Josi Davis
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Josi Davis

Niantic, CT | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Niantic, CT | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Jazz Rock




"CD Review: Josi Davis - The Evolution of Love"

The Evolution of Love, the new album from Josi Davis, is a marathon run through from the catalog of Americana music styles. Transitioning from Jazz, Blues, Country, Soul, Roots Rock N’ Roll - back and forth - and blending all of them together, Josi’s using the whole color palette on this one. While this approach might seem haphazard, the order in which the songs are arranged smooths out all of the sharp corners that can be created by putting that many different genres on one record.

While Josi and her splendid vocal range take center stage there is a very accomplished group of musicians behind her, including: John Van Ness, Rufus “baby grand” Davis, Carl Franklin and William Light to name a few. Recorded at Carl Franklin’s PWOP Studios here in New London, there is sheen to the production but still a very natural and live tone to The Evolution of Love. The vocals and drums sound like the rooms they were recorded in and the mix is one you’d expect more from a professional live show than a record.

While I’d say that the album on a whole is pretty mellow and introspective my personal favorite moments are the more upbeat and jumpy. The slide guitar soaked “Another Saturday Night” and “Ivy Grows” are great dance numbers a real showcase for the musicianship on the album. So if you are into taking a musical journey across the Americana landscape, The Evolution of Love by Josi Davis should be your roadmap. - Adam Wujtewicz -

"Josi Davis: Devotion Personified"

There’s a not so-secret secret about the way Josi Davis produced and recorded her new CD, “Evolution of Love.”

It’s live.

She, John Van Ness and Carl Franklin produced the 12-track menu of songs in a highly organized 18-hour weekend whirlwind at PWOP! Studios in New London, Ct. last July.

It matters, because Saturday, Josi and the accomplished musicians on the album will be reproducing “Evolution of Love” live at The Barn at Old Orchard Farm in East Lyme. The performance undoubtedly will make you rock and sway, because that little black and red compact disk has the power to do that on its own on a modest sound system in my living room.

It matters, because this live recording packs a punch: crisp, clean, vibrant instrumentation, articulate lyrics, and stories about love, falling in, falling out, and no worse the wear, eventually for that.

The songs progress, like a fine six-course meal, through a tempestuous tango, the metaphors of exploding stars or train travel, and love lost, ending on a note of rapturous adoration. “It’s true,” she sings in “I Don’t Mind,” I’d rather hold you than lose you to the world, and as I wonder why I’m fighting to hold onto you, I’m reminded that you’re standing by my side.”

The fourth track, “What I Want,” might use a diesel train as a metaphor for the trip up the steep hill of commitment and around the bend of lust on a run towards a dream, but it just simply makes you want to move when you hear it. It’s got a driving drum beat, punctuated by masterful lead guitar and lyrical repetition building to a vocal crescendo: “I wanna love you, Yeah.”

The bold mix of jazz, southern roots and blues alternates between moody introspection and catchy, pulsing rhythms. Sample it here.

Franklin mixed and mastered the album, luring in trumpet player Doug Woolverton, Davis said in a recent interview. Van Ness brought in organist Anthony Cafiero. Twelve musicians, all told, make this work jell, including the producers, with Davis on acoustic guitar, piano, and rhodes as well as vocals.

The songs are “all very emotional,” Davis concedes. “Each one is a ride in itself. When you’re listening to the whole thing it can be very intense.”

The songs work on many levels: some originated in personal experience, some in the experiences she watched loved ones go through.

Davis wrote “Supernova” in memory of her grandmother, helpless to save her husband from a heart attack.

“We’re all pieces of the cosmos,” Josi says. “‘There’s a star for every life that goes on living,’” she adds. “That’s the line that wrote that song.”

“You Can’t Take My Heart” is written in the voice of an acquaintance who came home from directing a play in another country to find her husband had found another woman. But while Davis made a deep personal connection that allowed her to speak in another’s voice, she also transposed that experience to a more universal one. And it’s what the listener brings to the song, she says, that makes that song a living thing.

“I know where the story of the song comes from,” she reminds us, “but when you listen to a song I don’t want to steal the story that might come from you.”

So come down to the Barn Saturday. At 7 p.m., the show will go on. Live. A work of devotion, about devotion in its many forms.

