Jennifer Johns
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Jennifer Johns


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The best kept secret in music



Oakland native Jennifer Johns will inevitably draw comparisons to Jill Scott, and possibly to fellow Oakland Youth Chorus alumnus Goapele, but be clear: Johns is her own artist. From the opening 808 kick of "Heavy" to the spoken word/d&b of "Do You Believe In Love" to the doleful ambitious cover of Sade's "Cherish The Day," Johns proves that she's an original voice.
-Ross Hogg - XLR8R

"Love Johns"

Fresh off a European jaunt singing backup for Blackalicious's Gift of Gab, 25-year-old Oakland-born and bred soulstress Jennifer Johns hits it solo tonight to perform tracks from her debut EP, Heavyelectromagneticsoularpoeticjunglehop (NAYO Movement Music). Like its mouthful of a title suggests, Johns's musical offering merges elements from all over the place, from the bumping drum 'n' bass rhythms of its title track to a dreamy Massive Attack-style treatment of "Cherish the Day." And while covering someone as singular as Sade might prove tricky for many up-and-coming artists, Johns's husky, honeyed vocals possess a polish and poise (honed through her years with the Oakland Youth Chorus and performances with artists like De La Soul, Medusa, and Mystic, no doubt) that anchor the track, and the entire album, in Johns's eclectic yet organic sound. Encore (Hieroglyphics) and Theory also perform. 10 p.m., Club Q, 61 Golden Gate, S.F. $10. (415) 255-1668,
-Sylvia W. Chan - San Francisco Bay Guardian

"Yes Yes Y'all - Don't get Jennifer Johns "turmoiled.""

I hope there's enough room for more spank out there," says Jennifer Johns. The 26-year-old Oakland-based singer is calling in mere hours before catching a flight to Europe, where she'll perform in France and Germany, before returning to the bay. She explains that, due to some recent eye-opening experiences, "There's a little bit more spank to my voice, just because I'm feeling something different." In the past, she says, "I might have been more gentle."
Specifically, what's got Johns' dander up is the state of humanity, and the state of our youth today, which has her feeling, as she puts it, "turmoiled." It's a subject she explores in depth in the poignant "Ghetto Stories," a duet with fellow Oaklander Mystic from her debut CD, Heavyelectromagneticsoularpoeticjunglehop. Johns calls Mystic "one of the kindest, most mellow, honest, compassionate sisters I've ever met." Plus, she adds, "She is straight out the town." The two talk often, Johns says, noting that Mystic, who lives in Los Angeles now, wants to know how the young people are doing in Oakland, and what's happening in the bay these days in general. Meanwhile, Johns is reconsidering her creative process: "I haven't figured out the definitive state of my mind yet."

In the meantime, she's going wherever the flow takes her, be it Elysée-Montmartre, Honolulu, or Düsseldorf (where she's slated to sing the national anthem for the NFL World Bowl). Such tempest-like activity only adds fuel to Johns' fire. A couple of weeks back, after performing at Los Angeles' Templebar, she drove up to SF to perform at Carnaval on two hours' sleep, then coheadlined with Jean Grae later that night at Oakland's 2232 MLK.

Anyone who has seen Johns perform can attest to her passionate intensity live. Being onstage, she says, gives her that little something extra she just can't get from studio recording. "It's an ebb and flow between the artists onstage and the people in the audience," she explains. "I definitely believe in the 'yes yes y'all' factor, the call-and-response, whatever you want to call it."

Jennifer Johns opens for Mystic Saturday night at Berkeley's Shattuck Down Low.

-Eric K. Arnold

- East Bay Express


Label: Nayo Movement Music
Release date: 2004


Feeling a bit camera shy


Innovative, driven, compassionate, and powerful......just a few words that come to mind when attempting to describe Oakland, CA born singer, songwriter, and spoken word artist Jennifer Johns. Since birth, Jennifer has been making this world "just a little bit more melodic" with her sometimes boisterous, some times soft, but always powerful voice. If you were to ask her when she started singing she would say, "I don't remember a day that I didn't." However, her first experience on stage was at church at the tender age of 3 and she hasn't stopped since. Reflecting on her diverse musical influences as a youth, from Earth, Wind and Fire, Phoebe Snow, and Sade, to Paul Simon, Whitney Houston and Sweet Honey in the Rock, as well as the West Indian rhythms that filled her home as a youngster. And then there was hip-hop….

Jennifer says it was somewhere between Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh's "The Show," Rakim's "Know What's on Your Mind" and Queen Latifah's "Ladies First" that she first fell in love with hip-hop music and soon identified herself as a part of the culture. She says "just as I am music, I am hip hop." At 13 Jennifer pursued her love of music by joining the award winning Oakland Youth Chorus where she studied music in numerous languages under the tutelage of nationally revered conductors Trente Morante, Elizabeth Seja Minn, and Grammy nominee Melonie DeMore. Jennifer soon graduated to OYC's professional acappella ensemble, Vocal Motion, where she was afforded the opportunity to work and perform with such musical luminaries as Nancy Wilson, Roberta Flack, Peabo Bryson, Melissa Manchester, and James Ingram.

At 17, Jennifer began to look deeper into a professional career in music and began performing locally in Oakland. Three years later, after making "a little noise" at home, she decided it was time to move to Los Angeles where she quickly built a name for herself and began recording with Goodvibe Recordings artists The Anonymous and BIG DRO.

During her time in Los Angeles, Jennifer became a member of both SAG and AFTRA, securing voiceover work for commercials with the LA Weekly, Macy's, and Pacific Bell. She also stayed busy building entertainment, the media company she founded in 2001 that produced live music and spoken word events, which quickly became a staple in the rapidly growing Los Angeles spoken-soul community. In 2003, having built her fan base through, Jennifer made the decision to isolate herself in Seattle to record songs for an upcoming project.

And now, with the release of her new EP heavyelectromagneticsoularpoeticjunglehop, which was co-produced by Grammy nominee Spontaneous on her own label, Nayo Movement Music, Jennifer is set to give the world a taste of her "Electric Soul." With the release of Jennifer's EP heavy…, listeners can expect some of what you love about Sade, a lot of what we needed from Lauryn, the warmth and conversational energy of Jill and the mystery of Dido. Hands down Jennifer Johns is a heavyelectromagnetic force to be reckoned with.

Recently, Jennifer has performed around the US with artists like Common, KRS-1, De La Soul, John Legend, Medusa, Gift of Gab, Souls of Mischief and Mystic. In addition, Ms. Johns has toured in Europe on a 6-week tour with Blackalicious and recently performed with KRS-1 in Paris and sang the national anthem at Europe’s NFL WorldBowl in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Head to a retailer near you and grab that EP to see what the heavyelectromagnetic buzz is all about!!!