August 30th, 2013
The life and career of hit singer-songwriter Carolyn Dawn Johnson has been a steady climb to the top, as she remains a staple in the country music industry nearly 20 years after setting out to pursue her dreams in Nashville.
Just four short years after making the 60-hour drive from Vancouver, BC Canada to Music City U.S.A., Johnson scored her first chart-topping hit as a songwriter when Chely Wright took “Single White Female” all the way to No. 1. The success then led to publishing deals and cuts with several other artists like Patty Loveless, Mindy McCready, Kathy Mattea, Pam Tillis, SheDaisy Lila McCann, Suzy Bogguss, Linda Davis, Jo Dee Messina & more. Johnson was named Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year in 2000 by Music Row, and has continued to carry that title well as one of the town’s most loved and respected tunesmiths around.
“I love this town and all the creative people that really make it happen,” says Johnson. “I never seem to run out of inspiration. The music community has always included me and uplifted me, and I’m extremely blessed and thankful.”
After inking a record deal with Sony’s Arista Nashville in 2000, Johnson produced music of her own with the release of her debut album titled Room With a View. The critically acclaimed project spawned the Top 5 smash “Complicated,” as well as other hit singles such as “Georgia” and “I Don’t Want You to Go.” During that time, Johnson criss-crossed the country on many high-profile tours as the opening act for the likes of Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban. Her albums to follow included Dress Rehearsal in 2004, and her independently released Love & Negotiation in 2006 and Love Rules in 2010.
Besides laying down vocals for her own albums, Johnson’s angelic voice can also be heard on several outside projects with Martina McBride, Jana Kramer, Johnny Reid, Blake Shelton, Sheryl Crow, Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Mindy McCready and Patty Loveless. In addition to the side work with other artists, Johnson has also garnered such elite titles as the Canadian Country Music Awards’ Producer of the Year in 2004 and 2009 for her hand in producing one of many Canadian-based projects in recent years.
Over time, Johnson’s focus shifted back to what drew her to Nashville – her love and passion for songwriting. Johnson’s unique way of expressing words has made her a writer in town that aspiring newcomers hope to shape their own careers after.
“I’ve always wanted to be an artist who writes things that are real to me,” Johnson says of her songwriting. I just want to be honest in my music. It also brings me great joy to help other artists find what they want to say.”
Through it all, the multi-talented Johnson continues to chip away at her own craft, while spending time throughout the year on the road singing background vocals for Martina McBride (who she spent much time on the road with back in the beginning stages of her own career), in between doing her own headlining dates within the U.S. and Canada. To date, Johnson has racked up 17 CCMA’s, including the title for reigning Female Vocalist of the Year, as well as being crowned the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist in 2002. The American Music Awards hailed her as Favorite New Country Artist the following year.
“I like to say that I’ve had many bonuses to my dreams … things, people, events and accolades, in addition to and off the beaten path from my original goals,” notes Johnson. ”I’ve certainly gone further then I actually imagined, but that doesn’t make me stop in my tracks. I just want to keep doing this for the rest of my life. Music truly is what makes my world go round.
1)I have just seen the film 20 Feet From Stardom. What was it like working as a back-up singer for Martina McBride? Was there any competition or jealousy with the other back-up singers?
I LOVE WORKING FOR MARTINA, SHE IS A VERY GOOD PERSON AND A GREAT SINGER. I LOVED THAT I WAS ABLE TO MATCH HER PHRASING PERFECTLY AND REALLY FIT UNDERNEATH HER VOCALS. SHE HAS A GREAT EAR AS WELL SO SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE WANTS. I TAKE A LOT OF PRIDE IN DOING WHAT SHE WANTS AND GETTING ALL THE PARTS RIGHT AND MAKING HER SOUND HOPEFULLY EVEN BETTER (IF THAT’S POSSIBLE) I DON’T THINK THERE IS ANY JEALOUSY AT ALL WITH ANY OF THE OTHER BACKUP SINGERS, I THINK THEY ARE HAPPY THAT I CAN DO CERTAIN PARTS REALLY WELL FOR HER. WE ALL, AS A BAND, JUST WANT TO SOUND GREAT FOR HER, AND MAKE HER SHINE, SO ULTIMATELY IT’S A TEAM EFFORT, IT’S NEVER ABOUT ONE OR THE OTHER, OR OUTDOING EACH OTHER.
