Career Bio

Joey Sommerville’s musical essence lies in the Baptist church. “When I was a teenager, I would judge the caliber of my playing by the number of people in the congregation who “got happy”. If you aren’t touching the listener’s soul, then you aren’t really playing music. Soul communication is the key.” Fast forward to today where “Papa J’s” unique style of new millennium jazz, with funk, gospel and bop influences, is delivered with infectious pop sensibilities. It’s this, coupled with his humor, warmth and showmanship, that drives the crowd crazy, creating a huge almost “cult-like” following of fans. And rightly so. Joey’s credits include:

  • Performing and recording with mega-rock group Phish
  • Featured soloist on the Cirque du Soleil’s Grammy nominated and Juno Award winning album, Alegria
  • Featured soloist on Hidden Beach’s Unwrapped Volume 4
  • Produced bassist/vocalist Rhonda Smith’s “RS2” which features Prince, Sheila E. and Gospel great Fred Hammond, voted one of the 10 best albums of the year (Japan)
  • Created the highly successful Sambuca Jazz Series in Atlanta performing with a veritable Who’s Who of contemporary jazz artists including Ronnie Laws, Peabo Bryson, Jeff Golub, Wayman Tisdale, Eric Marienthal, Nelson Rangell, Ronny Jordan, Chuck Loeb, Ann Nesby, and more
  • Performed at major venues and festivals nationally and internationally, including The Capital Jazz Festival, Nashville's Music City Jazz and Blues Festival, The Seabreeze Jazz Festival, The BB Jazz Fest, Jazz Fest West, Discover Jazz Festival (Burlington Vermont), The Atlanta Jazz Festival, The Preserve Jazz Festival, Jazz Summer Festival (Nassau, Bahamas), The Uptown Market Festival (Bermuda) and The Smooth Jazz Festival Augsburg (Germany)
  • Appeared as cornetist in the 2015 Emmy Award winning biopic “Bessie” starring Queen Latifah

His last album, the ironically titled "Overnight Sensation" received excellent reviews including a ringing endorsement from USA Today. The album continues to ride the top of the jazz radio charts. It features Joey along with notable guests, Jeff Lorber, Jeff Bradshaw, Elan Trotman and jazz guitar icon, Earl Klugh. In 2015, Joey continues his full touring schedule including appearances at The Blue Note NYC, The Berks Jazz Festival, The Keystone Jazz Festival and numerous other venues throughout the U.S. and abroad. For the past 4 years he has performed at and hosted Joey Sommerville's The Get Down Club on The Capital Jazz SuperCruise.

Joey has received numerous awards and accolades including The American Society of Young Musicians All That Jazz Award (2009). He is an active community servant and is on the Board of Directors of The How Big Is Your Dream Foundation, an Atlanta based charity that provides music education programs to students in underserved communities. He is also an active member of NARAS aka The Recording Academy (Grammys), having served two terms on The Board of Governors of the Atlanta Chapter

On a cold night way back in 2015, Joey Sommerville started to peel back yet another layer of his Being and Artistry. Never one to abandon his musical vision and integrity, Joey was hearing another kind of music in his head.

This was New Music. It was informed in part by his years of performing with blues legends and jam band superstars. It was a homecoming, as the years spent with B.B. King protoge Big Joe Burrell and working with the mega-band Phish mingled with the contemporary jazz years, while always including the early influences of Rock, R&B, Gospel, and Classic Blues. It was time to say something Bigger, something New, something authentic to the moment. Out of this creative primordial soup, Papa J was born.

Musically ready to tell it like it is, he’s speaking his mind. Ready to entertain, stir you toaction, make you dance, cry, laugh, or just nod your head, he’s here. REALLY here.