Michael Johnson Photo
Singer/songwriterMichael Johnson got the adrenalin flowing in the audience when he opened a recent concert for Jim Ed Brown at Secrest Auditorium. Best known for his pop music career, Johnson prefers country music because he can put more of himself in it.

Michael Johnson and Jim Ed Brown light up the stage at Secrest Auditorium

By Pam Swingle/Lifestyle Editor
The TImes Recorder May 16, 1991

Starting when he was 13, and not disclosing his age now, Michael Johnson has been pickin' away for many years.

Playing a handmade, classic guitar called a Kohno, Johnson was the opening act for a recent concert at Secrest Audi- torium featuring Jim Ed Brown. Alone on stage, with only his guitar and unequaled voice, Johnson can perform as well as he can entertain.

Two pop songs which Johnson may be best known for are "Bluer Than Blue" and "This Night Won't Last Forever." In 1985 he did a duet with country singer Sylvia, "I Love You By Heart," and went on to record an album entitled "Wings" for RCA.

His lastest album, also on the RCA label. "That's That, " features another duet for which he paired up with Juice Newton. This song is entitled "It Must Be You."

Johnson prefers country music over pop even though that's not what he is known for. With country, he explained, he can get more of himself into the music, as he writes, co-writes and arranges. And, about six years ago he began playing on his records as well.

Although he lives in Nashville, Denver will always be home for this artist who loves classical music. "Those guys are lifers, real dedicated," he said, refer- ring to the musicians who play classical music.

Johnson knew what he wanted to do in life early on. He won a contest and won a recording contract. The song he recorded, "Hills," sold a total of 23 copies, but he also won a two-week engagement at a coffee house in Chicago. His prize was working there - it wasn't getting paid. After that he simply never quit.

Johnson is working on a new album which should be out sometime around August. And. he had some advice for hopeful musicians, "Don't quit ... get good."

Someone once told him to "get good" "get and "I thought it was the best advice in the world, because in a way, only you know the parts you need to work on. So, get good at those and if you're halfway talented you can hide the parts that don't shine. Be real if you can, if you can't get good."

At this point I must apoligze to both the performers and you, the readers, for missing a portion of each performer's show. I didn't have a chance to speak to Johnson before his performance so I talked with him while Jim Ed Brown was on stage and vice versa. But while talking with Jim Ed I could hear the audience laughing, clapping and, obviously, enjoying Johnson's performance. And the same applies to Jim Ed.

Getting a rather accidental start in the music business, Jim Ed has a long list of awards to his credit. Although each is special to him in its own way, he is proud of the fact that The Browns were the number one gospel group for eight years during the 1950s and early '60s.

Jim Ed and his sister, Maxine. started by listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio and singing along. Then they began singing regularly on a radio station and then, in 1954, wrote a song, "Looking Back to See." The song was rejected but a representative of Columbia Records heard them on Ernest Tubb's Midnight. Jamboree and liked their song. Bonnie, another sister, joined them in 1955 and, as they say, the rest is history.

In addition to The Browns, Jim Ed has had a successful solo career. When "Pop-A-Top Again" came along it was a real blessing. Being broke, and not knowing if he was going to make it in the music industry, Jim Ed was ready to go back to the saw mill to work. "Pop-A-Top Again" is just one of many hit songs he has enjoyed over the years.

Jim Ed teamed up with Helen Cornelius several times in the past and the two have been honored with a Duo of the Year Award. Jim Ed said he would like to win this award again, as he and Helen are working on a new album. He is also working on a solo album and another record by by The Browns should be out shortly.

One of greatest tributes that could be bestowed upon him is to be inducted into the hall of fame, according to Jim Ed. "That would be the greatest thrill of all to be recognized by your peers, he continued.

Jim Ed is looking forward to traveling abroad this year. But it seemed as though area residents would be more than happy to spend another evening in the future listening to Jim Ed, especially Mary Harris of Newark who was in the audience the night of his performance.

For his local concert, he was accompanied by a five-piece band and female singer, Christy Russell.