2)I just heard this amazing, beautiful song by Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson called There Must Be More To Life Than This. The lyrics really move me – esp. because Freddie and Michael are gone. Do you ever wonder about life – why you’re here – what your purpose is?
I DO WONDER ABOUT LIFE AND MY PURPOSE, I GO THROUGH PHASES WHERE I WONDER ABOUT IT A LOT. ABOUT 6 MONTHS AGO I WAS WRITING IN MY JOURNAL, AND I HAD THIS OVERWHELMING FEELING OF, “I AM DESTINED FOR MORE” I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS, BUT I’M ALWAYS SEARCHING, AND ALWAYS HOPING THAT I’M ON A PATH THAT AFFECTS PEOPLE POSITIVELY AND IS HEALTHY FOR MY FAMILY. I DON’T REALLY LIKE THINKING ABOUT BEING GONE, IT NEVER USED TO BOTHER ME, I REALLY FELT LIKE I COULD GO AT ANY TIME, BUT NOW THAT I HAVE CHILDREN I FEEL ALMOST AFRAID OF LEAVING THEM BEHIND, SO I’M HOPING THAT I HAVE MANY YEARS STILL AHEAD OF ME.
3)Did your parents try to discourage you from pursuing your dream as a singer/songwriter, or did they support your dream one hundred percent – no questions asked – no lecture?
I GOT A LECTURE AT FIRST FROM MY MOM. FIRST OF ALL LET ME SAY THIS, MY PARENTS ALWAYS SUPPORTED ALL THE LESSONS, AND THE SINGING AND ENJOYMENT OF MUSIC. IT WAS WHEN I TOLD THEM THAT I WAS GOING TO “GO FOR IT” THAT MY MOM GOT WORRIED AND SAID THINGS LIKE “OH BUT CAROLYN, YOU DON’T WANT TO LIVE THAT KIND OF LIFE, IT’S ALL ABOUT DRINKING AND DRUGS AND ALL THE BAD STUFF YOU HEAR ABOUT” I CAN’T REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT SHE SAID, BUT SOMETHING TO THAT AFFECT….BUT AFTER SHE REALIZED I MEANT IT, AND I WAS PLANNING MY JOURNEY, THEY DID FULLY SUPPORT ME. NO MORE QUESTIONS, JUST TRIED TO HELP ME FIGURE OUT HOW TO MOVE TO NASHVILLE, AND GET SETTLED AND BE AS MUCH OF A ROCK AS THEY COULD FOR ME FROM A COUNTRY AWAY.
4)Describe a day in the life of a songwriter. Does it take you hours or days to write a song? Do you focus on one song at a time, or do you write snippets here and there on different songs, and then go back to each one at a later time?
HMMMM……..IT CAN TAKE MINUTES, HOURS OR DAYS…..I TRY TO FOCUS ON ONE SONG AT A TIME, BUT SOMETIMES YOU CAN HAVE SEVERAL RUNNING THROUGH YOUR HEAD, JUMBLING AROUND, ESPECIALLY IF YOU’VE JUST FINISHED ONE, BUT IT FEELS UNFINISHED STILL, I MULL LYRICS OVER FOR DAYS TRYING TO GET THEM TO SOUND RIGHT RHYTHMICALLY AND TWEAK A LINE HERE OR THERE. I DO WRITE SNIPPETS THOUGH….ALL THE TIME….YOU HEAR SOMETHING….YOU WRITE IT DOWN, YOU MIGHT BLURB A FEW LINES TO GO WITH IT AND SET IT ASIDE UNTIL YOU CAN FOCUS ON IT….I HAVE SEVERAL JOURNALS/BOOKS/ THAT I WRITE STUFF DOWN ON …..ALSO THE COMPUTER IS GOOD FOR JOTTING THINGS DOWN, BUT FOR SOME REASON I DON’T LIKE IT AS WELL AS MY LITTLE BOOKS. I’M ALWAYS SINGING MELODIES INTO MY PHONE AS WELL, AND LITTLE MUSICAL HOOKS….IT’S NEVERENDING
THE DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SONGWRITER IS GETTING UP, DOING YOUR NORMAL ROUTINE OF GETTING READY….IF I’M WRITING WITH SOMEONE, I START ALMOST IMMEDIATELY SINGING MELODIES AND BRAINSTORMING IDEAS…..IN THE SHOWER, WHILE I’M PUTTING ON MAKEUP…..ALWAYS SEARCHING FOR AN IDEA TO FALL OUT…..AND MOST DAYS THEY DO…. THEY YOU GO AND SIT WITH A FRIEND (S) AND THROW AROUND IDEAS UNTIL WE BOTH, OR ALL LIKE AN IDEA AND WE RUN WITH IT….YOU NEVER KNOW WHO’S IDEA IS THE ONE THAT IS GOING TO STICK. A LOT OF TIMES, IF I’M WRITING WITH A LONG TIME CO-WRITER, WE COME IN WITH NOTHING, BUT WE ALWAYS FIND SOMETHING IF WE START TALKING, OR NOODLING AROUND, OR LOOK IN OUR LITTLE BOOKS…..