To steal a line from one of the songs, “This magic must be love.” - Pat Daddona

"The Evolution of Josi Wails Davis - A review of her debut album: The Evolution of Love"

February 14th, 2013

The title of Josi Davis’ debut album, The Evolution of Love, opens the door to a few questions—is it a sappy collection of love songs, adolescent pop, or just kitsch? Fortunately, the answer is none of the above. This is not an album for the bubblegum set, it is for the adults in the room—men and women alike. Ms. Davis (vocalist, composer and multi- instrumentalist) lays out pure originals characterized by a range of adjectives from sensual to fun, engaging to hungry.

The album is actually the musical score for an intimate cabaret show envisioned by Ms. Davis. By cabaret, she means a close-up, floor-level, interactive performance. The twelve songs on the album are a culmination of several years writing lyrics more akin to prose. It is difficult to pigeonhole the artist and music into one genre. Ms. Davis avoids labels, preferring to be known for her artistry. Listeners will pick and choose a style they know best: Blues, Country, Rock or Jazz.

If the album was a pitch for a series of films, picture a black-and-white thriller set against the canals of Venice, with Supernova as the title song—it moves with all the sultry curves of Sophia Loren. The soulful ballad, You Can’t Take My Heart, evokes echoes of Carole King set to a wintry dusk in Central Park, as the thirty something female lead walks in the distance. Ms. Davis ’impassioned vocals are backed by a beautiful arrangement written in waltz time. The heel kicking Another Saturday Night is fun and filled with sharp lyrics, such as, “I’m a love maker and big risk taker, probably not a good wife.” Imagine tight denim and a line dance on the roof of the General Lee.

The songs are sequenced according to the script Ms. Davis wrote for the live show. They follow several themes as Ms. Davis’ story unfolds. It begins with steamy and susceptible attraction (Tango and Must Be Love); moves to sophistication (Supernova, What I Want); then hard choices (You Can’t Take My Heart, Ivy Grows); and concludes with maturity (In Too Deep, A Little More, Appetite, and I Don’t Mind). The fusion jazz composition Brother Stand by Me is a universal anthem. A Little More swaggers with hips of a 1920’s flapper.

The Evolution of Love is a treasure map of hidden gems for everyone. It will rekindle memories of past loves, one night stands, and lost love. It’s also an evolution of musical styles - performed with the styling of a jazz vocalist. The Evolution of Love may be Ms. Davis’ debut album, but it comes off as though she has released ten. Ultimately, the album is really the evolution of Josi Davis.
Artist Link:

The Evolution of Josi Wails Davis, Copyright 2013, by Anthony S.J. Sirna
The Evolution of Love, Copyright 2013, by Josi Davis
- Anthony S.J. Sirna -

"Grace Magazine: Improvising Life"

