My new album, Church Boy, stems from my time as a young and eager boy who wanted to play a part in music ministry," states Joyner, who grew up in a household dominated by Gospel music. Church Boy reflects the Virginia-born saxophonist's deep roots in ministry. My music career is a testament to how God will bless you and how he will bring you out of something...you will come out much stronger."
The album is a transparent and honest testament of Joyner's faith. After graduating from high school, Joyner moved from upstate New York back to Virginia, and found himself with no money, no job and homeless. For almost six months, Joyner lived from shelter to shelter, sometimes staying with a friend. His Pastor helped him get on track by helping him find a job and an apartment. Thinking his difficulties were over, Joyner was shocked to find himself once again homeless in just a few short months. It was the same situation, shelter to shelter, eventually hitting rock bottom and living in his car.
I found myself praying a lot because these were very difficult times," recalls Joyner. No one knew I slept in my car for a month. I learned that if I didn't experience those hard times, I believe my character would have been different. I don't think I would have become the strong Christian that I am now. I don't believe there is anything too hard for God, and I don't believe there will be anything that will shake my faith again."
Church Boy reaches back to Joyner's roots and reignites his faith bringing together his beloved jazz and his foundational gospel music. This is reflected in the varying styles, from the whimsical sound evident on the Kirk Franklin cover of I Smile" (joined by jazz great Kirk Whalum), to the theatrical on the universally popular hymn Jesus Loves Me." Joyner also throws in some rock-and-roll and pop with nods to Toby Mac on the moving City On Our Knees," the up-tempo favorite You Are Good" by Israel Houghton, and the compelling Bless The Lord (Son Of Man)," a Tye Tribbett classic with Jonathan Butler on lead acoustic guitar.
One of my favorite songs that meant so much to me during a tough time in my life," says Joyner, is the Percy Bady-penned 'Still I Rise,' beautifully recorded originally by the incomparable Yolanda Adams. It was important for me to record that song. The anointing came and took over the instrument as I was playing and I could feel the presence of God."
The fusion of the two distinct genres of jazz and gospel flow seamlessly on Church Boy, and the popular saxophonist, endearingly nicknamed 'Lil Man Soul,' makes clear his connection to Gospel music.
Born in 1980 in Norfolk VA, Joyner inherited some of his musical gifts from his professional bassist father, but grew up in a single parent household and developed most of his musical sensibilities from singing in the church choir and playing the drums. After high school he moved back to Virginia, where Bishop Michael Patterson of the World Harvest Outreach Ministries in Newport News made him head of the music department. Joyner participated in many outreach services including mission trips to Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
Eventually Joyner relocated to California and caught the attention of iconic trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliott who immediately signed him to their record label Artizen Music. There, Joyner released his first international album, Babysoul, and was named 2007 Debut Artist of the Year by Smooth Jazz News.
Since signing with Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records, Joyner has enjoyed a successful smooth jazz career, spawning two #1 singles from Lil Man Soul on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz charts. His hit song 'I'm Waiting For You' topped the smooth jazz radio charts for an incredible 12 weeks, the longest running #1 single of the year, and was named Song Of The Year at the 2009 American Smooth Jazz Awards. The second single, 'Take Me There,' was released in early 2010 and also went to the #1 spot on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart, remaining there for 6 consecutive weeks. His followup album, Jackiem Joyner, a funk/pop/groove mix featuring Paul Jackson, Jr. on guitar, enjoyed great success with the Latin flavored single 'Dance With Me' and the high-energy motivational song 'Push,' which reached #3 and #2, respectively, on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Song chart.
Joyner is a Yamaha performing artist and just completed a 20-city US tour with internationally renowned keyboardist Keiko Matsui, and is currently on a 10-city promotional tour for his Church Boy CD release.