5)Do you like being in charge of your own albums – getting total say in the songs – releasing them on your own label – or would you like to be a part of a huge record company? I self-publish books (I am the creator/author of a ten-book western romance series), and prefer self-publishing – having total control over my work and money.
YES, I LIKE BEING IN CHARGE OF MY OWN ALBUMS, EVEN THOUGH I WAS ON A MAJOR LABEL FOR MY FIRST ALBUM, I REALLY WAS IN CHARGE OF THE SONG CHOICES THERE. I WAS VERY LUCKY. I REMEMBER AFTER I HAD CUT 5 SONGS FOR THE 1ST ALBUM, I HAD A MEETING WITH MY THEN PRESIDENT TIM DUBOIS, AND I SAID “IS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR YOU WANT ME TO CUT THAT I HAVEN’T CUT?” AND HE SAID “THERE ARE 3 SONGS I FEEL MUST BE ON THIS ALBUM, YOU’VE ALREADY CUT 2 OF THEM, AND I’M CERTAIN YOU WILL CUT THE THIRD, AS LONG AS THOSE ARE ON THERE, YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT” THAT IS UNHEARD OF!!!! I WAS VERY LUCKY, WE WERE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE. IF I COULD HAVE A MAJOR LABEL AND THAT KIND OF CREATIVE FREEDOM AGAIN I WOULD BE WILLING TO DO THAT, BUT I AM VERY CONTENT WITH BEING INDEPENDANT RIGHT NOW. MY 2ND ALBUM WAS TOUGH TO MAKE BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE FULL CREATIVE CONTROL AND THEN IT GOT WORSE GOING INTO MY 3RD ALBUM WHICH IS WHY I ASKED OUT OF MY RECORD DEAL, IT JUST GOT TOO SUFFOCATING. I DON’T NEED TO BE IN THAT SITUATION AGAIN, AS IT REALLY MADE ME NOT WANT TO DO MUSIC ANYMORE. SO THAT’S WHEN I KNEW IT WASN’T A GOOD THING FOR ME ANYMORE.
6)I love music videos, and have only seen a few of your songs turned into videos. Do you like shooting music videos? Did you have creative control of the ones that you did shoot?
I WAS PETRIFIED OF GOING INTO THE VIDEO WORLD, BUT ONCE I DID THE FIRST VIDEO GEORGIA, I DISCOVERED THAT I DID LIKE VIDEOS. I HAVE HAD GREAT DIRECTORS FOR MY VIDEOS AND THEY HAVE BEEN GREAT COLLABORATORS. SOME OF THE VIDEOS WERE MY IDEAS THAT THE DIRECTOR RAN WITH….AND SOME IDEAS WERE THEIRS AND WE WOULD COLLBARATE AS WELL……DIRECTORS HAVE AN EYE THAT IS TRULY AMAZING, I LOVE HOW THEY CAN SEE THINGS FAR IN ADVANCE. I’M ALWAYS EXHAUSTED ON VIDEO DAYS BECAUSE THEY ARE LONG AND I UUSALLY DON’T SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE, BUT I LOVE THEM…..
