Jo Ann Daugherty, born in 1974 in rural Missouri, began playing piano by ear at a very young age. At age five she began her studies with her remote area's only classical piano teacher, and was compelled from then on to make music. She listened to country music on the radio and Christmas music at home for the holidays, and started listening to pop music at age 11. Being some 100 miles away from any major city, she listened to whatever recordings she could obtain. By age 15 she began playing at restaurants in the surrounding small towns, and discovered jazz. It was at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO, while pursuing a degree in classical piano performance, that she became more interested in jazz, studying with tenor saxophonist Rick DiMuzio, who subsequently headed for Boston to teach at the Berklee School of Music. There was no jazz piano instructor at Truman State, so Daugherty learned modern and progressive jazz elements through DiMuzio's love of John Coltrane and Joe Henderson. She then followed through in graduate coursework at DePaul University in Chicago, tutored by the well-known jazz pianist Larry Novak. Her influences were then more pronounced, including Wynton Kelly, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, and Stevie Wonder.
After college came a two-year stint as a resident of Kansas City, where she began gigging regularly, leading her own trio and playing with many other groups. In 1998 Daugherty moved back to Chicago to continue her musical growth. Since then, she has maintained a schedule of performing as a leader and accompanist, as well as traveling throughout the U.S. with various musical and theater acts. In 1999 Daugherty was chosen to perform in the Chicago Jazz Exchange Quartet for two weeks of concerts in Giverny, France. She has collaborated with many experienced and revered musicians, including Randy Brecker, John Abercrombie, Howard Levy, and others. In 2000 Daugherty released her first trio CD, Debut, followed by the small-ensemble date Range of Motion, both for the Blu Jazz label. She continues to play at metro Chicago clubs, concerts, and festivals, is a founding member of the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective, regularly presents her original music at the Green Mill nightclub, and appears regularly at the Bandera Restaurant. Other engagements have included appearances with the U.S.O. of Illinois, and she conducts clinics and lecture/performances at several area schools.