Improvising life
Blues and Jazz musician Josi Davis took the long and winding road to a life of music
By Mary Jane Fine
Josi Davis can’t think of a time – not now, not ever – when music wasn’t part of her life. Singing? Well, that’s just doing what came naturally.
“I always sang things,” she says and launches into a demonstration that, at another time, in another place, could’ve been about brushing her teeth or shopping for groceries. Right now, it’s this: “Here’s my mo-o-ocha, here’s my mo-o-ocha….”
Which is precisely what’s here on this recent morning at Bartleby’s Coffee Café in Mystic. She’s sitting at an undersized table, hefting an oversized yellow coffee cup over-filled with “Mocha Especial,” the whipped-cream topping crisscrossed by a lattice of chocolate.
This is not one of her regular venues.
As a singer of blues and jazz, a composer of both, Davis has acquired a top-notch reputation and an enthusiastic fan base. She performs a lot.
“Her love-soaked and blues-infused repertoire incorporates rock, funk, and R&B elements, powerful originals and saucy interpretations of contemporary and traditional favorites that keep her listeners hooked,” raves Sonicbids, an online platform that connects bands and music promoters.
“Josi Davis is sublime,” guitarist Les Haley concludes, on that same site.
Arriving at this level has not been a tra-la-la through the park.
While music has always been her passion, it hasn’t always been her profession. There have been times – School of Hard Knocks times, she calls them – when Davis made her living working in far less glam fields. In a seafood bar, for example, and a B-B-Q place, a T-shirt shop and selling roses on a street corner. And, back in 2004, she worked at Foxwoods Casino in the fire-and-life safety department as an editorial assistant, her first “real job,” in Connecticut, she says.
It was there that she won an employee talent show, which rewarded her with a gig as the opener for a Bill Cosby appearance. A push toward her eventual career, but just a gentle push. There were many steps along the way, leading to the most recent one.
“It’s only in the last year that I took the leap,” she says. “I always had a day job.”
That would be the leap into full-time singing, songwriting and teaching both singing and songwriting.
“Everything I’m doing now is related to music and my career,” she says. “A choice, rather than I-need-to-make-the-dough. It’s the difference between working for someone and with someone.”
The leap was a scary one, she says, though teaching has been a steadying component, providing about half her income. It came about with a little help from her friends.
“I first met Josi through a mutual friend who was helping her assemble a band for a New Years Eve gig at Foxwoods in 2005,” says guitarist Chris Leigh. “It was immediately clear upon meeting her how serious she was about her work, and that she was also a truly gifted singer and songwriter. We got to know one another through the process of preparing for that gig, and when Amy, my wife and business partner, and I decided to open String Theory School of Music in Niantic in 2006, Josi was the first person I recruited to teach. She really rose to the challenge and has become a skilled teacher who is loved by her students for the effort and sensitivity she brings to their learning experience.”
So, now, here she is, on a Sunday afternoon, at String Theory School of Music where a profusion of students – hers and other instructors’ – are stepping up to the mike to strut their musical stuff. An 8-year-old drummer named Ryan Novick, who has the flair of a pro, plays back-up to one of Josi’s own numbers.
Not everyone demonstrates young Ryan’s level of talent, but this monthly “Coffeehouse” is partly a teaching tool aimed at helping students gain confidence and stage presence. The sessions are recorded and played back during lessons, for teacher- and self-analysis. They’re also, with a student’s OK, put on YouTube because, as Davis says, “It’s something you can share with the world; that’s what music is for.”
And for as long as Davis can remember, music has been a constant in her life. As a child, back in Washington, D.C. (her dad was a military man, stationed for 17 years at Bolling Air Force Base) and then Odenton, Maryland, she sang four-part harmony with her parents and her older sister Chariti. At church, she belonged to the choir. In high school, she involved herself in theater. Music was even the matchmaker for her parents, who met in the University of Florida’s marching band. Her dad played bassoon; her mother, flute.
Her first-ever composition? She was eight, and called the tune “Little Wagon on the Prairie.” She copied it down in pencil in a little blue notebook. Made sure each note was carefully rounded. Wrote it in one sitting.
But the long and winding road to a musical career really began during her college years with a possibility that seemed too good to ignore.
“I’m definitely a believer in that,” she says. “When an opportunity presents itself, you pursue it.”