7)From other Interviews and articles that I’ve read, am I safe in saying that the beautiful album Room With A View was therapeutic for you? Were there times when you felt like you couldn’t write or sing some of the songs – especially Room With A View and Masterpiece? By the way, the entire album is a beautiful masterpiece.
THANK-YOU SO MUCH…..YES, IT WAS THERAPEUTIC FOR ME….I DON’T THINK I MEANT IT TO BE, BUT WRITING HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERAPEUTIC FOR ME, SO WHEN I WAS COMPILING THINGS FOR MY FIRST RECORD, SOME SONGS JUST NEEDED TO BE ON THERE AS THEY WERE HEALING FOR ME….AND I HOPED THEY WOULD BE HEALING FOR OTHER PEOPLE AS WELL…..I DIDN’T SING ROOM WITH A VIEW LIVE FOR A VERY VERY LONG TIME…..I WAS SOMEWHAT TAUNTED BY SOME FANS AND RADIO PEOPLE THE FIRST TIME I SANG IT….I WAS DOING A FREE RADIO SHOW FOR A LOT OF LISTENERS WHO HAD WON THE CHANCE TO SEE ME LIVE AND MEET ME….I WAS DOING AN ACOUSTIC SHOW….SOMEONE ASKED FOR “ROOM WITH A VIEW” AND I TOLD THEM, “I DON’T THINK I CAN DO THAT SONG, I’VE NEVER PLAYED IT LIVE AND IT’S STILL TOO PERSONAL FOR ME” WELL….THE PROGRAM DIRECTOR OF THE STATION STARTED SAYING “C’MON, YOU CAN SING IT….DO IT FOR US….” AND HE KEPT AFTER ME….AND SO I GAVE IN AND DID IT….I SANG MOST OF IT WITH MY EYES CLOSED, WITH TEARS, AND CHOKED ON SOME OF IT, BARELY GETTING THE WORDS OUT….WHEN I FINISHED AND OPENED MY EYES EVERYONE WAS CRYING…..IT WAS A VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT FOR ALL OF US….SO MANY PEOPLE TOLD ME THEIR STORIES OF LOSING A LOVED ONE AFTER IN THE AUTOGRAPH LINE, AND I REALIZED IT TOUCHED A LOT OF PEOPLE, SO I KNEW I WOULD HAVE TO START SINGING IT LIVE….I HAVEN’T DONE THAT SONG IN A LONG, LONG TIME, IT’S STILL HARD, BUT I’M SO GLAD I WROTE IT AND GOT TO TOUCH PEOPLE WITH IT
8)Every time I listen to Just Another Plane, I cry. I think of the times I either went on a trip or came back from one or was waiting for someone at the gate. The lines that really get to me are “It landed in the pourin’ rain” and “It’s just another boring Monday morning.” I especially think about how 9/11 no longer allows us to wait at the gate for people. And then I think about the ending scene in Love Actually where everyone is meeting their loved ones and friends, and bawl every time. What was your inspiration behind Just Another Plane? This song always moves me.
I was riding a greyhound bus from Edmonton to Calgary Alberta to visit my brother, and as I got closer to Calgary, I could see planes flying in and out of the airport, and I thought about how many planes I had already watched as I got closer, and how to me, they were just another plane, but to someone else, it was probably their husband, wife, child, grandparents, best friend, who knows……so definitely not just another plane…..and I thought about all the people driving their cars across the city to pick up their loved ones or drop them off….and the unknown…..will they get to where they are going? will they still feel the same way? the anticipation, the missing, maybe someone was leaving for good…..
so many stories swirled in my head….and I thought about the idea for the song “that’s not just another plane” …..to me, that’s my life….someone I LOVE…..
no big deal to anyone else to see the speck in the sky…but to me…..EVERYTHING…..
anyway…I was very inspired…I talked to my brother about it…and wanted to write the song with him….
but it ended up that we didn’t write it…and one day when I was sitting with Charlie Black, I described all of that, and those feelings and said I wanted to write this song…..and we took it from there….
you never know what will inspire a song…
I love that about life…and songwriting!!
