Joe Langley's story is the most remarkable of all the expatriates that I know - AfricanAmerican or otherwise! His love affair with the French language began when he
found his brother's copy of Saint Exupéry's Le Petit Prince at home. He liked the
"look" of the French words and loved the illustrations. These inspired him to pursue
art and the French language as life-long passions. He went on to spend a year in the
Dordogne region as an exchange student at the age of fifteen, and a year in
Montpellier in the junior-year-abroad program at Davidson College. The French
Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited Joe to teach English to high school students in
Montpellier upon his graduation from Davidson. He spent a year in this post, which
provided him with the legal working papers that are so coveted by expatriates. He
went on to work as an acrobatic rider and singer for the traveling circus Zingaro for
Subsequently, Joe enrolled at the Sorbonne to study French and American literature…
and Romanian! He went on to work for L'Oréal Cosmetics, where he became a
director of the company's black hair care subsidiary, Goldys International. He traveled
in this position as well, working for the company from 1990 to 1995. He was posted
in Avignon in 1995 when he lost his vision.
Josephs Gift is the name of the book of poetry that Joe began writing in 1997. He
describes it as a "creative last will and testament," one that he began when he did not
know that his blindness was temporary. Slowly, it has become part of a greater project
which incorporates his music as well as his art. He has converted poems into songs
and songs into videos. To date, he has written and recorded roughly 350 songs and has
created over 500 paintings. The project has evolved and matured into a YouTube site -
Joseph Langley, and songs available os Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music etc. Art and
Music now represent Joe's full time occupations.
Josephs Gift has also evolved into a project that helps others gain exposure for their
art, music, or whatever medium they find for self-expression.
Joe is currently spending a lot of time in the studio working on or researching new
sounds and melodies. Though many musical artists influence him, he is particularly
fond of Al Jarreau because of the diversity in Jarreau's music and "the variety of
textures that he can give to his voice, thus giving him a more important vocal range."
Joe has also spent time on the radio. In October 2010, he participated in a show called
Black Feeling on Radio Fréquence Paris Plurielle (http://www.rfpp.net/). He had
called his friend John Dossavi, who hosts the show at RFPP, to ask if tenor
saxophonist Chansse Evanns could publicize a concert that he was organizing in
honor of Lena Horne. Joe ended up interviewing Evanns on the air, whereby Dossavi
asked Joe if he would be interested in doing regular interviews of artists, musicians,
and others. The Universe of Joseph Langley was born!
He continues to paint. He says that he paints in a "very fluid and spontaneous style,"
and that his work is "somewhere between modern and pop art with a touch of
'fauvisme' He calls it HapArt.