Joy Shannon is the recording, performing and visual artist front-woman of the Southern California-based band "Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks" and the UK-based "Joy Shannon and the Offering". Joy is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who plays Celtic harp, cello, accordion, harmonium, organ and piano. Joy’s songwriting style has been compared to Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave with her sound being likened to Sarah McLachlan and PJ Harvey.
Joy is a true mixed-media artist and performer who has explored her creative ideas in writing, theatre and the visual arts, delving into printmaking, figurative painting, theatrical design, music composition for theatre, acting and filmmaking. Joy has written and directed her own music videos and short films featuring her music and acting. Her visual art often graces the covers of her albums.
Joy's stage name is Joy Shannon but her full name, Joy Marie Aingeal Aimhirghin Shannon, sounds more like a royal title and reveals her ancestry and destiny. Joy is Irish with Irish Gypsy blood, whose Irish middle names "Aingeal Aimhirghin" (pronounced an-gael aver-yin) essentially means angel druid warrior poet. For Joy to be here today, making her music and art, she had to be a warrior of sorts who relied on her own spiritual knowing and her art and music to survive and surpass a childhood and young adulthood full of abuse and adversity. Joy speaks openly about being a sexual, emotional, psychological, physical and religious abuse survivor and has used her art and music to express and heal from these wounds. It is Joy's passion to use her music and art to communicate to others that no matter what circumstances you were born into, you can do whatever it is in your heart and your soul's destiny to do with your life.
Alongside her albums of music, Joy creates her printmaking and painting visual art in series that compliment the themes of her music. Both mediums constantly inspire each other with her visual art illustrating the feeling of her music and her music describing the emotions of the figures in her visual art. Joy is known for her contour line work style of her linoleum and wood cuts, which was first inspired by when Joy was doing ballet, modern and belly dancing and visualized the movement in the body as simple line gestures. Like a dance or a single line of poetic lyrics, she set out to make one single line communicate as much emotionality as possible in her figurative work.
Joy has a bachelors degree in a self-created major of Theatre Arts and Visual Arts and a masters degree in American Studies with a focus on art history and Irish cultural studies from California State University at Fullerton. Joy also studied abroad at Trinity College, Wales where she did acting and music composition for theatre. Her masters thesis was a book called The First Counter Culture Celebrity: Oscar Wilde's 1882 North American Tour which looked at the cultural impact of Wilde's 1882 press tour. All of Joy's studies fed back into her music, with her theatre design and performance inspiring the visuals and presentation of her music performances, her printmaking visual art illustrating her songs, and her cultural studies often inspiring the subject matter of her songs.
In March 2010, Joy showed a 10-year retrospective of her visual art, music and video work at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. She has collaborated with the illustrator and curator Suzanne Walsh collaborating on the magazine Together which has showcased Joy's art and music. In June 2011, Joy collaborated with the sculptor and performance artist Bale Creek Allen as a composer and performer in his show " A Pogo is a Logo Upside Down".