9)I have your most recent album Love Rules. Is there a new album in the works? Are you writing songs for a new album?
I’M ALWAYS WRITING NEW SONGS….I’M TRYING TO WRAP MY BRAIN AROUND WHAT THE NEXT PROJECT WILL BE….I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS….IT DEPENDS ON WHAT I ANCHOR IT WITH…..I USUALLY START WITH A HANDFUL OF FAVORITES…I DO HAVE PLANS FOR A NEW ALBUM, JUST DON’T KNOW WHEN I’LL GET IT DONE AS I’VE BEEN WORKING ON SO MANY OTHER PEOPLES RECORDS
10)Do you find the music business easier or harder in Canada than it is in Nashville?
WELL, I TRIED TO “BREAK IN” IN CANADA AND I DIDN’T HAVE MUCH LUCK…..I WAS MAKING SOME HEADWAY….BUT I GOT AN EPIPHANY ONE DAY AND IT WAS THIS “I’M CLIMBING THE LADDER HERE IN CANADA, WHICH IS GREAT, BUT I REALLY WANT TO BE MAKING IT IN NASHVILLE, SO IF I HAVE TO CLIMB THE LADDER ANYWAY, WHY AM I NOT CLIMBING IT THERE? ” I KNEW I HAD TO START AT THE BOTTOM AGAIN ONCE I GOT TO NASHVILLE, SO I DECIDED IT WAS TIME TO GET DOWN THERE…..BOTH BUSINESSES ARE HARD, BUT I THINK NASHVILLE WOULD HAVE TO BE HARDER….IT’S JUST GOT MORE FISH IN THE SEA, EVERYONE IS FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE, TYRING TO MAKE IT WHETHER THEY ARE A SONGWRITER, MUSICIAN OR ARTIST….IT’S FULL OF TALENT, AND A LOT OF THAT TALENT NEVER EVER GETS NOTICED…..
11)Have you ever thought of acting? If so, what types of roles would you like – comedy, drama, romantic comedy, romantic drama, thriller, or western?
I’VE THOUGHT OF IT, ALTHOUGH I’M NOT SURE I WOULD BE MUCH GOOD AT IT…..ACCORDING TO MY FRIENDS, I WOULD BE GOOD AT COMEDY….I DON’T THINK I NECESSARILY HAVE THE TIMING FOR IT, BUT I HAVE THE FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND THE ABILITY TO MAKE A COMPLETE FOOL OF MYSELF FOR A GOOD LAUGH IF I HAD MY CHOICE, I’D LIKE TO MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH, AND I WOULD ALSO LIKE DRAMA AND ROMANCE:)
12)What drew you to country music over any other music genre?
I CAN’T TELL YOU EXACTLY WHY I WAS DRAWN TO COUNTRY MUSIC FOR ME, BECAUSE I LISTEN TO ALL KINDS, BUT I THINK IT’S BECAUSE I WAS A SINGER/SONGWRITER, AND I COULD RELATE TO MOST OF THE LYRICS IN THE COUNTRY MUSIC GENRE. I REALLY REALLY LOVED COUNTRY MUSIC, AND IT JUST FELT LIKE I FIT IN THERE. DEPENDING ON PRODUCTION, I COULD HAVE PROBABLY GONE IN OTHER DIRECTIONS, BUT I THINK MY BRAIN, MY UPBRINGING, BY VALUES ETC, FELT RIGHT IN THE COUNTRY MUSIC GENRE.
13)What is your inspiration behind God Doesn’t Make Mistakes. This song is another of yours that touches my heart and soul. It’s kind of my motto now, and in one of my western romance novels that I wrote, I titled one of my scenes God Doesn’t Make Mistakes - or rather, God Didn’t Make Mistakes - because it was so perfect for what my heroine Agnes was going through at the moment.
