Joni Crawford, a native of Detroit, Michigan, has always had a passion for music. She attended Wayne State University & Art Center Music School with aspirations of becoming a classical vocalist and music teacher. While attending a performance by the late Sarah Vaughn at The Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival, she heard Jimmy Wilkins’ 17 piece orchestra and began her love affair with Jazz. Soon after the festival, Crawford gained an opportunity to audition for the orchestra, eventually securing her spot in the band. This grand audition set the stage and sparked her blooming career as a Jazz vocalist. Crawford remained feature vocalist with the Jimmy Wilkins Orchestra until 1994, in the following year, performing as the lead in her own group “Jazzeray” at The Montreux Jazz Festival in Detroit.
Still a student to her trade, Crawford expanded her vocal education by attending several Jazz study programs; “Jazz in July” at University of Massachusetts and Clark Terry-Jazz Study Camp at Westmier University of Lamar, Iowa. Joni finished her studies and received a revered award for “Most Outstanding Vocalist”.
Ms. Crawford was tapped by Martha Reeves (of Martha & The Vandellas), to join the National Tour of Fats Waller’s “Aint Misbehavin”. Ms. Crawford portrayed the role of “Armelia”, receiving rave reviews for her blossoming talent as she performed throughout the country. Keeping her feet wet, Ms Crawford’s talents has led her to tour in Japan as well as open for respected artists, such as, Ramsey Lewis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Betty Carter, Joe Henderson, and Freda Payne, just to name a few.
Her first debut as a singer in a movie was “Detroit Comedy Jam-The Movie”, under Musical Director, Joe LaDuca. Ms. Crawford’s acting debut came later with the works of “The Door,” “Gullah Tales,” and “Mrs. Grace Mattox” all performed at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.