Jillian Armsbury

Jillian Armsbury
Birth name Jill Maureen Armsbury
Born 1962

Spokane, Washington
Died January 22, 2009
Occupation(s) Musician
Labels RMM

Associated acts Los Jovenes del Barrio

Jillian Armsbury was a singer, performer, songwriter and occasional activist, originally from Washington State. She was a pioneer in the Charanga R&B music genre. She was the lead singer of the Latin group Los Jovenes del Barrio. She had worked with the latin jazz percussionist, Mongo Santamaria, singing on an album of his which was released in the late 1980s. She was the co-composer of "Do You Want My Love" which was a hit for CoCo Lee, which appeared on Lee's album Just No Other Way. She was married to bandleader Johnny Almendra and then later session musician Leon Pendarvis.

Background [ edit ]

Armsbury was born and raised in Washington State and Oregon and was of German, English, and Scottish ancestry. Her father married a black woman when she was three, so her family was also black. At the age of nine she was doing community theater. A formally trained dancer, she studied dance for some years. Later wanting to do New York Broadway work she realized that dancers were also singing so that led her to study music and singing. She grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, James Brown, John Coltrane and Motown.[1]

Armsbury was married to Johnny Almendra who founded Los Jovenes Del Barrio. At the time of their interview with George Rivera of Jazz Con Clave, they had been together for ten years.[2] She was also married to Saturday Night Live music director Leon Pendarvis,[3][4] who she remained married to until her death.[5]

Career [ edit ]

An article by Jessica Lynne Valiente of the Graduate Center, City University of New York credits Armsbury with the compositions that she contributed, and the artistic persona in her performances for creating a Latin / R&B fusion that was more successful than anything that had ever been tried during the boogaloo era or following it.[6][7] The group Los Jovenes del Barrio she was in was one of the most important bands in the New York bands in the New York Latin music scene, pushing the barriers as well as extending the musical shape.[8][9]

1980s - 1990s [ edit ]

Armsbury appeared on the Olé Ola album by Mongo Santamaria which was released in 1989.[10][11] She sang lead on the title song", the Diane Bulgarelli composition Olé Ola" as well having some involvement with Santamaria's composition "La Tumba".[12] In 1996, Los Jovenes Del Barrio released their Evolucionando album. The Billboard reviewer noted her shining performances on the songs "Telephone" and "Stop Slow Down".[13] A similar review was given by Cashbox in the February 10th issue.[14] With the group's experimentation with various Afro-Cuban styles, jazz and R&B, it caused a sensation.[15] In May 1998, along with Baby Zilla, she was appearing at the Downtime in New York.[16] She co-composed the song "Do You Want My Love" which was a hit for Coco Lee in New Zealand and Australia in 1999 making the top 20 in both countries.[17]

2000s [ edit ]

Armsbury provided background vocals on Rosie O'Donnell's Another Rosie Christmas album which was released in 2000. She also did background vocal work for the Swedish group Play on their 2003 album, Playin' Around.[18] In May 2007, she was a guest performer with Julia Wade in her Julia Wade in A Canvas of Colors show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre.[19] She contributed a rap to the Everybody Get Down by Funk Filharmonik, which was released in 2008.[20]

Activism [ edit ]

In 2000, Armsbury volunteered with the Shadow Convention of 2000. She performed with the children’s chorus who were the children orphaned as a result of parents being imprisoned in the war on drugs.[21]

In 2001, Armsbury was the spokes-woman for the United Musicians Front, a 50-member group of musicians who were protesting against radio stations which included La Mega, who had gone too far to the commercial side and lost touch with the people in New York.[22]

In 2008, Armsbury came to the Southeast Missouri State University at the request of its musical director Judith Farris to speak to the students.[23] She shared with them her experience with cancer.[24]

Death [ edit ]

Armsbury died in January 2009 of mesothelioma which was from exposure to asbestos.[25][26] In 2009, the Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Theatre and Dance and students dedicated their Sweet Charity musical production to Armsbury.[27] A concert was held in her memory which was in conjunction with the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.[28]

Discography [ edit ]

