From Detroit, MI hails percussionist, songwriter, and 2011 3Arts Teaching Artist Awardee JoVia Ljiljana Armstrong. JoVia began studying percussion as a high school freshman. She enrolled at Michigan State University as a percussion performance major where she continued to perform and study orchestral percussion. As a sophomore she began to study African Cuban percussion and drum set with performer and educator Francisco Mora-Catlett. She also studied and performed with various on-campus ensembles such as African drumming & dance, Latin Jazz, and also Korean drumming. After 3 years she transferred to Columbia College in Chicago where she soon met flautist Nicole Mitchell and became a member of Mithcell’s Black Earth Ensemble.
After earning a B.A. in Music Business at Columbia College Chicago, she quickly relocated back to Motown in 2002. Since her move back to Motown, she has performed with various artists such as El DeBarge, Martha Reeves, Omar, Frank McComb, Joe VasConcellos, RES, Alison Crockett, Angela Johnson, Maysa, Rahsaan Patterson, Eric Robeson, Gordon Chambers, Conya Doss, Althea Rene, Nadir, Wendell Harrison, Gayelynn McKinney and more. She played Cajon (box drum) for the “Tour of the Americas 2004”. The group performed original and traditional songs of Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Argentina. She has also performed with various artists opening shows for such acts as Warren Hill, Kindred the Family Soul, Thomas Mapfumo, Gerald Albright and The Bad Plus. She has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Amp Fiddler, Trey Anastacio and Michael Franti & Spearhead.
Currently, JoVia lives in Chicago and is composing songs for her World Jazz group, Musique Noire. The group was nominated for two Detroit Music Awards in 2009, 2010, and 2011 for Outstanding Jazz Recording (“Good Hair”) & Outstanding World/ Reggae Group. JoVia received an individual nomination for Outstanding World/ Reggae Instrumentalist. She is a regular lesson contributor for TomTom Magazine and has released several lesson videos on YouTube. Her debut album consisting of jazzy electronic grooves, “Fuzzy Blue Robe Chronicles,” was released in 2009. Her music can be found at www.joviamusic.com and www.musiquenoire.com.