One was back in her second year at West Virginia Wesleyan: There was this group of musicians, and they invited her to join their band as keyboardist/vocalist and head out to Seattle with them. So, she went home to see what her parents thought and at their suggestion, jotted down the pros and cons.
“And, of course,” she says, laughing at herself, “the cons way outweighed the pros.”
But off she went anyway. A 10-day, cross-country road trip — all for naught, as it turned out.
“There was a band when we left for Seattle,” she says, “but by the time we got there, it didn’t exist. I learned about existing though, and I learned some things about people. I was very angry when I came back. I felt I’d been discarded by these people.
“This is gonna be a great movie one day. Yeah, I’ve gotta write that someday.”
It was out on the West Coast that she worked the string of selling-roses-on-the-corner and other nowhere jobs. Just a life lesson, she says now. And maybe one reason she loves the blues: “The trials and tribulations. It’s heartfelt. There’s a power in that. It’s spiritual. You’re being lifted out of yourself.”
That goes for jazz, too: “I love jazz,” she says, a rhapsodic smile on her face. “I love the improvisational aspect. You never know what’s coming. And I live that way, too. I never know what’s coming. I think I was built for jazz.”
That kind of lifestyle covers much territory. A glimpse: She studied voice and music and theater in Maryland and West Virginia and Connecticut; got into her first band, Secret Service, in 1996; did a stint in 2008 as Mark Fusco Scholar at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Cabaret & Performance Conference; joined a few musical ensembles; won a couple of awards; and met some other talented musicians along the way. One of them was drummer John Van Ness, who can be heard on Davis’ first solo CD album, “Evolution of Love.”
“This is no easy task trying to convey what it’s like to work with Josi Davis,” Van Ness says. “I’ll start by saying it’s challenging, but a lot of fun. I have been blessed to make music with her now for two and-a-half years. Local musicians were always quick to speak of her talents as a vocalist and songwriter. She had heard about me from the same circle of folks being a solid drummer and a capable singer. But somehow our live-show schedules never seemed to work for one of us to get to the other’s gig. It got to be a running joke with us for months. At some point, the planets aligned, and she asked me to come to her music space and jam on some ideas. I was blown away. Her musical vision and vocabulary seemed endless, and she was so excited about where these songs could go.”
So what comes first, writing the music or the lyrics? Well, it’s either-or, Davis says. The muse can have a terrible sense of timing. An idea may strike when she’s tooling along the highway, unable to jot down either notes or lyrics. Her solution: carry an iPhone everywhere and record those thoughts.
“Usually, when I don’t have time, when I have all these other things going on. Then the muse goes, “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, that’s what you thought,” she says.
Her life is her raw material, and the writing process can hit some vulnerable spots. She has ways of getting around that. “Oftentimes, I’m not staying true to the experience when I’m telling a story about myself,” she says. “I will write with some humor because that’s the catharsis: ‘This wrecked me, and I don’t want to be wrecked.’”
Here’s drummer Van Ness on the subject: “It didn’t take long for me to understand that when “the Muse” appears, she must drop everything to accommodate, or risk losing that initial creative spark. Sometimes, she’d dig into it and, two hours later, she’d have a song she wanted to share. Other times, I wouldn’t hear from her for a week, and then a mostly finished song would come over in a text message or an e-mail, accompanied by a humble, ‘I think this might turn into something.’ She wouldn’t sit down at the piano or grab her guitar and say, ‘Today I’m writing a new song.’ It hasn’t generally worked that way. She has always seemed to honor the idea that inspiration comes from anywhere at any time.”
Davis’s blues-y, jazz-y, club-y, country-fusion style owes much to those who influenced her: Ella Fitzgerald and Cole Porter and Billy Strahorn. Nina Simone and Abby Lincoln and Duke Ellington. Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile.
“Her singing style reminds me of the best of the singers that I’d always loved,” says bassist Bert Coburn, who also played on “Evolution of Love.”
“Her voice can exhibit Joni Mitchell’s smoky fragility,
Phoebe Snow’s full bodied barroom belt, and Ann Wilson’s rock-and-roll wail. Occasionally, they come out all at once,” he said.
So, yes, music is her life – but not all of it. Paramount in Davis’s life is motherhood. Her 14-year-old son Elan plays drums and piano, but isn’t committed to music in the way she is.
“It’s definitely been an outlet for him; he has a wonderful sense of rhythm,” she says. “He listens to songs in video games. He’ll be able to tell me, in a movie, about the soundtrack. . . He’s an artist. He’s into the fantastical – space-scapes and astronomy. He’s fascinating. I think our children enlighten us to things we don’t know about ourselves, that we didn’t work through at times. It makes you more introspective.”
She and Elan’s dad, a keyboardist, met when they played together in a band. They split about a dozen years ago – “most of Elan’s life, really. But we’re friendly. Elan sees him a lot.”
Just about a year ago, Davis decided that what she really wanted was to have a band that allowed her to play her own music. A band that would provide entre into last year’s first-ever Mystic Blues Festival. So Josi Davis & Hot Damn! was born. But for the second annual Mystic Blues Festival ( – June 27, 28 and 29 at Mystic Seaport – Davis is taking a behind-the-scenes position, as a promoter and planner. She’s chair of the education committee and all-but bubbles over with delight about it: “I’ve got a bunch of ideas. It’s moving into non-profit status . . . I want to do radio broadcasting. And workshops – master classes and clinics. It’s an opportunity for people of all ages to come and learn about the blues, about the origin of the blues.”
And then it will be back to business-as-usual, the business of making music. And what could be better?
“There is a question we ask each other prior to performance,” Bert Coburn says, setting the mood. “Who’s gonna have more fun than us?” - The Day Publishing



"Your Kiss" (single) - Philly Nouveau Records


"Mind Bender" (single) - Hook River Music

"Chapter One" (single) - Hook River Music

A full-length original album recorded live over one weekend and 18 hours

"Ivy Grows" (single)
**2013 Whalie Award Winner - Best Solo Singer/Songwriter Performance**
THE GOOD SPONGE SAMPLER VOL. II - (2013 Whalie Award Winner - Best Americana Album)

Live Performance (DVD)
A love-soaked and blues infused nouveau cabaret - an intimate musical experience, told through the songs and mostly-true stories of award winning singer/songwriter Josi Davis.

