Joe Henry

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Joe Henry
Joe Henry at The Garfield House.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Lee Henry
OriginUnited States
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, musician, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1986–present
LabelsProfile, Mammoth, ANTI-
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For the baseball player, see Joe Henry (baseball).
Joe Henry
Joe Henry at The Garfield House.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Lee Henry
OriginUnited States
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, musician, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1986–present
LabelsProfile, Mammoth, ANTI-

Joseph Lee "Joe" Henry (born December 2, 1960) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and Grammy award winning producer. He has released 12 studio albums and produced multiple recordings for other artists.[1]

Early life[edit]

Henry was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, grew up in the Detroit, Michigan area, and graduated from the University of Michigan.


1985 to 2005[edit]

Henry moved to Brooklyn, NY in 1985 and began performing in local music venues. He released his first album "Talk of Heaven" in 1986. The album earned him a recording contract with A&M, which subsequently released the albums Murder of Crows in 1989 and Shuffletown in 1990.[2] Shuffletown, produced by T-Bone Burnett, represented a shift in musical direction towards the "alt country" genre.[citation needed] Henry’s next two recordings, Short Man's Room (1992) and Kindness of the World (1993), utilized members of the country-rock band the Jayhawks. The song "King's Highway" was later recorded by Joan Baez.[citation needed] For his 1996 album Trampoline, Henry incorporated guitarist Page Hamilton of Helmet and a reviewer at Trouserpress called the album "idiosyncratic broadmindedness." [3]

1999's Fuse was recorded with producers Daniel Lanois and T-Bone Burnett. The album was called an "atmospheric marvel" by one reviewer[4] and Ann Powers of the New York Times wrote: Henry has "found the sound that completes his verbal approach."[5]

Scar, released in 2001, featured jazz musicians Marc Ribot, Brian Blade, Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Ornette Coleman on "Richard Pryor Addresses A Tearful Nation." According to Allmusic's Thom Jurek, the album is a "triumph not only for Henry—who has set a new watermark for himself—but for American popular music, which so desperately needed something else to make it sing again." [1]

2003's self-produced Tiny Voices album was Henry's first recording on Epitaph's Anti label. Jurek described this album as "the sound of....electric guitars in an abandoned yet fully furnished Tiki bar in Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles." [2]

Henry's wife talked him into letting her send Madonna a demo of his song "Stop," which was reworked and recorded as "Don't Tell Me" (from Madonna's 2000 album Music). Henry's own tango-tinged version of the song appeared on Scar and was featured in an episode of "The Sopranos." Henry and his sister-in-law recorded a duet, "Guilty By Association," on the charity album Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, and collaborated on the songs "Jump" on Confessions on a Dance Floor, "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" on Hard Candy, and "Falling Free" on MDNA.

In the early 2000s, Henry was an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards' judging panel to support independent artists.[6]

2006 to present[edit]

After producing the Grammy-award-winning album Don't Give Up on Me by Solomon Burke,[7] Henry produced additional records and in 2006 opened up a home studio where he often collaborates with recording engineer Ryan Freeland and Los Angeles-based musicians such as Jay Bellerose, Greg Leisz, David Piltch, Patrick Warren and Keefus Ciancia.[8] In September 2006, Henry and Loudon Wainwright III began composing the music for the Judd Apatow movie Knocked Up in Henry's home studio. Some instrumentals were used as background score for the film while other songs appeared on Wainwright's 2007 Strange Weirdos which Henry produced.

In 2007, Henry released Civilians, which was described as "a rich, acoustic affair that returns us to Henry's rootsier sounds".[9] The final track on the album, "God Only Knows," was used in a "TCM Remembers 2008" TV commercial. Bonnie Raitt's 2012 album Slipstream, which Henry produced, contained versions of two songs from Civilians.

In 2009, Henry released his ninth solo record, Blood From Stars which incorporates orchestral blues with guitarist Marc Ribot, pianist Jason Moran and his son on saxophone. The album focuses on facets of blues with a sprinkling of jazz, rock and pop and traces the rugged history of American storytelling.”[10]

In May 2011, Henry released the album Reverie with simple acoustic instrumention on guitar, upright bass, piano and drums.[11] "When you listen to Reverie, especially on headphones, you can hear traffic in the background or a neighbor calling her dog. It's not always a pristine recording environment. Henry not only left the windows open at his basement studio, but also put microphones on them."[12] "But there was this singer-songwriter environment, this post-Dylan fallout, of people who think that pages of your diary set to music are songs, and that the more 'honest' songs are, the better they are. And that's the greatest misconception of American popular music: that if you're being honest, you're being entertaining."[13]


Henry has been described as "a modest-selling 'critic’s darling' with a reputation for pushing the envelope"[14] and who writes "songs [that] don’t fit into an easily defined box"[15] and instead draws influence from folk, blues, jazz, rock and country.

Personal life[edit]

Since 1987 Henry has been married to Madonna's sister Melanie Ciccone and they have two children.[16]

In 2013, Henry and his brother David released a biography of Richard Pryor, titled Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him.


