Josephine Howell: Vocalist at El Gaucho Seattle

If music be the food of love, play on. ~William Shakespeare

Ambiance is a key part of the El Gaucho experience, and music plays an important role in setting the stage at our restaurants, which is why we are proud to offer live music, 7 nights a week. We introduce you to the talented and passionate musicians who share their gift with us.

“You were born to help others live,” Josephine’s mother wrote to her. It was exactly what she needed to hear to help her, and her children, get out of homelessness.

Josephine Howell had moved to Seattle from Chicago to find a better life. Recently widowed and with four children still at home, her two grown children encouraged her to move closer to them in the Pacific Northwest. Through a series of events, including suffering through domestic violence, Josephine found herself in and out of shelters and half-way houses, on and off for five years, with four children in tow.

She recalls taking her children on the city bus during the cold winter months, just so they could keep warm. She found the longest route possible, which went from Renton around Lake Washington to Lake City, where they would hop on another bus. “I’m so grateful for those bus drivers, who knew our plight, and didn’t say a word,” she recalls. “I was going through hell.”

Through her strong faith, passion for music, and lots of help from family and friends, Josephine pulled herself out of that hopeless situation, which she considers her greatest accomplishment. “Being able to show my children the steps and the courage it took for a better life is incredibly important to me,” she says. “My family is everything.”

Josephine now has a total of 12 children, which include 6 step-children, and 18 grandkids, 13 of which are under the age of 5-years-old. Her job allows her to help raise and shuttle everyone around. “I’m the designated drop-off,” she laughs.

How she finds the time to perform and share her gift with the world is truly a feat. And “Josie’s” list of career accomplishments is incredible. She has performed in venues nationally and internationally, gracing stages from Chicago to Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, Kenya to Austria. She has also shared the stage with Madonna, Queen Latifah, Ernestine Anderson, BeBe Winan, and many more. She performed at the 2014 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, with the song “Same Love.”

Josephine says she’s always known that her gift was singing and sharing that with others through performing. She loves any performance where she knows she sees a positive change in someone. Some of her most requested songs to sing are “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Don’t Know Why,” by Norah Jones and “Home,” from the play, “The Wiz.”

Besides performing at El Gaucho Seattle every Sunday with pianist Paul Richardson, Josephine also performs at Shuga Jazz Bistro in Renton, Bake’s Place in Bellevue, Ray Gibson’s Caballeros Club in Tacoma, Tula’s Restaurant and Jazz Club in Seattle, and Village Theatre in Issaquah.

Josephine feels strongly about bettering her community, city, and country by using her gifts. She participates in many community events through singing, performing, entertaining, and directing, but also speaking very candidly to those in need.

“It’s important for them to hear from someone who has walked in their shoes, and I try to empower them,” she explains. “It’s hard to see that it’s the situation, and not ‘me.’”

She also commits time to speak to government agencies about the plight of the homeless. “There are so many struggles and stigmas involved in that situation. It’s a horrible way of feeling invisible,” she says, and “it’s hard to break the cycle.”

Every month, she visits the places where she “lived” in homelessness, and sees where she was, and how far she’s come. “I meditate, and thank God for where I’m at.”

We’re thankful, too! Josephine shares her gift with us every Sunday night, with pianist Paul Richardson, at El Gaucho Seattle, at 6pm.

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