Albums with Los Jovenes del Barrio
Act Title Release info Year Notes
Johnny Almendra & Los Jovenes del Barrio Evolucionando RMM Records 82006 1996
Los Jovenes del Barrio Live RMM 82253 1998
Los Jovenes del Barrio The Best of Los Jovenes del Barrio RMM 84004 1999 [29]
Johnny Almendra Los Jóvenes del Barrio featuring Jillian Reconfirmando RMM 82159 - 1999 1999 [30] [31]
Los Jovenes del Barrio iEs Diferente Shanachie 66025 2000 [32] [33]
Appears on
Act Title Release info Year Notes
Mongo Santamaria Olé Ola Concord Picante CCD-4387 1989 [34] [35]
Various artists RMM 10th Anniversary Concert RMM 82227 1997 [36]
Funk Filharmonik Everybody Get Down 31220 Music/337 2008 [37]

References [ edit ]

  2. ^ Jazz Con Clave - Q&A: A Conversation With Johnny Almendra And Jillian by George Rivera
  3. ^ University of Arkansas News, Saturday, March 24, 2018 - 2018 Black Music Symposium: Shaping American, Music Meet the guest artists
  4. ^ Breath of Hope, Fall 2009 - Page 3
  5. ^ Breath of Hope, Fall 2009 - Page 3
  6. ^ CUNY Academic Works - Siento una Flauta: Improvisational Idiom, Style, and Performance Practice of Charanga Flutists in New York from 1960 to 2000,

    The Charanga Renaissance, Page 63 Siento una Flauta: Chapter 2 By Jessica Valiente
  7. ^ ProQuest - Siento una Flauta: Improvisational Idiom, Style, and Performance Practice of Charanga Flutists in New York from 1960 to 2000
  8. ^ Billboard, April 27, 1996 - Page 79 LATIN
  9. ^ The Beat, Volume 19 - Bongo Productions, 2000 - Page 31
  10. ^ Cadence, Volume 16, Issues 1-6 - Page 86
  11. ^ Jazz Journal International 1990 - Page 31
  12. ^ Discogs - Mongo Santamaria – Olé Ola, More Images (Back cover)
  13. ^ Billboard Magazine|Billboard, April 27, 1996 - Page 79 LATIN
  14. ^ Cashbox, February 10, 1996 - Page 14 LATIN, REVIEWS By Hector Resendez
  15. ^ Penguin encyclopedia of popular music, Donald Clarke - Page 234
  16. ^ New York Magazine, 17 May 1993 - Page 138 NightLife DIRECTORY, POP/JAZZ
  17. ^ - CoCo Lee - Do You Want My Love
  18. ^ AllMusic - Jill Armsbury, Credits
  19. ^ Broadway World, Apr. 23, 2007 - Galt McDermott Among Beechman Theatre May Line-Up by BWW News Desk
  20. ^ All lossless- Funk Filharmonik - Everybody Get Down (2008), Invited musicians:
  21. ^ Razor Wire, Winter 2009, Vol. 12 No. 1 - Page 9 Keeping an Eye on Congress
  22. ^ The New York Times, August 13, 2001 - Latino Radio Gaining Popularity and Scrutiny By MIREYA NAVARRO
  23. ^ Southeast Missourian, Thursday, February 26, 2009 - Dog serves as reminder, participant in Southeast's musical 'Sweet Charity' by Chris Harris
  24. ^ Southeast Missourian, Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 'Saturday Night Live' band leader to perform with SEMO students By Alaina Busch
  25. ^ It's About Time - Children of Struggle By Chuck Armsbury
  26. ^ Herencia Latina - Jillian, (1962 – 2009) Por Eric E. González
  27. ^ Southeast Missourian, Thursday, February 26, 2009 - Dog serves as reminder, participant in Southeast's musical 'Sweet Charity' by Chris Harris
  28. ^ Youtube - Mesothelioma Research Fundraiser | Summer Music Bash Trailer
  29. ^ AllMusic - Jill Armsbury, Credits
  30. ^ AllMusic - Andreu Johnny Almendra, Reconfirmando
  31. ^ Musica!: The Rhythm of Latin America - Salsa, Rumba, Merengue, and More, Sue Steward - Page 170
  32. ^ AllMusic - Jill Armsbury, Credits
  33. ^ Discogs - Los Jóvenes Del Barrio – iEs Differente!
  34. ^ AllMusic - Mongo Santamaria, Olé Ola
  35. ^ Schwann Spectrum, Volume 1, Issues 2-3 - Page 254, Page 245
  36. ^ AllMusic - Various Artists, RMM 10th Anniversary Concert, Track Listing - Disc 2
  37. ^ All lossless- Funk Filharmonik - Everybody Get Down (2008), Invited musicians:

External links [ edit ]

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