Ellen Johnson

Ellen Johnson

BandJazzSpoken Word

Singer, lyricist, song writer, poet and educator whose 4 octave range, beauty of tone and strong emotional expression incorporates the improvisational mannerisms of Urszula Dudziak, the poetic flair of Joni Mitchell along with the soulful and creative spirit of Betty Carter.



The buzz about Ellen Johnson keeps getting stronger with her latest release, "These Days". Ellen, featured in DownBeat Magazine March issue, has already received recognition from the LA Times, Jazz Improv Magazine, Jazz Journal International, JazzTimes, All About Jazz, Music Connection and many other publications with such comments as “one of the best albums to be heard by a no nonsense jazz singer in the past year”, “an album that raises the level of jazz singing by one notch”, “superior jazz singing by an artist of the highest quality who deserves to he heard much more often” and the 2006 top jazz vocalist (Tribuna Bis, Brazil) along with Dianne Reeves and Diana Krall.

It’s clear that Ellen Johnson is bringing a new dimension to the plethora of jazz vocalists.
Ellen Johnson began her performing career in Chicago singing everything from folk, pop, blues, jazz, musical theater, and classical repertoire. She has sung and studied with many exceptional musicians including Louie Bellson, Bobby McFerrin, Sheila Jordan, Charles McPherson, Roy McCurdy, Pete Christlieb, John Clayton, Don Braden, Kim Richmond, Willie Pickens, Gene Aitken and many more. Her two jazz CD's, “Too Good To Title” and “Chinchilla Serenade”, have received critical acclaim and international airplay even receiving Editors Choice in Cadence Magazine.

Her current CD, "These Days", focuses on her love of bass and voice duets and features bassist extraordinaire, Darek Oles. It also features Sheila Jordan singing a duet with Ellen on her original composition, “The Crossing”, in special tribute to Ellen’s mentor and special friend. It is this kind of creativity, spontaneity and depth that inspires Ms. Johnson to stray from the pack and find inventive new ways to express herself as an artist. She writes lyrics and poetry, contributing to already published compositions from Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Rick Helzer, and others. Her poetry can be heard on "These Days" with a tribute to Sheila Jordan and a new project on the way. As an accomplished songwriter she received an award from Just Plain Folks at their 2002 music awards out of 100,000 songs for her original wordless composition “Chinchilla Serenade”.

After initiating her own media and record label, Vocal Visions, (in 1990), Ellen has expanded her company to include Vocal Visions Media Group. The media group is re-imagining the way record companies operate using the technology of the future. Her roster of artists along with an innovative way to market and encourage music sales and visibility is what makes this boutique indie label unique and trend setting. As a producer she has made 8 CD’s including publishing an instructional warm up and ear training CD for voice (with a new one on the way), and an original poetry and music CD. Bruce Crowther mentions her in the 1997 published book "Singing Jazz" for her jazz artistry and he includes her company in a group of independent record labels for which he gives recognition.

Her other professional ventures include recording for jingles, film scores, and other projects not to mention collaborating with the great songwriter, Hugh Martin, who wrote about her singing abilities: “I’m at a loss for words to praise your voice. It deserves adjectives that haven’t been invented yet regarding its beauty of tone, range, and perfect intonation.” She has been a featured soloist for many performances of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts filling the shoes of soloist Alice Babs so well that even the late Stanley Dance commented how good her renditions were in comparison. Ellen’s versatility for many styles of music contributed to her winning a finalist slot in the American Traditions Vocal Competition where she performed jazz, musical theater and classical renditions of songs for a prestigious panel of judges that included Della Reese, Charles Strouse, William Warfield, George Shirley and others.

Ms. Johnson, who has a Masters degree from San Diego State University in Vocal Performance has been on the voice faculties of the University of San Diego, the Old Globe Theatre’s Masters of Fine Arts program and has given master classes in vocal jazz at the University of Southern California. She was in the “Who’s Who of Americas Teachers 2002” and was a keynote speaker on the “Art Song of Duke Ellington” for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) international conference. She served as President and founder of the Jazz Vocal Coalition (JZVOC, www.jzvoc.org), past Jazz Editor for Singer&Musician Magazine, past president of the San Diego Chapter of NATS, and was the California vocal jazz representative for the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE). She has been a panelist for several music industry and vocal conferences that included a variety of industry professionals and artists such as Alan Paul (Manhattan Transfer), Derek Sivers (CD Baby), Barbara Morrison, Jeff We


Nostalgia In Times Square

Written By: Ellen Johnson

We miss him,
We miss him,
We're missin' the magic moments spent with Mingus.
We dig him,
We love him,
So grateful he left us all his special music.
And what a hip bass he played for us,
Nostalgia for Mingus.

I miss them
I miss them
I'm missin' the magic moments spent in times square.
I need them,
I want them,
I wanna get back to New York and to Times Square,
Seein' all the lights and hearin' jazz,
Nostalgia in Times Square.
©2004 Long Snows Moon Music

With Every Kiss (Song For Frances)

Written By: Ellen Johnson

With every kiss she inspires a song
With every touch her smile leads you along
On a ride
Deep inside her soul
You’re her child and as pure as gold.

And when she laughs all the world will cry
To see her beauty light the sky
Stars twinkling in her eyes

She sends you love as she sings you to sleep
She wraps up hope in your pillow to keep
When she’s gone you are never, never alone
For her heart is forever your home.


•These Days
-features Sheila Jordan, Darek Oles, Larry Koonse,
Roy McCurdy, and Ana Gazzola
•Chinchilla Serenade
-features Peter Sprague, Rick Helzer, Gunnar Biggs,
Bob Magnusson, Tommy Aros, Duncan Moore,
John Leftwich, John Reckivics
•Too Good To Title
-features Charles McPherson, Rick Helzer, Rob
Thorsen, Tim McMahon
- 2008 "From A Mother's Heart" featuring Sheila Jordan, Don Braden, Judi Silvano, John Stowell, etc.
-2007 "Illuminations" featuring Don Braden, Rick Helzer, Brasil Brazil, etc.
-2005 "Jazz Vocal Coalition CD"
•The Vocal Warm Up CD

CDs and downloads available at:

Set List

Set list available on request
(Varies according to engagement: from Standards,
Originals, Jazz Greats (Mingus, etc.), Contemporary
songs rearranged in a jazz style, etc.)