Joan Armatrading was born in Basseterre, Saint Kitts, in the West Indies, in 1950, and moved to Birmingham, England with her family at the age of eight. Upon graduation from school, she took a factory job where they made engineering tools. She was eventually fired because she would perform for her co-workers during tea breaks, which they felt slowed down the factory's productivity.
Armatrading soon landed a role in the London production of Hair and eventually started focusing on singing and songwriting. Another Hair cast member, Pam Nestor, began writing material and signed a deal with the indie Cube Records in 1972.
The label, not convinced Nestor had star quality, released it as a "Joan Armatrading" record, which immediately caused the break up of the duo and caused a rift between Armatrading and Cube Records. She was inactive as a recording artist until 1975, when she was signed to A&M Records in the U.K., and began working with famed producers Pete Gage and Glyn Johns.
Within two years, she would be a big star in the U.K. and a rising folk-rock singer/ songwriter in the U.S. Today, she works mostly in Europe and has recently released an all blues-oriented record.