In life, as a Co-Creator with the Universe, I must have vision and a plan. In 1981, I finished my B.A. in Music and Communications and moved from Philly back to my hometown, New York City. There, I worked as a keypunch operator at a computer school on Columbus Circle with Quincy Jones’ first wife, Jerry Jones. I learned Lanier word processing from a wonderful friend Patricia and worked as a temp for Ernst & Whinney at the Citicorp Building on the 53rd floor. This enabled me to increase my earning capacity from $8 to $14 an hour. Eventually, I was making $25 an hour, working 6 hours a night for a very prestigious law firm that sent me home in a limo, every evening after work!
Often, I walked from 53rd and Lexington to 60th and Madison, stopping at travel agencies, collecting travel guides that I would use to create a DREAM BOARD in my home office on 139th Street and 7th Avenue, in Harlem. Eventually, I visited most of the countries on that board. That plan came to fruition in 1990, when I began touring Europe as a jazz vocalist.
Also, I embraced my musical career by performing with Artie Simmons and The Jazz Samaritans that included George Cables on piano and Cindy Blackman on drums. When singing in Central Park and in front of the Plaza Hotel became too much for my vocal chords, I booked my band Joan Cartwright & Jazz Hotline at the Blue Note and at Freddy’s. I had begun attending Barry Harris’ piano and vocal workshops, while I lived in Philly, and continued until I moved to Fort Lauderdale, in July 1984.
My career really took off in South Florida, where I was a big fish in a very little pond on the Jazz Scene. By 1990, I was on my way to Europe – Holland, France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, England, Austria, and Italy – where I sang and made a really good living. In April 1994, when I completed my Master’s in Communication at Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton, FL, I moved to Switzerland, where I lived until September 1996.
Isabella Romeo was the hostess and Angelo Unia was my accompaniest
After touring Europe, I moved back to Fort Lauderdale, and semi-retired for one year, until the owners of Ellington’s in Hollywood, FL, hired my band to perform on the weekends. From August 1997 to March 1998, I organized Gaiafest, A Celebration of Mother Earth with Women in Jazz, honoring vocalist Dakota Staton, and featuring fabulous and Amazing Musicwomen.
From 2001 to 2002, I owned Motherland Bridge Gallery, where I featured several local artists and sold batiks and Shona sculpture that I acquired on trips to Johannesburg, Ghana, and The Gambia. That lasted for 18 months, until July 2003, when my daughter packed me up and moved me to Atlanta, where I helped run her business Caustic Entertainment Group, continued my work as a website designer, and wrote my first of 11 books, a memoir In Pursuit of a Melody. While awaiting my copies of the book to be delivered, I was contracted to perform at CJW Club in Shanghai, China, for three months (May-July 2006), thanks to my friend and colleague Sandra Kaye.
In 2002, I joined a press tour to Brazil for nine days and had the time of my life! That was in May, and in June, I traveled from Milan to Palermo, Sicily, and back with my best friend Bess Covington, in an Alfa Romeo, as Divas on Wheels!
From July 2003 to May 2006, I lived in Atlanta, where I renovated Caustic Studio, where we recorded my song Talkin’ That Jazz.
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Now, in 2014, I am realizing my 2-year Plan: To complete my PhD in Business Marketing – www.drdivajc.com and become a Director at YTB TRAVEL and travel everywhere on my bucket list. Visit my Travel Club blog and join my team at www.fyitravelclub.wordpress.com