Joani Lacy has been entertaining Cincinnati audiences for over 20 years with her singing and playing the rubboard in her and her husband’s group, Robin Lacy & DeZydeco. The chank-a-chank, as the rubboard is sometimes called in Louisiana, is a metal washboard that is an integral rhythmic part of Zydeco music. She began her career as a vocalist in 1973, performing in Japan while serving in the USAF. Since then, she has toured in Top 40 bands and traveled throughout the Midwest and Southern states until moving to the Cincinnati area where she has covered jazz standards, blues and country music. It was in 1989 that Robin Lacy & DeZydeco was formed, traveling extensively overseas entertaining troops for the U.S. military.
Her writing career began as a hobby in the 1980s. After having an article published in The Cincinnati Enquirer in the early 2000s she was inspired to begin writing a novel. Having been immersed in the culture of New Orleans since the inception of their band, it was a natural fit to set her fiction in a Deep South atmosphere.
She has since completed the Hollister House Trilogy, a story that takes place in Mississippi where gothic imagery and voodoo queens collide in a haunted house setting made all the more scintillating by an enchanted banyan tree.
From Joani Lacy ~
If you have traveled to my website, first off, I thank you. Maybe you wandered here by mistake or by sheer coincidence, but I like to imagine there’s a strong probability that you have read or are reading my novels, which means we most likely share a love of Victorian imagery, gothic atmospheres, New Orleans folklore and an expanding curiosity of the metaphysical and the possibilities of a limitless universe in which we all coexist. In other words, you might be a seeker or an admirer of those who question this physical and nonphysical life. Or perhaps you just have a great imagination and appreciate a fun story. For any or all of these reasons, I feel a kinship with you and would like to share some of my personal history.
I have never been a writer by profession, but I have been a writer, nonetheless. In my 20s I dabbled in poetry and attempts at songwriting, but it was in my 30s that I found a real desire to put down into words an experience I had as a young woman in the Air Force. It was that desire that drove me to finish a 220-page accounting of a year in my life and really got me interested in storytelling. Once I got a personal computer, poetry became an every-night ritual.
My Early Life
I was born in Portsmouth, Ohio on December 7, 1951. Soon after, my parents moved with my sister and I to Carey, Ohio. I graduated high school there. After a year at Findlay College, I enlisted in the USAF. It was the Vietnam era, and the military was not a popular choice. But it was my choice because of a burning desire to travel and experience the world outside of my home town. It was a good choice. I became a medic. After serving at Wilford Hall Medical Center and getting my heart broken by a 15-year-old who died of leukemia, I was transferred to the hospital ER and then transferred again, happily ending up my tour of duty in Misawa, Japan. During those four years of service I traveled extensively, and my time working as a young woman on a cancer ward in the largest Air Force hospital had given me an outlook that taught me to live for the moment; it might be all you have. It was a good lesson, although hard to truly live and learn. The 15-year-old became the subject for my later first book (that remains in my drawer) and then the inspiration for Hollister House. And as a natural result of living on the economy in a small Japanese village I became a student of metaphysical thinking that I continue to this day.
My Early Music Career
I started singing at a very young age in Carey, Ohio and was a soloist in chorus and vocal ensembles. My dear friend and accompanist, Jim Roynon, and I played all the hot spots; our school, our church, weddings. Because of my musical influences, I went on to minor in music at Findlay College. But instead of joining the jazz band and continuing my education there, I enlisted in the Air Force. It was in Misawa, Japan, that I got in a band for the first time. It was called “The Versatiles” and, as the name implied, we kept to a varied and classic playlist. After that group, I got top billing in “Joan and Yankee” and we performed rock 'n roll for the locals at Japanese businesses.
After being discharged, I returned to Gahanna, Ohio where my family had moved and it was there that I auditioned for and joined a local Top-40 band called “Highway 40.” During this period I attended OSU and took a class in music theory. I would have liked to continue my education, but the road called.
My husband and I met through a musical agent in Columbus who was putting together a band. Robin and I became close friends, and then got closer, and the rest, as they say…
We spent the next years traveling solely on the road in different bands, “Timepiece,” “ATR, Actions Thrills and Romance” which morphed into “Romance.” During these fun years the home club for us in the Cincinnati area was The Drawbridge, where we became a part of the Tommy Behle management family. He was good to us, and we culminated that relationship by getting married on his dance floor of the Conservatory Restaurant years later. When “Romance” disbanded the years of travel came to an end and Price Hill in Cincinnati became home. During these years we both took pickup work in music. I enrolled into a court reporting course at U.C. and Robin continued to travel in bands off and on. I found work in a local group called “Rumors.” Eventually Robin became lead singer for a house band at a club called Easy Street in Sharonville. That job lasted a good five years. During this time I found work with various piano players singing standards at The Conservatory Restaurant. But basically this was the time that I withdrew from music and really began to write. But music would come back to me.
In 1988 Robin and I traveled to New Orleans and fell in love with Zydeco music. We came back home and shook up the musical community with this Louisiana-based music that brought accordion to a stage that was not German in Cincinnati for the first time. Twenty-two years later we are still playing this extraordinary music, which has evolved into our own unique sound. You must visit the band website for further exploration into that joyful chapter of my life. In the ‘90s we got lucky with a DOD agent who booked us into tours that allowed us to travel through Europe and even the Middle East performing for servicemen and women. It was a surprising gift that came from our music.
In 2001 the world changed with 9/11 and in Cincinnati we faced an upheaval in our own city with racial riots. At the time Robin and I lived in the City and the atmosphere was frightening and depressing. It was that year that I started walking in our old neighborhood. It inspired me to write a short piece for the paper that was published under a “local voice” section. After reading my article a friend suggested I should write a novel. At the same time a psychic friend advised I should write children’s books. So I set out to do just that. Again, I went back to that boy who had died while I was a medic in the service. My idea for a book: A young boy who has cancer and is miraculously cured by a ghost in a haunted house. That was the idea and that’s where I began. Years later, of course, that idea evolved into the full-blown trilogy of Hollister House.
The band continues and I will continue to write. I hope to publish some of my poetry and short stories here on the website, and of course my hope is that you and I will develop relationships about my writing and perhaps your writing and that this will become an interactive site with new and old friends. I am working on that. LOL
In the meantime, I believe I have more stories to tell and I hope that you will enjoy going there with me...