer, songwriter, and producer projects unfiltered spirit over stark piano and delicate guitar. After attracting acclaim from Vogue, NPR, and American Songwriter, her words arrive at a time right when we need them the most.

"Words are such a powerful tool," she states. "I remember all of the best and worst things anyone has ever said to me. I love and respect the ability of words to touch on the physical realm. I'm very intentional with my words. I'm grateful and try to be as encouraging as I can, because I've been in situations where that has not been the case and it's hurt me or others. People are traumatized by words or uplifted and encouraged to change their lives and careers by them."

The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she was the first in the family to be born in America. After some time in Delaware, they moved to Arizona. Dad's record collection included hundreds of titles, and he introduced Joy to everyone from Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, and King Sunny Adé to Conway Twitty and Johnny Cash. As mom and dad stressed academics, she wasn't allowed to watch TV on weekdays. On Saturday, they would "either rent a movie from Blockbuster or watch the thousands of hours of concert and music video footage dad had recorded since coming to the States." One afternoon, she witnessed Tracy Chapman pay homage to Nelson Mandela during his 70th birthday tribute at Wembley Arena.

It changed everything...

"I grew up in Casa Grande, which is in the middle of nowhere in Arizona," she goes on. "I was surrounded by images of white dudes with guitars. I was programmed to believe people around me listened if somebody had a guitar. As a shy kid and one of the only black children in town, I had a lot of social anxiety. Seeing Tracy Chapman up there with a guitar in front of a full stadium was such an empowering moment. I ran into the next room and begged my parents to buy me a guitar for Christmas -- which was six months away," she laughs.

With her new Christmas gift, she went from crafting her first song about The Lord of The Rings to penning songs dedicated to her mother after rough days at work. Eventually, the local church needed a guitar player, and she ended up working there full-time for almost six years.

After college in Orange County, she relocated to Los Angeles where writing became a job...and she finally came out.

"I quit the church and came out of the closet," she recalls. "I got to a point where I was like, 'If God exists, he does not care that I'm gay. With all of the things happening, he cannot give a shit.' I feel like it's not an accident I'm a queer black woman writing and making music."

She wrote and recorded countless songs alone in her Los Angeles apartment, even playing six instruments. Her music and story galvanized a growing fan base as she completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to release her independent debut, Carry. Her song "No Turning Back" soundtracked a viral baby announcement by Ciara and Russell Wilson, opening up the floodgates. She landed a string of high-profile syncs, including NBC's This Is Us, ABC's Grey's Anatomy, and Showtime's The L Word: Generation Q. Around the same time, she settled in Nashville, TN and continued to create at a feverish pace. On the heels of in defense of my own happiness (the beginnings), she garnered unanimous critical praise. Billboard touted the album as one of the "Top 10 Best LGBTQ Albums of 2020," while NPR included "i see america" among the "100 Best Songs of 2020." Predicted as on the verge of a massive breakthrough, she emerged on various tastemaker lists, including Spotify's RADAR Artists to Watch 2021, YouTube "Black Voices Class of 2021," NPR's 2021 "Artists To Watch," and Amazon Music's "Artist To Watch 2021." Not to mention, Vogue crowned her #1 "LBTQ+ Musician To Listen To." She kicked off the new year by making her television debut on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with a stunning and stirring performance of "breathe again."

Ultimately as she releases new music, Joy's words might make you cry, and they might make you think, but they'll definitely make you smile.

"When you listen to me, I want you to feel like you've taken an emotional shower," she leaves off. "That's what I'm trying to accomplish for myself. To me, music is a vehicle of catharsis. I write a lot of sad songs, but I always push for a sliver of a silver lining or glimmer of hope it could be better. That's why I'm writing in the first place. I want you to be changed when you hear me, and not because I'm special, but because I make music with the intention to change myself."

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