1.Growing Up

My key childhood music memory is bunking off school so I could come home to an empty house and put on my dad’s records to absorb them uninterrupted. Dad has a fantastic vinyl record collection – when I discovered albums like Stevie Wonder’sSongs In The Key Of Life, Quincy Jones’Sounds… And Stuff Like That!!and The Eagles’Hotel California, I was changed forever!

2.Inspirations

My favourite musicians and artists are Stevie Wonder, Prince – I remember being around 14 whenPurple Raincame out in New Zealand (where I grew up) and I fell in love with him. What a groundbreaking record that was. I also love Joni Mitchell, Sarah Vaughan, Chaka Khan… too many to mention here, but I did get introduced to jazz at a young age when I attended the Christchurch School of Jazz at age 18.

3.Your Band

My band consists of some of Sydney’s finest musicians – Sam McNally on keys (from the band Stylus – one of Australia’s hottest bands in the ’70s), Victor Rounds on bass (Jenny Morris, Marcia Hines), Steve Fearnley on drums (Ian Moss, Mark Williams). I also have Amanda Easton and Liza Ohlback on backing vocals. I’m so lucky to have such a fine group playing with me. My EPThe Right Timewas produced by Ash Maklad, another of Sydney’s finest.

4.The Music You Make

I’d say my music draws influences from artists such as Tina Arena, Jewel, Sarah Vaughan and Chaka Khan. I pour heart and soul into every note of each song’s emotive lyrics. ‘The Right Time’ (my EP’s title track) speaks of synchronicity in life, while my song ‘Here I Am’ transports you straight back in time to your old hometown.

5.Music, Right Here, Right Now

As a vocal and music teacher at The Australian Institute of Music I find teaching not only keeps me on my toes with what I do, but it’s great to be able to inspire and impart knowledge to the younger generation of talent coming up.

There’s so much to learn about our industry, and although talent is important of course, it’s not the only thing you need to have a long-lasting career in the music industry. I try to teach the kids about humility, integrity, honesty – as well as making them aware of the fact that you need dedication and passion for what you do. It’s hard work, but in the words of Sting, “Music is its own reward.” You have to be in it for the right reasons.

Catch Jo Elms at The Foundry616 on Friday May 16, alongside Alex Gibson with tickets available online.The Right TimeEP is out now.

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