Since Fred and I spend most of our time together, I’m fascinated by how married artists balance the call of their creativity, the demands of everyday life, and how they got together in the first place.
Accomplished musicians most of their lives, Joselyn Wilkinson and Don Barrozo see their gifts as a powerful way to share truth, build community, and connect with audiences. Don, a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer with many album credits, also serves as film editor for television’s long-running animated series The Simpsons.
Joselyn founded the legendary women’s global fusion band ADAAWE, which toured extensively, released two albums, and appeared with luminaries such as Stevie Wonder and LeAnn Rimes. For the past nine years, Joselyn has been working for the Grand Vision Foundation, supporting music education, live events, and their amazing work in the community.
I asked Joselyn some questions about their origin story.
How did you and Don meet?
Don and I both grew up in the beautiful state of Montana, in towns joined by the Missouri River, and we met in Venice, Calif. in the early 2000s in a community of musicians and artists. I think we jammed together at a mutual friend’s party before we ever officially met!
How did you decide to create music together?
Once we discovered we shared a common birthplace, a spark was lit. We have been making music together since day one, but not necessarily as a duo. I was writing and performing original music while also playing percussion and singing with ADAAWE. Don, a multi-instrumentalist, was playing trumpet with many artists and bands. He arranged horn parts and produced my solo singer-songwriter album in 2009, and I played percussion on his solo jazz album, Blue Talk.
It wasn’t until 2017 that we decided the best way to interpret my songs and the new music we were writing together was as a duo. Our garage is now our ‘garden studio,’ and we’ve released two albums as Joselyn & Don — our full-length debut Soar and our EP Seeds & Bones, played dozens of shows together, and are recording a new project. We’ve really grown over the past few years in this folk/Americana genre and have many unique and personal stories to tell.
Did your families encourage you to be artists?
Don’s father was a professional bandleader, so he grew up in a musical household and was always encouraged to follow his passions. My family knows that an artist’s path is not an easy one, but they have always been supportive of my artistic leanings and like coming to see us perform.
We realized a long time ago that no matter what other work we do, we’re not truly happy without an avenue for self-expression through music and performance. We’re artists at our core.
How do you juggle your other work and family commitments?
We balance full working lives along with our music, but we’re lucky that our jobs are creative, too. Don is the editor for the legendary animated show The Simpsons, so obviously, he loves his job.
And we make sure we’re there for our teenage son to support his interests and performances. He’s a great violinist now, and we love to see him taking pride in his musicianship. We also visit our grown daughter and her family in Montana as often as we can and spend time with relatives. It’s important to us to stay grounded in where we came from, especially since it’s the source of so much of our musical inspiration!
Any advice for budding musicians?
Nothing is more important than honing your craft, learning your instrument, mastering your technique, and finding your voice. Equally important is living a full life, having healthy relationships, traveling, and experiencing the fullness of life and of the world.
Growing a network of like-minded people is vital because they will grow with you and support your work. Along the way, some musicians get really lucky, some get really good, and some get both.
When and where are you performing in 2024?
We are focused on writing and recording right now, so please sign up on our website email list at joselynanddon.com and follow us on social media, so that we can share our upcoming shows with you!
We just released a new live video of one of the songs we’ll be recording this year, “Workin’ the Hi-Line” — check it out on our [YouTube channel, Joselyn & Don].
And we’ll be supporting the amazing Abby Posner at the Grand Annex Music Hall here in San Pedro on May 4, 2024. spt