Joanna Gardner was born in 1962 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of a police force mechanic and a social and community director for a nursing concern. When Joanna was 16, she decided to start singing full-time. She formed her own group called Joanna's Band and they performed at her mom's nightclub where she also worked as a barmaid during the weekends.
While taking a part-time job at a jeweller's shop, Joanna met British music group, Loose Ends who were recording in Philadelphia with Nick Martinelli. Impressed by Joanna's voice, Nick got a record contract with Philly World Records within five days. Joanna's singing debut was on the song, "Today's Your Lucky Day" with singer Harold Melvin and she appeared on Loose Ends' "So Where Are You" album
After that, Joanna released her self-titled debut album in 1985. The song "Watching You" peaked at #77 on the U.S. Billboard's Hot R&B\Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, but her other songs, "Pick Up the Pieces," "We Can Make it," "Special Feelings," and "I Could Never Love Another Like You" was hit with UK soul fans who got to see Joanna sing in London while on tour with Loose Ends.