Joan Armatrading looks back on the ‘Consequences’ of her trailblazing 50-year career: ‘There were very strong things about me that people had to get used to’

Joan Armatrading (Photo: BMG)

When Joan Armatrading released her debut album almost half a century ago,she confounded expectations. Her own record label at the time admittedly had no idea how to market her, as there was no blueprint for what the she was doing in 1972. “I was just writing what I felt like writing and playing what I felt like playing. And I played the guitar — I still do — in a really strong way that I suppose some people would say is not a ‘feminine’ kind of delicate way,” she tells Yahoo Entertainment. “I really bashed the guitar. I have a definite way of playing that’s strong. And people weren’t used to that.”

Armatrading also reveals that (as she references in her 1979 hit “How Cruel”), she “did have people say ‘she’s too Black’ or ‘not Black enough’” — because the sort of folk-rock she was making wasn’t what was expected of her. “But I didn’t think of it as a racist thing,” she stresses. “That wasn’t it for me. I think where that came from was, I can remember once going to a gig and I was with two female artists and I heard somebody say, ‘Oh, I know how that Black girl is going to sound.’