WELL, IT WAS A LATE NIGHT AND I WAS WRITING ON AN OFF DAY FROM THE ROAD WITH ONE OF MY FAVORITE CO-WRITERS TROY VERGES. WE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WE WERE GOING TO WRITE, BUT I JUST STARTED SINGING SOME OF THAT VERSE STUFF. IT’S ALL ABOUT MY INSECURITIES, AND SHARING THEM, AND HOPEFULLY LETTING EVERYONE KNOW….WE ALL HAVE SOME….BUT….AND THEN THIS JUST FELL OUT….I SAID, ‘BUT GOD DOESN’T MAKE MISTAKES” SO I MUST BE THIS WAY FOR A REASON…..AND THEN WE REALIZED THAT WAS WHAT THE SONG WAS….SO WE WENT FROM THERE. I WAS TIRED FROM BEING ON THE ROAD, I COULD ALWAYS BE REAL WITH TROY, WE ARE LONG TIME FRIENDS, SO I CAN SHARE THE TRUTH WITH HIM, AND THAT’S HOW IT CAME ABOUT. THAT’S ABOUT ALL I CAN REMEMBER FROM THEN…..
14)Your bio mentions your College Education - rare for musicians. Did you feel that a College Education was important for a musician, and helped/guided you?
I ACTUALLY WENT TO COLLEGE BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WAS UNREALISTIC FOR ME TO CHASE MY DREAMS AS A MUSICIAN, JUST THOUGHT THAT WOULD BE SOMETHING I DID ON THE SIDE. I THOUGHT IT WAS “SMART” FOR ME TO GO TO COLLEGE AS THEN I WOULD HOPEFULLY BE “GUARANTEED” TO HAVE A “GOOD” JOB WHEN I WAS DONE:)
15)When you write songs, do you also write the melody? Or do you just write the lyrics, and let someone else take care of the melody?
I AM GENERALLY THE MELODY LEADER, HOWEVER I LIKE IT IF I AM WITH SOMEONE, AND THEY CAN INTERJECT SOME OF THEIR MELODY IDEAS AS WELL, THAT MAKES A GOOD CO-WRITE, BECAUSE THEN IT BECOMES A COMBINATION OF TWO MUSICAL BRAINS, THAT’S WHEN YOU COME UP WITH SOMETHING, THAT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE COME UP WITH YOURSELF. I DO WRITE THE LYRICS AS WELL THOUGH…..I DO BOTH…..SO DEPENDING ON WHO I AM WITH, I MAY LEAN HEAVILY ON THE LYRICS, IF THEY ARE STRONG MUSICALLY, OR HEAVY ON THE MUSIC, IF THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT TO SAY, AND I’LL COME UP WITH IDEAS AND LINES INBETWEEN AS WE GO BACK AND FORTH. THERE’S REALLY NO SET WAY EVERY TIME YOU SET DOWN. IT’S TRULY A COLLABORATION. MY FAVORITE COMBOS ARE WHEN WE ALL DO IT ALL….BUT SOMETIMES I HAVE TO BE THE SOLE LYRIC WRITER IF I AM WITH ANOTHER ARTIST THAT DOESN’T REALLY WRITE, BUT CAN SING SOME MELODIES.
16)What songs are Fan Favorites?
“DIE OF A BROKEN HEART” ALWAYS SEEMS TO GET A HUGE REACTION, IT WAS A HUGE HIT IN CANADA AND I CAN’T START SINGING IT WITHOUT PEOPLE STARTING TO CHEER RIGHT AWAY, THEY ALWAYS SING A LONG….. ALSO, GEORGIA & COMPLICATED ALWAYS SEEM TO PROVOKE A LOT OF NOISE…
I HAVE A LOT OF FANS THOUGH WHO REALLY DIVE INTO MY ALBUMS, AND TELL ME THEIR FAVORITES AND I’M ALWAYS PLEANSANTLY SURPRISED. USUALLY IT IS THE HITS, BUT THE MUSIC LISTENERS WHO LISTEN TO WHOLE ALBUMS FIND OTHER TREASURES AS WELL.
17)Have there been songs that you couldn’t put on one album, and put them on the next?