Production Credits
2014Joe HenryInvisible hourearMUSICRecording Artist/Singer/Songwriter/Producer.
2013Over the RhineMeet Me at the Edge of the WorldGreat Speckled DogProducer.
2013Hugh LaurieDidn't It RainWarner Bros.Producer.
2013Billy BraggTooth & NailCooking VinylProducer.
2012Natalie DuncanDevil In MeVerveProducer.
2012Rodney Crowell/Mary KarrKinVanguardProducer.

Included guests: Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristoferson, Norah Jones,

Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, & Lucinda Williams.

2012Bonnie RaittSlipstreamRedwingProducer.

Writer/Co-Writer of several songs.

2011Meshell NdegeocelloWeatherNaiveProducer & Co-writer on several songs.
2011Joe HenryReverieANTI-Recording Artist/Singer/Songwriter/Producer.
2011Lisa HanniganPassengerATOProducer.
2011Hugh LaurieLet Them TalkWarnerProducer.

Included guest musicians: Tom Jones, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, & others

2011Over the RhineThe Long SurrenderGreat Speckled DogProducer.

Co-writer on two songs: “Sharpest Blade” & “Soon”.

2010Aaron NevilleI Know I’ve Been ChangedTell It RecordsProducer.

Included guest musician Allen Toussaint.

2010Mose AllisonThe Way of the WorldANTI-Producer & Co-writer w/ Mose on the title track.
2009Joe HenryBlood From StarsANTI-Recording Artist/Singer/Songwriter/Producer.

Featured the song “Stars”, which was originally written for HBO’s Six Feet Under.

Also featured guest musician Jason Moran.

2009Carolina Chocolate DropsGenuine Negro JigNonesuchProducer.

Grammy winning record.

2009Ramblin’ Jack ElliottA Stranger HereANTI-Producer.

Grammy Winning Record.

2009Salif KeitaLa DifferénceUniversal ClassicsProducer.
2009Allen ToussaintThe Bright MississippiNonesuchProducer.

Grammy Nominated record.

Featured musicians Joshua Redman, Nicholas Payton,

Brad Mehldau, Don Byron, & others.

2008Loudon Wainwright IIIRecoveryYep RocProducer.
2008Rodney CrowellSex and GasolineWork SongProducer.

Grammy Nominated Record.

2007Joe HenryCiviliansANTI-Recording Artist/Songwriter/Producer.

Featured guest musicians Bill Frisell, Van Dyke Parks, & Loudon Wainwright III.

2007Loudon Wainwright IIIStrange WeirdosConcordsProducer.

Wrote 4 of the songs.

Music written for and to accompany the film Knocked Up.

2007Mary GauthierBetween Daylight and DarkLost HighwayProducer.
2006Elvis Costello/Allen ToussaintThe River in ReverseVerveProducer.
2005Various ArtistsOur New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf CoastNonesuchCo-Producer.

Artists included: Allen Toussaint, Dr. John,

Irma Thomas, Randy Newman, Buckwheat Zydeco,

Dirty Dozen Brass Band, & others.

2005Various ArtistsI Believe To My SoulWork SongProducer.

Artists included: Mavis Staples, Billy Preston,

Ann Peebles, Irma Thomas, & Allen Toussaint.

2005Bettye LaVetteI’ve Got My Own Hell to RaiseANTI-Producer.
2005Susan TedeschiHope and DesireVerveProducer.

Grammy Nominated Record.

Featured the Blind Boys of Alabama.

2005Aimee MannThe Forgotten ArmSuperEgoProducer.
2004Ani DiFrancoKnuckle DownRighteous BabeCo-Producer.
2004Jim WhiteDrill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You SeeLuaka BopProducer (7 tracks).

Featured guest musician Aimee Mann.

2003Joe HenryTiny VoicesANTI-Recording Artist/Songwriter/Producer.

Guests musicians Don Byron & Ron Miles among others.

2002Solomon BurkeDon't Give Up on MeFat PossumProducer.

Grammy Winning Record.

2002John DoeDim Stars, Bright SkyArtist DirectProducer.
2001Joe HenryScarMammothRecording Artist/Songwriter/Co-Producer w/ Craig Street.

Featured guest musicians Ornette Coleman, Brian Blade,

Brad Mehldau, Marc Ribot, & Meshell Ndegeocello.

The song “Stop” was featured on the HBO television show The Sopranos,

and was covered by Madonna under the title "Don’t Tell Me".

2000Teddy ThompsonTeddy ThompsonVirginProducer

Featured guest musicians: Richard Thompson, Jon Brion,

Rufus Wainwright, Emmylou Harris, & others.

1999Joe HenryFuseMammothRecording Artist/Songwriter/Producer.

Featured guest musicians: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jakob Dylan, & Daniel Lanois.

1999ShivareeI Oughtta Give You a Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in This DumpCapitolProducer.
1998Kristin HershStrange AngelsRykodiscProducer.
1996Joe HenryTrampolineMammothRecording Artist/Songwriter/Co-Producer.

