Historian, Musician, Storyteller
In the 1970's Joe traveled to Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador where he learned some conversational Spanish which he is happy to use during presentations and tours with Spanish speaking audiences. He has been a Marine, Park Ranger, Counselor, Teacher and Director of Visitor Services. Joe plays 18th, 19th, and 20th century music and instruments from the electric guitar to the glass armonica. He has performed at festivals, colleges and clubs across North America. Joe and Lorelle his wife of over 40 years have 5 children and 10 grand children.
Joe has a breadth of professional experience in the field of history. From 1989 to 1992 he was the Director of Visitor Services at Historic Fort Mifflin. After his tenure at Fort Mifflin, Joe held several roles at Independence National Historic Park. He holds memberships in the Association for the Study of African-American History and Life, Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania . Joe is the co-founder of the 3rd Regiment Infantry United States Colored Troops Civil War Reenactors, and the First Rhode Island Regiment American Revolutionary War Reenactors. From 1995-1996 he taught a class on Africans and the Civil War through the Philadelphia Public Library. He also hosted a segment of the Veteran's Hour on W.D.A.S. Radio called "Champions of Freedom".
Musically, Joe Becton has been playing music for over forty years . He plays music including Folk, Gospel, Blues, Rag, Jazz, Latin, and Reggae styles. He also plays the reed harmonica and sings. In the1960's he fronted the Philadelphia groups My Brothers Keeper and Sandhouse. In the early eighties Joe played guitar and did backup vocals for Ernest Standberry's Pensacola Rhythm Section and Star of Destiny.
Joe does a solo show and duo work with Lorelle Becton They have played in California, Mexico, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Washington, New Mexico, Missouri, New Jersey and Florida. In 1980 Joe moved his solo career into high gear playing Pensacola beach clubs, festivals and restaurants. In 1984 he returned to Philadelphia and continued to do solo work and in 1986 became the front man for Cobalt Blues, Today he is the leader of that group and continues to do solo work. He does occasional pick up work fronting local acts: The Blues Review 1997-1999. Ben Singleton’s Blues Review 1997-2000, Frank Bey’s Swing City Blues, December 2000, Courtney Freeman and Cornbread July 2003 and The Philadelphia Blues Messengers 2018.
Joe has written over forty songs and he appears on Jeff Raffie CD "Don't Drop The Rock" doing the lead vocals on Jose' Blues 1998, Cobalt's CD single Cobalt Blues 2001 and Joe's Solo CD American Griot 2002. American Griot II 2010.
He has opened for Josh White Jr. ,Willie Tyler and Lester, The Persuasions, The Holmes Brothers, Joan Osborne, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Saul Broudy, Kevin So and Rev. John Wilkins. In 2004 he began presenting for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council delivering his "Evolution of the Blues" musical presentation which is gaining regional acclaim and national recognition following performances and workshops in the South, Northwest and Southwest 2005-2020.