Joan Hammel 
   

 

     biography   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan grew up in Lake County, IL in a musical family, and studied voice and instruments privately, in school and at church. She performs live as well as appearing in commercials, on television, in films, and on radio.


Joan has been nominated five times for Pop Entertainer of the Year by the Chicago Music Awards.  (Other nominees have been R. Kelly, Kanye West, Mavis Staples, Wilco and Jennifer Hudson.) The Illinois Arts Council placed Joan on their Illinois ArtsTour Roster of artists.  ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) gave her their fifth ASCAPLUS Writer's Award, where a panel of music experts recognize active writers in the early and midstages of their careers with cash and recognition.  The YWCA of Lake County awarded Joan their Women of Achievement Award in the Arts category.  The Robert M. MacNamara Foundation awarded her one of its residencies where she wrote new music. She is currently recording these songs for a new release. Her music is available on major digital distributors like iTunes and is available in over 100 countries.

Her first full length CD entitled joanland is a collection of 11 original songs performed by Joan and a variety of talented musicians and was included on the Grammy Awards Nominations Ballot in four different categories.  Appearing are members of the Cryan' Shames and blues legend Corky Siegel, as well as Skip Griparis of the Major League movies.  The album has been picked up by all of the major legal download sites like iTunes and is available to order at Borders, Best Buy and other big box locations.  Joan was also the vocalist on the recording of Oh Lady Di for the late Princess of Wales benefiting her Foundation and charities.  This recording also put Joan on the Grammy Awards Nominations Ballot in a number of categories.

Joan was the singer on America recorded after 9-11.  It can currently be heard on the website for the Flight 93 Memorial in California, and has been chosen to be included in the Artist Registry for the National 9-11 Memorial in New York City.  The song led to Joan being chosen by Washington for a nine-day USO tour to entertain the troops including New Year's Eve in Cuba and another appearance on the Grammy Awards Nominations Ballot.  Other performance highlights include appearing as a headliner during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and working all around the globe in places like the Caribbean and Las Vegas, including Caesar's Palace. She has shared billing with entertainers like Buddy Rich, Koko Taylor, Lonnie Brooks, the Chi-Lites, the Cryan’ Shames, David Sanborn, Brenda Russell, Shirley King, Taj Mahal, Johnny Frigo, Frank Mantooth, Rare Earth, James Moody and the Second City Comedy Troupe.   She has sung at Holy Name Cathedral many times and performed a concert as a part of acclaimed cellist Yoyo Ma's yearlong Silk Road project in Chicago.  

For several years, Joan was the lead singer of the Exceptions with a bandmate formerly of New Colony Six and Aorta. Commercials and television work include working with a variety of sports legends like Mike Ditka, Dan Hampton, and Dr. Julius Irving. Film work includes working with stars like Bill Murray, Robert DeNiro, Andie MacDowell, Dolly Parton, James Woods among others. The film Last Day in Chicago, in which she had a starring role, won its division of the Chicago International Film Festival.

The Chicago Tribune listed her as one of the best shows to listen to when she hosted and produced The Midday Show at ABC Radio affiliate WKRS, the first woman to do so, winning the Lake County Women’s Coalition’s Woman in Communications Award and Illinois’ Public Health Association Media Award. She hosted a show for WaukTown radio, and shows are available online anytime for listeners around the world.  Shows there are averaging over a million hits per month.  She has done shows with James Brown, Steve Allen, Richard Marx, Alan Thicke, Bart Starr, Jim Otto, Astronaut Jim Lovell, chef Jacques Pepin, Elektra Records founder Jack Holzman, Jennifer O'Neill, Livingston Taylor, Alan Osmond, Robert Guillaume, Oak Ridge Boy Joe Bonsall, Statler Brothers' Don Reid, Dr. Elmo (Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer), HGTV's Room by Room hosts Matt and Shari, Dick Van Patten, , original Mouseketeer Lonnie Burr, Lance Armstrong's personal coach Chris Carmichael, Janis Joplin and BOH guitarist Sam Andrew, and Hemingway’s travel companion, A.E. Hotchner, as well as covering a variety of local and national issues.

She has been a spokesperson for Jessica McClintock, Liz Claiborne, Microsoft, Anheuser Busch, and Toyota. Some of the honors she has received include being named to Who’s Who in Entertainment, Who’s Who in the Midwest, Who’s Who in Music, Who’s Who of American Women, and the International Who’s Who of Music in London.   "It’s Fun To be Fit!", a television program she worked on at CBS TV Chicago, won an Emmy for Best Children’s Program. At the same station, she also worked on the "Daybreak" show and some of her favorite guests included Jimmy Dean, Roger Miller, Jack Hanna, Jack Hemingway, Jack Brickhouse, Sid Caesar, Virginia Graham, Janet Leigh, Gore Vidal, the Joffrey Ballet, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe.

She served on the Board of Governors in Chicago for the GRAMMYs for many years, and was a part of the first female President/Vice President team in Academy history.  She chaired the Education Committee.  Through them, she has chaired the Chicago premieres of the Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett movie, "Music of the Heart," and "Mr. Holland’s Opus," with Richard Dreyfuss.  She is a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), and SAG/AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) where she is a member of the Singers Committee.  She served for over ten years as Trustee for the Lake County Discovery Museum Friends Board including multiple terms as President.

She has studied singing and recorded with Robert Harris of Northwestern University as well as studying both singing and conducting with the legendary Margaret Hills of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. She studied voice and acting with Tony Randall and operatic singer, Sherrill Milnes. At Ravinia, she had a master class with Conductor Christoph Eschenbach.  She also had a vocal masterclass with Roger Love.  She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago where she served as President of their their Alumni Assocation and on the school's Board of Trustees for about ten years.  Joan is currently working on original recording projects of her own as well as others.

Joan Hammel