Co-Produced w/ Patrick McCarthy.

1994Joe HenryFireman's WeddingMammothRecording Artist/Songwriter/Producer.

Featured members of The Jayhawks.

1993Joe HenryKindness of the WorldMammothRecording Artist/Songwriter/Producer.

Featured members of The Jayhawks.

1992Joe HenryShort Man’s RoomMammoth RecordsRecording Artist/Songwriter/Producer.

The song “King’s Highway” was covered by Joan Baez.

Featured members of The Jayhawks.

1991Bruce CockburnNothing But a Burning LightColumbiaProduction associate to T Bone Burnett.
1990Joe HenryShuffletownMammothRecording Artist/Songwriter.

Featured musicians Don Cherry & Cecil McBee.

Produced by T Bone Burnett.

1989Joe HenryMurder of CrowsMammothRecording Artist/Songwriter.

String arrangements by Van Dyke Parks.

1986Joe HenryTalk of HeavenAstor PlaceCo-Producer w/ Keith Anderson.
Film Credits
YearArtistFilm & Track or ScoreFilm StudioNotes
2010Various ArtistsPassion Play (select backing tracks)Annapurna ProductionsProducer & Songwriter of "Orphan in this World".

Artists included Christian Scott, Little Jimmy Scott, Aaron Neville,

Allen Toussaint, & Solomon Burke among others.

2010Gwyneth PaltrowCountry Strong (select song)Sony PicturesProducer.
2009Joe HenryMotherhood (original score)John Wells ProductionsComposer/Producer.
2007Joe Henry & Loudon Wainwright IIIKnocked Up (original score)Apatow ProductionsCo-Composer/Producer .
2007Various ArtistsI'm Not There soundtrackCelluloid DreamsProducer.

Artists included Richie Havens, Marcus Carl Franklin, & John Doe

2000Joe HenryJesus' Son (original score)Alliance Atlantis/Evenstar FilmsComposer/Producer/Engineer.
Songwriting Credits
2012Madonna"Falling Free"/MDNAInterscope RecordsCo-Writer w/ William Orbit, Laurie Mayer & Madonna.
2009Madeleine Peyroux"Love and Treachery"/Bare BonesRounder RecordsCo-Writer w/ Madeleine Peyroux & Larry Klein.
2008Madonna"Devil Wouldn't Recognize You"/Hard CandyWarner Bros.Co-Writer w/ Timbaland, Danja, Justin Timberlake & Madonna.
2006Madonna"Jump"/Confessions on a Dance FloorWarner Bros.Co-Writer w/ Stuart Price & Madonna.
2003Rosanne Cash"Hope Against Hope"/Rules of TravelCapitolCo-Writer w/ Jakob Dylan.
2000Madonna"Don't Tell Me"/MusicWarner Bros.Co-Writer w/ Mirwais Ahmadzaï & Madonna.
Other Projects
2007Jakob Dylan"Whispering Pines"/Endless Highway: The Music of The BandSavoy JazzProducer.
2004Joe Henry/Ann Peebles"Until You Came Into My Life"/SweetheartsHear MusicDuet Vocals/Producer.
2003Sam Phillips"Wedding in Cherokee County"/(unreleased)(unreleased)Producer.
1999Meshell Ndegeocello"Wasted Time"/BitterMaverickDuet vocals.

Also features musicians Doyle Bramhall II, Lisa Coleman, and others.

1996Joe Henry/Madonna"Guilty by Association"/Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the SituationColumbiaDuet Vocals/Co-Producer.
1992Spinal Tap"Rainy Day Sun"/Break Like the WindMCAProduction Associate.


  1. ^ Unknown (Nov 10 2011)Joe Henry and Eclectic and Raucous Reverie NPR, retrieved June 30, 2012
  2. ^ "". Joe Henry Biography. 
  3. ^ Joe Henry Trouserpress
  4. ^ Moerer, Keith. "Fuse ( description)". 
  5. ^ Powers, Ann (March 16, 1999). "Pop Review; When the Main Event is Metaphor, t's Easy to Get Lost.". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Independent Music Awards - Past Judges
  7. ^ "(Grammy official website)". 
  8. ^ Schultz, Barbara. "Meshell Ndegeocello". Electronic Musician. 
  9. ^ Marshall, Claudia. "Joe Henry Returns to His Roots". National Public Radio. 
  10. ^ "Joe Henry: Feeling a Darkness". National Public Radio. 
  11. ^ "Reverie: Album Credits". AllMusicGuide. 
  12. ^ "Joe Henry's Raw, Raucous 'Reverie'". National Public Radio. 
  13. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony. "Regarding (joe) Henry". Orlando Sentinel. 
  14. ^ Scoppa, Bud. "Production Notes: Joe Henry". Paste Magazine. 
  15. ^ Whitman, Andy. "A Very Personal, Highly Idiosyncratic Musical Overview of the Aughts". Paste Magazine. 
  16. ^ Joe Henry Iceberg Radio

External links[edit]