A dynamic collection of live and recorded original works.

Video/Performance Album/Event

Video/Performance Album/Event

String Theory
Davis, Frishman & Leigh
A live studio jazz album of fresh arrangements from Dizzie to Warren, Gershwin to Mercer. 

The Evolution of Love (2007) Preview
The first iteration of a project that would become an album.

Kevin Desabrais
(background vocals & arrangements, guitar, keyboards, percussion)

Josi Wails

one hand clapping
(lead & background vocals, piano, guitar, composition)
Laughing Buddha Music

In Theory
(lead & background vocals, vocal arrangements)
Cowdick Music



"Her voice can exhibit Joni Mitchell's smoky fragility, Phoebe Snow's full bodied barroom belt, and Ann Wilson's rock-and-roll wail. Occasionally, they come out all at once..."   - Grace Magazine 


Josi Davis is a hard-working, dynamic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist playing consistently all over New England, and currently planning tours to support the release of her upcoming album. Her forays into rock, blues, funk, jazz and soul have served to create her unique and sophisticated sound. Vibrant vocals, intelligent lyrics and a commanding repertoire rich with jazz and blues-infused originals and the classic sounds of Soul, Rock, Rhythm & Blues dive headfirst into all the passions of life, love… and mischief. Whether performing solo or with her band, Josi’s appearances are entertaining and exhilarating. Compared to songwriters and performers like Carole King, Laura Nyro, and Amy Winehouse, every show is full of stories, humor and superlative musical prowess.


"It was immediately clear upon meeting her how serious she was about her work...a truly gifted singer and songwriter." - Chris Leigh, Co-Founder, Mystic Blues Festival 



Boston Folk Festival

Mystic Blues Festival

New York Singer/Songwriter Festival

Stafford Springs Blues Festival

Mohegan Sun Casino

Foxwoods Resort Casino

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center

Cummings Arts Center

Courthouse Center for the Arts


“Josi Davis is one of the region's finest talents, a powerful and distinctive vocalist and a songwriter whose appreciation for all manners of musical styles is evident in her work…



Josi won the first ever BETSY Award at Foxwoods Casino that led to opening for two Bill Cosby shows and a nod from the William Morris Agency in NYC.

Her debut album, The Evolution of Love was nominated for Best Album in the 2014 Connecticut Music Awards and garnered four Whalie Award nominations, including a win for Best Solo Singer/Songwriter Performance for “Ivy Grows.”

Her sophomore release, tentatively titled Love : Rain will indelibly add to the list.

…and if advance single "Your Kiss" is any indication, the CD should be a sophisticated and lovely offering.” – Rick Koster, The Day 



With the February release of her new single “Your Kiss” (Philly Nouveau

Records), Josi has poised herself as a powerful new voice in contemporary music. Love : Rain is her first collaboration with legendary producer and arranger Louis Anthony deLise whose credits include hits with Patti LaBelle, William DeVaughn and recordings with Grammy-winning Halestorm and alongside Janice Ian, Julian Lennon, Wynonna Judd and Paul Shaffer. “Your Kiss” can be heardon WJJZ Philadelphia, KEUL, WAVE FM and on terrestrial and cyber stations from AK to the UK.



Love : Rain (2017)

“Calling” (Single) (2017)

“Your Kiss” (Single) (2017)

The Evolution of Love (2013)


"Josi Davis is sublime." - Les Haley, Savage Brothers/Reverend Guitars 

Josi's talent extends beyond her cinematic songwriting and intimate performances. When she's not working on her own music, she passes her musical wisdom on to her students and at various conferences and festivals; she is a visionary teacher of voice, piano, songwriting, instrument integration, the business of musicianship and the joy of performance for all ages.  





FB: Josi Davis Music 



Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Bill Withers, Laura Nyro, Rickie Lee Jones, Traffic, Steely Dan, The Police, Led Zeppelin

Band Members