Joanne "J-Bird" Phillips
Photo Credit: Shefik
Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, New York, Joanne "J-Bird" Phillips grew up in a family of professional drummers and band leaders. Having natural rhythm since childhood, Joanne's father taught her to play with brushes on drums when she was seven, with her first song being "Come Fly with Me" by Frank Sinatra. She grew up listening to Swing, Motown, Bossa Nova, and Rock 'n' Roll, and honed her drum skills on a full orange sparkle drum kit that her family bought for her. At age sixteen, Joanne was asked to join a local garage band of teenage boys who needed someone to play their cover of "Wipeout" by The Surfaris correctly. She stepped in and nailed it.
Hence began Joanne's lifelong love of music and live performance.
Fast forward to the late 70s, after Joanne had moved to Long Beach and raised two children of her own in the arts — her son, an alumnus of Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC, and one of the metro area's popular freelance Improv coaches, and her daughter, a SAG-AFTRA television actress and comedian/comedy writer working in Los Angeles, California. Over the years, Joanne witnessed how many music and arts programs were evaporating and eventually terminated, due to lack of funding and/or support from the government, as well as certain folks with no interest in keeping arts programs alive, resulting in the arts put on the back burner in the education system. Joanne still continued to be an avid supporter of an arts education platform for children. She saw how it created positive experiences for her own kids (and many other youths) and witnessed how even a basic arts education enriched lives of youths on many levels for years into their adulthood.
In 2012, Joanne founded J-Bird Music for the Arts, with the vision of reviving arts programs by providing much needed equipment, instruments, and resources in order to enrich the lives of youths through arts education. She wanted to bring that same joy, excitement and creativity to youths everywhere, especially in areas that are underserved or underfunded.
Through J-Bird Music for the Arts, Joanne brings her vision alive. From her tireless efforts as a brain tumor survivor with a second chance to live and continue on this mission, she has provided much needed equipment and support to music and arts programs throughout New York State including Still Waters in a Storm in Brooklyn, Long Beach High School in Long Island, and Goshen Central High School in Orange County.