Growing up in the '70s and '80s in Akron, Ohio, Joseph Arthur's musical life started off like many others, with mandatory piano lessons. But once he realized he could use the piano to conjure up his own musical worlds, he took to the instrument and began writing songs, eventually playing in bands while in high school. Days after graduation, he moved to Atlanta with a band, playing bass and supporting himself with day jobs at a music store and tattoo shop.
At the time, Arthur aspired to be a world-class jazz or fusion bass player in the vein of the late Jaco Pastorius. But when a demo tape of Arthur's songs made its way to Peter Gabriel, it was the lyrics that attracted Peter, as he realized the talented songwriter was a great fit for his label Real World Records.
Within a few months Arthur was signed and Big City Secrets was recorded at Real World Studios with Marcus Dravs (Bjork, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons) producing the album, released in 1997. Two years later, he recorded an EP called Vacancy, followed in 2000 by Come To Where I'm From, which features his signature song, 'In the Sun'. That track was covered by R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Coldplay's Chris Martin in 2006 on a charity single to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina, having previously been recorded a decade earlier by Gabriel for a Princess Diana tribute album.
After releasing 4 EPs called Junkyard Hearts, his third album, called Redemption's Son, came out in May 2002.
Big City Secrets, Come To Where I'm From and Junkyard Hearts are now available as part of the Real World Gold series of repackaged reissues.
Joseph returns to Real World Records to release the double album, The Ballad of Boogie Christ in September 2013.
For every song Joseph Arthur has released, he's probably kept three others in the vault for safekeeping. Indeed, Arthur has been known to start working on a new album -- or two -- while simultaneously trying to finish another.
It was amid this abundance of riches that Joseph began moulding a collection of music under a single narrative thread: The Ballad of Boogie Christ, described by Arthur as "a fictionalized character loosely based on my own journey."
The Ballad of Boogie Christ has become another essential cornerstone of Arthur's robust discography. Encompassing sessions put to tape in upstate New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Arthur's own Brooklyn studio, the 24-song double album showcases the artist's signature rich storytelling set to a diverse range of rock'n'roll.
Previously nominated for a best recording package Grammy for his 1999 EP Vacancy, Arthur is an accomplished painter, having displayed his works in galleries around the world. His online-only Museum of Modern Arthur museumofmodernarthur.com serves as a repository for his creations. He is also a prolific writer, principally of poetry but has also written a children's book!