Bringin’ It Backwards: Interview with Joshua Henry

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Together with American Songwriter, we had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Henry over Zoom video! 

No one knows the way a song cuts straight to the heart quite like Joshua Henry. He brilliantly pairs themes of vulnerability, love, and hope born out of the pandemic on his debut EP, Guarantee via S-Curve Records/BMG. The music showcases his immaculately powerful voice and his intelligent storytelling background, and Henry’s full voice–from low to high, from crooning to rapping. With Grammy-winning producer, writer, and composer Theron “Neff-U” Feemster (Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat) on board as a close collaborator and producer on Guarantee, the EP jumps through a kaleidoscopic spectrum of sounds, all anchored by Henry’s undeniable, unparalleled vocals.

“This EP is full of my heart, but I also want people to jump and groove to it, to feel it cerebrally, spiritually, and bodily,” Henry notes. “There was a blank canvas that took me back to when I was seven years old, just writing from my heart, with nothing to lose.”

Henry made a name for himself in his Tony-nominated turn in Scottsboro Boys and as Aaron Burr in the first touring company of Hamilton, but his passion for music was rooted in childhood. As he progressed through Broadway, TV, and film roles, Henry’s heart beat out rhythms, his voice ringing with clarion emotion. But the entire time, he longed for an outlet to express his own story. “I’d been writing songs for nearly a decade, but my incredible wife, Cathryn, pushed me to not waste any time and follow that passion,” Henry recalls. “I continue to love acting, stepping into someone else’s shoes, but this year made one thing super clear to me: We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, so I had to really give it my all.”

As New York was plunged into lockdown, the inspiration and the process of art became intertwined. As his wife took on nursing shifts caring for COVID patients, Henry would sneak into the music room in the family’s apartment to record vocals. “It was an amazing exercise in watching something grow through constraints–to know what’s possible if you have the right people supporting you,” he says. Whether walking through Central Park or a conversation over breakfast, time with his wife and son were particularly influential on Henry’s songwriting. “In the past I’ve been a really private person, but they gave me freedom to break my chest open, to get into conversations about self-discovery and vulnerability,” he explains.

The EP’s lead single “Hold Me” reflects the immense emotional depth and love that comes from opening oneself up to intimacy. An exploration of balancing the relentless pursuit of a dream while needing to ask for love and support, the track pairs Henry’s regal falsetto with a rippling and kinetic neo-soul production. Tight wordless harmonies wash over the rubbery bass and clap-along percussion, as Henry righteously explores his own deepest fears: “At the crossroads, hoping that you’ll hold me/ Don’t let go, don’t let go.”

Joshua Henry’s Guarantee is available now via S-Curve Records/BMG.

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