THERE’S A SONG CALLED “LOVE RULES” THAT WAS MEANT TO GO ON THE FIRST 3 RECORDS, BUT I WOULD NEVER GET TO IT, BECAUSE IT WAS ALWAYS TALKED ABOUT DOING WITH A STRING SECTION AND MAKING IT JAZZY, AND REALLY DOING IT UP, BUT WE ALWAYS RAN OUT OF BUDGET, OR TIME…..SO I ENDED UP PUTTING IT ON MY 4TH ALBUM AND JUST DID IT WITH AN ACOUSTIC LIKE IT WAS RECORDED IN IT’S ORIGINAL FORM WHEN I WROTE IT WITH GENE NELSON. ‘SQUEEZIN’ THE LOVE OUTTA YOU’ WAS ON MY 2ND ALBUM, I TALKED ABOUT PUTTING IT ON MY FIRST, BUT IT HAD BEEN RECORDED BY A DUO CALLED REDMON AND VALE, AND I HAD TO WAIT UNTIL THEIR RECORD RAN IT’S COURSE. ALSO, I RECORDED “JUST ANOTHER PLANE” FOR MY FIRST ALBUM, BUT I DIDN’T LIKE THE WAY IT WAS RECORDED, IT LOST IT’S FEELING, SO I NEVER FINISHED IT OR PUT IT ON THE RECORD….WHEN I WENT IN ON THE SECOND RECORD, I REDID IT AND LOVED IT….IT WAS FINALLY RIGHT…I HAD TO GO BACK AND REFER TO MY CO-WRITER CHARLIE BLACK ON IT, WE RE-DEMOED IT THE WAY WE WANTED IT, THEN TRIED TO DUPLICATE THAT BETTER ON THE RECORD
18)Are there any songs on any of your albums that you didn’t get a choice in, even if you are the Producer on all four, and wish weren’t on there, or do you love every song picked on all four albums?
I PRETTY MUCH LOVE EVERY SONG, BUT THERE ARE A FEW I WOULD HAVE REPLACED WITH SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD, SOMETHING I LIKED BETTER, BUT WAS NUDGED TO PUT THOSE PARTICULAR SONGS ON THE RECORD AND SO I DID IT. ON MY SECOND RECORD, THERE IS A SONG CALLED “SIMPLE LIFE” THAT I DID NOT WRITE, I WAS REALLY CORNERED INTO CUTTING AN “OUTSIDE” SONG, THANKFULLY I FOUND ONE THAT I LOVED IN “SIMPLE LIFE’ AND WAS ABLE TO SINK MY TEETH INTO IT, AND PUT MY HEART INTO IT, BUT ULTIMATELY, IF IT WAS REALLY MY CHOICE IN THAT SITUATION, I WOULDN’T HAVE PUT IT ON THE RECORD. FANS LOVE IT, AND SO DO I , AND IT’S BEEN GOOD FOR MY CAREER, BUT ARTISTICALLY, AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME, I DID NOT WANT AN OUTSIDE SONG ON MY RECORD.
19)Would you consider an album where you are the sole songwriter – all songs written by you – no co-writer?
I WOULD CONSIDER AN ALBUM WHERE I WAS THE SOLE SONGWRITER, I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THAT MANY TIMES. IT WOULD TAKE SOME SERIOUS TIME TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN BECAUSE I CO-WRITE A LOT, AND I NEED TO SET THE TIME ASIDE TO WRITE BY MYSELF. THEN AFTER YOU SET THAT TIME ASIDE, YOU NEED TO WRITE A LOT OF SONGS, TO HAVE ENOUGH TO LET THE CREAM RISE TO THE TOP…..SO IT JUST TAKES A LOT OF WRITING. BUT I DO FEEL THERE IS AN ALBUM THAT NEEDS TO BE WRITTEN THAT IS SOLELY WRITTEN BY ME, WILL PROBABLY BE PRETTY INTROSPECTIVE AND POSSIBLY SOME STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS. I’D LIKE IT TO BE RELEVANT TO HOW I VIEW THE WORLD AT THAT TIME, AND MAYBE SHARE SOME WISDOM AS WELL AS HAVE ELEMENTS OF MY SONGWRITER DEFAULT- THE BITTERSWEETNESS OF LIFE AND LOVE
20)If you can talk about it, has there been anything in the music business that has made you angry/furious?
