Miss Joanie is a popular Cincinnati-based children’s entertainer and musician. She gets tremendous joy from involving children of all ages in an interactive, memorable music making experience. Her first album won City Beat's Best of Cincinnati Kid's CD Award, and she just finished up her new album When the Sun Shines, due for a summer 2018 release.
Once upon a time a little girl wrote in her 4th grade journal, “My favorite singers are John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, and sometimes Jackson Five. When I grow up, I want to be a singer and write my own songs, with a little help from my friends.” That's just what Joanie Whittaker has done. According to her mother, she has been singing since the crib, and writing catchy songs since the age of nine.
After graduating from high school in Bowling Green, Ohio, Joanie spent three years in Helsinki, Finland. There she became a member of a rock band, Joan Shark and The Finns. The only fluent English speaker in the group, she was given the task of writing all the songs. The band experienced some minor success, and finished as a runner-up in the Finnish Song Contest, part of the European Song Contest through which bands like ABBA found their fame.
Returning home, Joanie settled in New York City for 11 years. She taught at the prestigious Calhoun School, where as a floating substitute for all grades she began a lifelong admiration and respect for children.
It was in New York that she picked up the guitar, and began honing her performing skills in the clubs of Greenwich Village. After settling back in Ohio, Joanie began teaching music to toddlers and preschoolers. While helping a group of little ones potty train, she began making up songs to help the kids with that childhood transition. With the additional encouragement and musical contributions of Grammy nominated children’s entertainer Zak Morgan, her first children’s album, Miss Joanie’s Potty Party was born. Critics and audiences alike loved the album, which is still available through CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, and other streaming sites.
While playing for kids in Cincinnati, Joanie also found time to record and release four albums with her indie rock band the Cla-Zels, who have earned rave reviews for their records. Now with her focus once again on her beloved children’s music, she has just finished up her new album When the Sun Shines. It's an acoustic collection of fourteen heartfelt tunes that bears the appropriate subtitle "Songs of love, laughter and learning."
Ultimately, Joanie hopes to instill in her audience an appreciation for what music can bring to our lives, while demonstrating its value of community. She gets to do this in a sometimes silly and fun, but always poignant and relatable way. Her shows consist of mostly original music, and are geared to appeal to kids and adults of all ages. "Miss Joanie" has a strong educational and outreach component to her work, having performed for many years in schools and libraries as often as she has on stage.
“I have learned more from working with children than from anything else,” said Joanie. “My profound respect for kids is the driving force behind how I live my life.”
TESTIMONIALS ABOUT MISS JOANIE
“Miss Joanie was so much fun! She interacted with the children, she was very expressive, and the children responded well to her performance. Her show was very positive and upbeat, constantly moving so the children felt involved. I highly recommend Joanie for your event!”
— JD Hughes, On Air Entertainment
“Joanie brought great enthusiasm and her genuine love of music to our event! She innately knew how to engage all of the children with her performance and ensured that everyone (with or without disabilities) were active participants. Joanie was the highlight of our event!"
— Sarah Fister-Brewer, Chairperson 2q23.1 Awareness Day
“In a sea of dumbed-down children’s CDs, Potty Party stands out. Whittaker commandingly utilizes a plethora of styles (from ’50’s Rock ’n Roll and Bluegrass to Swing and Reggae), and the songwriting and production is top notch, making it a step above the rote simplicity you’ll find in most kids’ music. “Adult-friendly” is a key selling point these days for kids’ music, and Whittaker says she definitely had that in mind.”
— Mike Breen, Cincinnati CityBeat