Starlet: Joy T Barnum will be making her debut theatre performance on October 10 at City Hall Theatre. She will play Bloody Mary in the classic musical South Pacific. The show runs until October 19. Visit for information. *Photo supplied
Starlet: Joy T Barnum will be making her debut theatre performance on October 10 at City Hall Theatre. She will play Bloody Mary in the classic musical South Pacific. The show runs until October 19. Visit for information. *Photo supplied

Joy T Barnum is a self-described daughter of ‘hippy and missionary parents’ and her vocals encompass the passion, richness and complexity of her personal experience. Joy’s culturally diverse background is reflected in the range of her musical styles from rock to country, gospel, jazz and opera.

She most recently, performed at the John Lennon Tribute Concerts that took place in Bermuda and will be making her debut theatre appearance as Bloody Mary in the upcoming Gilbert & Sullivan production of South Pacific. An articulate poet and classically trained vocalist, Joy was encouraged to transform her poetry into song by music producer and musical collaborator, Thaao Dill, and hasn’t looked back since.

The pinnacle of her singing career came in 2010 when she was asked to open for mentor and world-renowned Bermudian singer-songwriter, Heather Nova, on her European acoustic tour. Joy opened to thousands of music lovers across 13 European cities in sold out venues, receiving regular standing ovations. This experience led her to set her sights on spearheading her own tour in the near future.

She currently teaches vocals at The Bermuda School of Music and holds a degree in Vocal Performance/Pedagogy from Oakwood University. Joy has recorded four studio albums and one live album.

What were you like in school?

I’ve always been an individual. Period. I remember Travis Caines, an upper class man, gently pushing me out of the way at the water fountain. He said, “’Scuse me, little girl.”  I was all of seven. I put my hands on my hips and said, “I am not a little girl, I’m a woman!” Hahahahahaha! See? I laugh every day.

If you were given a million dollars tomorrow what would you do with it?

I’d put an addition onto my mommy’s house, pay for my twin two week old nieces’ college tuition, buy my sister and her husband their dream house, invest a chunk and then go on tour with the rest!

Your earliest memory?

Heehee. I was two and living on the Peet’s property. I remember my parents using our bunk bed ladder to pick cherries; I remember my sister and I strapped in the back of our parents’ bicycles for family rides; and I definitely remember using the bathroom in the neighbours toilet... That’s memorable because the toilet was outside... In their yard... To be discarded... It wasn’t number one and I was perplexed as to where they kept the tissue! Haha!

Who is your hero/heroine?

My mommy and my sister.

Human trait you value most in others?

Consideration. The ability to consider other people in decision making. I see that everyday at Rock Island. From the top, down. It’s an awesome place to be!

Which cartoon character would you be?

I don’t watch cartoons much but if there’s a combination of She-ra, Wonder Woman, MacGuyver, Tonto, Roosevelt Brown and Foxy Brown, that’d be me.

Do you believe in fate?

I believe in the moon, does that count as fate? I guess I believe that the mind is powerful enough to incite action. Is that fate, I don’t know.

Your greatest fear?

Failure... With a dash of never trying.

Most embarrassing moment?

Gosh, there are soooo many! Most of that is just me rethinking conversations in my head and dying a little inside at my responses. I don’t really get conventionally embarrassed often. Oh wait! The first time I sang at Harbour Nights as an Idol Artist I didn’t have wardrobe all sorted out like I do now. Let’s just say that the “behind stage” personnel got an eye full!

Your ultimate ambition?

To make a living doing what I love.

Your most unappealing habit?

Self doubt. It’s a habit.

Describe yourself in three words

Empathetic, spontaneous and appreciative

Which human trait do you dislike the most?

Ugh... Disrespect inclusive of lying.

Best party you’ve ever been to?

Every party I’ve ever danced at!

Anyone you’d like to say ‘sorry’ to?

My grandmother. I’m really tough on her. She’s tough on me out of love. I’m tough right back in retaliation. 

Worst job you’ve ever done?

Scrubbed a restaurant’s toilets and the base of their machines on hand and knee with a plastic knife and detergent. It was my Sunday at 6:30am High School job.

Biggest regret?

I don’t have any. I have lots of poems and songs about the hideous and heart wrenching things I’ve experienced but they honestly make me, me!

Closest you’ve ever come to death?

Which time? At three I fell off of Holiday Inn’s second or third story balcony and had my brain swell (I was laughing at the time, I’m always laughing.) I’ve also sworn myself off of late nights because I never fall asleep at the wheel, I just have fortunately woken up before hitting walls and oncoming traffic. (I don’t drink, never have, but I’m generally exhausted from my chosen lifestyle).

Your desert island song?

 I Cast All My Cares from Psalty the Singing Songbook.

What animal would you be and why?

Seahorse!! They’re soooo beautiful and unique and the lady knocks up the dude! It’s so perfect heh heh.

What do you do if you can’t sleep?

I usually write all the ideas down on paper that won’t go away. If that doesn’t work, I vacuum and clean until I’m good and tired.

If you had a time machine, where would you go?

I hope to goodness that’s never an option for me! I love the 70’s and consider myself an old soul, but I dare say you’d have never heard of me! I would have been dead due to my mouth and fierce  protection of freedom for everyone inclusive of race and sexual preference.

Your most memorable dream?

It was pretty bad. My parents abandoned me. I was crying in my sleep. My daddy and sister had to wake me.

Best advice you have ever taken?

That my body at 15 was the best I was ever gonna look. I take that with me and dress however I wish I felt that day. Even if I’m having a bad image day, I know it’s all in my perception.

If you weren’t a singer what would you be?

Man, that’s tough. I was offered a scholarship to Florida’s Fashion Institute and I loooove HGTV and interior design, but I originally wanted to be an Emergency Room nurse; blood and everything!

What do you like best about your appearance? 

Hahahahahaha! I suppose my enormous smile.

What do you most dislike about you appearance?

When I’m in a bad space that list is looong and covers everything. 

Nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?

People say beautiful things all the time. At Gorham’s a few months ago a stranger complimented my sneakers and sparkly skirt and said I looked like so much fun. I liked that. 

Define romantic love.

Surprises... Quiet... Cozy... A willingness to share each other’s families because family is so important to me.

What’s your best joke?

Anything irreverent really. 

Most treasured possession?

A lock of my father’s ponytail, my mother’s Gunny Sac dress, my sisters drawings, sketches and interview in California when she was 16 and my Grandfather’s house.

A dream location for a home?

Bermuda, Belize and Zurich.

What keeps you up at night?

Fear and worry. And cold! I hate being cold! If my feet are cold, I can’t sleep.

Guilty pleasure?

Biting my nails, pop music and ‘tween’ movies. Ooh! And the movie Glitter! Loved it!

Favourite film?

Of Mice and Men, Dancer in the Dark, La Reine de Margot, The Emperor and the Assassin, Bridget Jones Diary

Your proudest achievement?

Getting standing ovations when opening for Heather Nova in Europe, swimming to Paget Island to be at my grandmother’s birthday because I made a promise and I had to sing the night before and there was no boat to bring me across.

Most important lesson life has taught you?

Family is important, not every family member is trustworthy, your friends are your family, know the difference between friends, familiars and acquaintances, focus on the positive, don’t forget the negative or you’ll just keep experiencing it until you remember, be able to shut up and listen, speak up for yourself and take time to treat yourself properly.

What would you most like to be remembered for?