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Angela Johnson | Features

Artist Of The Month
A Womans Touch

Angela JohnsonReared on Motown backbeats, 70s groove bands, and gospel wails, multi-talented artist Angela Johnson has a knack for creating songs that infuse the classic elements of music's yesteryear into a dynamic and contemporary brew distinctly her own. Her critically-acclaimed solo albums They Don't Know and Got To Let It Go introduced Angela as a soothing soul singer with a stealth, gut-punching alto and a sensitive songwriter of deceptively simple melodies that moved listeners from romantic sways to back-burning sweats.

Her most recent offering, A Woman's Touch is a single-producer project that furthers Angela's evolution as an erudite production talent and continues a legacy of female musician/producers not seen since the pioneering days of Patrice Rushen and Angela Winbush. Boasting the crème de la crème of soul and R&B, from Rahsaan Patterson and Eric Roberson to Maysa and Julie Dexter, A Woman's Touch is more than an indie soul project, it is an industry event unseen since the timeless producer albums of Quincy Jones and Norman Conners. When considered alongside a body of work that includes two solo masterpieces and two highly-hailed group projects as the lead singer of the soul-funk band, Cooly's Hot Box, Angela's fifth studio release is a revealing testament to the time and commitment Angela has spent honing her multi-faceted skills to a spit-shined perfection. To thrive for over 15 years in this bare-knuckle business of music requires talent, beauty, a strong constitution, and steely determination—qualities Angela has possessed since day one.

Her enduring career isn't surprising to those in the know; Angela's talents and tenacity have made it seem destined. As a musical child prodigy who played piano by age 4 and violin by age 9, it appears Angela Johnson was born for music. She certainly was prepped for this glorious—and occasionally brutal ride—by her upstate New York rearing in the tough industrial town of Utica, NY. There, as a teenage choir director and church organist in her Baptist church, Angela received her first critical training on how to rouse a crowd through the power of song. Refinement as a musician and performer came through a fated stint at State University of New York (SUNY) in Purchase. At SUNY, Angela studied as a violin major and met her fellow students and future Cooly's Hot Box bandmates, including close collaborator Christian Urich of the cult favorite, Tortured Soul. Several years of singing lead and writing for Cooly's Hot Box produced three dance hits ("What A Surprise," "Make Me Happy," and "We Don't Have To Be Alone"), a doomed label deal with Virgin Records that still produced Cooly's commendable debut Take It, and a much celebrated sophomore project (Don't Be Afraid, Get On) under Angela's current label home, Purpose Records, signaled the end of the Cooly's era. After departing Cooly's in 2002, Angela met the industry as a grown woman of esteemed talents with an experience earned doctorate in music business chicanery. The year also found a newly motivated Angela Johnson determined to show the world what she could do as an artist, alone.

Angela JohnsonSince her 2002 solo debut, They Don't Know, and its auspicious follow-up, Got To Let Go, Angela Johnson has been making the kind of honest soul music that has inspired promoters, music lovers and industry insiders everywhere to make sure that everyone knows exactly who she is. With the 2008 release of A Woman's Touch, interest in Angela's music has exploded throughout the music scene, from radio to industry bloggers the word is out. Even before A Woman's Touch, Angela's talents as a singer, songwriter and producer have been in high demand. With songs featured on HBO's The Wire, UPN's Kevin Hill, FX's The Shield, and WB's Roswell, and a 2005 national TV advertising campaign with Cooly's Hot Box for (AT&T/Cingular) already under her belt, soon everyone will be whistling an Angela tune. Madison Avenue aren't the only ones taking notice of Angela's talents. Artists like Conya Doss ("Emotions"), Seek ("Journey Into Day"), Laurnea ("No Shame"), and Reel People ("Can't Stop") have all sought out Angela Johnson's unique sound to grace their projects. More than an artist's musician, Angela's a proven hit producer and songwriter with a 2001 top ten, gold selling hit, "Angel," for Japanese R&B superstar, Double. It's because of Angela's track record for helping talented artists' deliver some of their most memorable work that A Woman's Touch track listing reads like the who's who of contemporary soul.

On her latest project Angela expertly guides Grammy award-winning artists like Gordon Chambers ("Get Away") and Claude McKnight of Take 6 ("Here I Stand") through unexpected, tropical soundscapes, revealing different sides of these familiar talents. As the writer, producer and arranger of every track of A Woman's Touch, Angela repeatedly illuminates recognizable artists through the different lenses of her unique musical kaleidoscope. Whether it's pushing Frank McComb ("Play"), labelmate Monet ("That's Just The Way") or Eric Roberson ("Let Me Know") to move their soulful sounds to the dance floor or lifting the curtain on her solo-worthy backing singers Lisala (Walkin') and Tricia Angus ("Not The One") on compositions that places their ample voices firmly center stage, Angela's never predictable. Even when she allows trademark artists to do what they do best, like Maysa on the romantic "More Than You Know" or Rahsaan Patterson's funky "Dream Flight", Angela Johnson still manages to put her indelible stamp on the music. A Woman's Touch also illustrates Angela's ear for arranging persuasive, radio-friendly material that would be at home on any adult contemporary, smooth jazz or progressive soul station. Catchy duets like Jazzhole front man Marlon Saunders ("Wait On A Maybe") with newcomer Lenora Jaye, or Angela's own vocal collaborations with band mate Ernesto Abreu ("Amal") or Lisala and Tricia Angus ("Crying Over You") confirm that independent soul needn't ever be dull or esoteric to be good. Then again, that's Angela Johnson's work, to keep the music simple, yet vibrant to the ear. It's the music she's best at that is perhaps most reflective of whom Angela is as an artist, wife, mother, and as a woman: a strong, uncomplicated, uncompromising melody determined to play all the keys of life. Six years after the release of her solo debut and countless more steadily riding the music industry rollercoaster to prominence, A Woman's Touch, parades an artist at her peak. Still in fighting form with a point to prove, Angela Johnson is an ever-evolving talent with an unquenchable desire to feed her listeners that good, soul-nurturing music their hungry for. Are you ready for another serving?

