Most musicians are quick to list their musical influences, the artists who inspired them or who they tried to emulate at some point.

But Joan Armatrading has no such list. There’s no way a person can create art in a total vacuum, but she has come closer than most.

Growing up in the English industrial city of Birmingham, Armatrading said she had no musical heroes. Her mother bought her a piano as a child, and Armatrading knew almost immediately she needed to create music.

On her own.

“I’m completely self-taught. After the piano, my mother traded in two baby strollers at a pawn shop for a guitar,” said Armatrading, 59, speaking from a tour stop in Oslo, Norway. “When I started writing and playing, I didn’t do it by learning anyone else’s songs. I didn’t buy a lot of music. Even now, if you mention an artist I might know the name, but not much else. Music is everywhere, so I’d hear lots of things, but I’ve always written from inside my head.”

That strategy has paid off for Armatrading, who has recorded almost two dozen albums since her 1972 debut, “Whatever’s For Us.” Her smooth voice and creative phrasing helped make her adept at pop, jazz and blues.

Her biggest successes came in the late 1970s and early 1980s with sophisticated, layered pop songs such as “Love and Affection,” “Drop the Pilot” and “Show Some Emotion.”

She made the list, and was oft-mentioned by others on it, when cable music channel VH1 named its Top 100 Most Influential Women in Rock.

Armatrading continues to create music by herself as much as possible. Earlier this year she released a new pop album, “This Charming Life,” and played all the instruments except for drums.

“I like to keep to myself, I guess, do as much of the music myself as I can,” she said. Armatrading also does some of her own engineering of her albums.

Before this most recent CD, she had released a blues album.

“I let the songs be what they want to be, the song dictates what kind of album I’ll do,” said Armatrading, who was born in the West Indies but moved to England when she was 7 years old.

Armatrading has always toured extensively, and said she’s been to Maine “too many times to count” and is looking forward to having lobster at some point between her shows Sunday at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H., and Tuesday at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield.

Other than that, she looks forward to getting home and creating more music.

It’s all she’s ever wanted to do, and hasn’t given much thought to anything else.

“I have no idea if I have any role in the music industry,” said Armatrading. “But I feel lucky that I keep doing what I do and people seem to like it.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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