HMMMM….WELL….YES…THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL THINGS THAT HAVE MADE ME ANGRY. I’M NOT SURE WHERE TO START. I’M GOING TO COME BACK TO THIS QUESTION. I DON’T EVEN REALLY LIKE DRUDGING UP SOME OF THE ANGER. FOR THE MOST PART, I’M JUST A HOPELESS MUSIC LOVER THAT WILL PROBABLY ALWAYS BE IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS, BUT IT IS A BUSINESS, AND SOMETIMES BUSINESS CAN BE MESSY AND HEARTLESS. SO WHEN YOU PUT MESSY AND HEARTLESS WITH A HOPELESS MUSIC LOVER (S) THERE IS A HUGE CAPABILITY FOR NOT SO COOL STUFF TO HAPPEN. IT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS. WEIRD COMBO, BUT STILL NECESSARY IN ORDER TO MAKE THE MUSIC WORLD GO ROUND……
Carolyn Dawn Johnson
“Complicated” by CDJ / Arista (top 5 in US & #1 Canada)
“I Don’t Want You To Go” by CDJ / Arista (#7 US & top 5 Canada)
“One Day Closer To You” by CDJ / Arista (top 25 in US & top 5 Canada)
“Georgia” by CDJ / Arista (top 25 in US & #1 Canada)
“You Are” “Die of A Broken Heart” “Dress Rehearsal” “Head Over High Heels “
by CDJ / Arista (top 5 Canada)
“Taking Back My Brave” “Crybaby” “Into You”
by CDJ / Universal Music/Dancing Lily Music (top 10 Canada)
“Let Me Introduce Myself” by CDJ/Universal Music/Dancing Lily Music (top 5 in Canada)
“I’d Still Have You” “Stop For Me” “The Whole Thing” (top 15 in Canada)
“Reach you” (top 20 in Canada)
Carolyn Dawn Johnson
Notes of Interest
Sang background vocals on studio albums for: Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride, Mindy McCready, Patty Loveless, Dean Miller, & Jaime O’Neal
Has toured with Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers & Keith Urban
1999-2000, 2012, 2013 toured w/Martina McBride as backup vocalist and guitar player.
2000 – Music Row Magazine’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year
2001 – Highest Debuting Album in the history of Arista Nashville Records – “Room With A View”
2001 – 5 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA’s)-Single of the Year, Song of the Year (both for “Complicated”) Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year “Room With A View” and Rising Star Award.
2002 – Academy of Country Music Award (US) “Top New Female Vocalist”, Juno Award -Country Artist of the Year, 3 CCMA Awards-Single & Video of the Year (both for “I Don’t Want You To Go”) & Female Artist of the Year
2003 – American Music Awards – Favourite New Artist, Country
2004 – Released Album “Dress Rehearsal” – 5 CCMA Awards – Single & Video of the Year (for “Simple Life”), Song of the Year (for “Die of A Broken Heart”), Album of the Year (for “Dress Rehearsal”"), Producer of the Year w/Dann Huff.
2006 – Released Album “Love & Negotiation” – CCMA Award for Female Artist of the Year
2007 – CCMA Award for Female Artist of the Year
2009-CCMA Award for Producer of the Year for Tara Oram’s CD-Chasing The Sun
2 Nashville Songwriters Association Awards (NSAI) – “Single White Female” & “Complicated”
6 Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada Awards (SOCAN) – “Downtime” “I Don’t Want You To Go” “Single White Female” “Georgia” “You Are” & “Complicated”
4 American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers Awards (ASCAP) – “I Don’t Want You To Go” “Downtime” “Single White Female” & “Complicated
2 SOCAN Classic Awards (100,000 plays) for Complicated & I Don’t Want You To Go
2005 – wrote “The Chain” w/Amy Foster-Gilles for the 25th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Run & unveiling of a monument in his honour in Victoria, BC. Performed it on TV special dedicated to him.
Hosted the 2007 BC Country Music Awards in Vancouver
Hosted the 2009 SOCAN Awards in Toronto
2008- Produced 4 tracks on the Tara Oram album “Chasing The Sun”
2007-2008 Hosted the Radio Show “Sounds Canadian”
2012-CCMA Female Vocalist of the Year
2013-Played CMA Music Festival downtown Nashville, Grand Ole Opry twice
2013-Co-Produced Mackenzie Porter’s single “Never Gonna Let You”
2013-Produced Lisa Brokop for Greatest Hits