Angela JohnsonAngela, our compliments on your fantastic new album "Got to let it go"
Thank you!

Q: At an early age you were interested in music. Where does this interest in music originate from?
A: My parents came from musical families. I have plenty of aunts and uncles who sing and play instruments. My mother played piano and some steel guitar. She used to sing to me at the piano and I would try to imitate her. That's really how I got started.

Q: Which artist(s) have been a great inspiration for you?
A: Wow, there are so many. To pick a few, I'd say Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson. I'm inspired everytime I hear their music.

Q: When u decided to make this album did u already had in mind how it had to sound like or did the ideas arise while working on it?
A: Many of the ideas came about while working on tracks for other artists. It also depended on the mood I was in that day. Somehow, all of the songs began to compliment each other. Sometimes it's difficult for me to decide early on what an album should sound like. As a woman, lol..., I go through quite a few changes. I just go with what feels right at the time.

Q: You have produced, written and arranged all the 12 songs on "Got to let it go". What was the challenge to do all this?
A: It's challenging to take on all of the responsibility putting an album together. I had to rely on my own instinct as far as to where a song may need more or less instrumentation, if the lyrics make sense, if melody lines flow smoothly. Many things I had to think about and make an executive decision on.

Q: At the end of the song "Early Bird" we here you laugh with all your heart, the vibe is so good. We are curious to know what made you laugh?
A: Oh, that was my girl, Tricia Angus, who I love dearly. I featured her on the song. She is a fierce singer with a great personality! It was around 3 or 4 in the morning so, we were getting kind of crazy. The take she did was hot and I reacted by screaming at the end of the song. Of course, we were still in record. She bursts out with that laugh and I thought it was great. So, I left it in. By the way Tricia and I will be working together on her first solo project. I'm really excited about that!

Q: In this song we hear some African phrases/scats too, right?
A: I don't know what to call it! lol... We (she) was just in the moment. Tricia has some amazing vocal abilities. Her scatting is ridiculous. I can't wait for ya'll to hear her.

Q: Do you listen to African music as well?
A: Not on a regular, but when I do listen to it, I get so excited about the percussion. It's so hypnotic. It frees me when I dance to it.

Q: What song on this album expresses the most of you?
A: I'd say "Got To Let It Go." It pretty much sums up that time in my life I was going through some things personally. It's about acceptance.

Q: What was the last album you bought and why that particular album?
A: Aw man... I can't remember. It's been awhile. I really have to admit, I don't buy records until much, much later after their release. I'm playing catch up. I'd like to get the latest Prince album. He's another favorite of mine.

© 2005 SaveOurSoul
It's Personal
Angela Johnson - It's Personal Track Listing:
01. Only One
02. Hurts Like Hell
03. Be Myself
04. Better
05. Indie In Me
06. On The Radio
07. All In Me (Feat Darien)
08. Get Myself Together
09. For You
10. It's Personal
11. Days
A Woman's Touch Vol.1
Angela Johnson - A Woman's Touch Vol.1 Track Listing:
01. Intro
02. Dream Flight featuring Rahsaan Patterson
03. Here I Stand featuring Claude McKnight
04. That's Just The Way featuring Monet
05. Walkin' featuring Lisala
06. More Than You Know featuring Maysa
07. Should've Been There - Johnson, Angela
08. Let Me Know featuring Eric Roberson
09. Play featuring Frank McComb
10. Not The One featuring Tricia Angus
11. Get Away featuring Gordon Chambers
12. How Sweet Life Is featuring Julie Dexter
13. Wait On A Maybe featuring Marlon Saunders & Lenora Jaye
14. Cryin' Over U featuring Tricia Angus & Lisala
15. Amal featuring Ernesto Abreu
Got To Let It Go
Angela Johnson - Got To Let It Go Track Listing:
01. On My Way
02. Anything
03. I'll Always
04. Got To Let It Go
05. All I Need
06. Let's Get Together
07. You're Here With Me
08. Early Bird
09. Tell Me
10. Where's The Love?
11. Home Away From Home
12. Whatever It Takes
They Don't Know
Angela Johnson - They Don't Know Track Listing:
01. Intro
02. Rescue Me
03. After It's Gone
04. Sad Days
05. No Better Love
06. Cryin' Over U
07. They Don't Know
08. Ordinary Things
09. Call
10. Won't Say Sorry
11. Some Kind Of Wonderful
12. Don't Wanna Be The One
13. Kissing You
14. I Still Care
15. Money Don't Grow On Trees

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