Tiffany Johnson
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Tiffany Johnson

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF

Nashville, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Band Pop Country


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Scuffed and Simple, April 2010



Tiffany Johnson: Dorothy Shoes and Rhythm & Blues

At the tender age of six, at a festival in Manning, South Carolina, Tiffany Anne Johnson sang in public for the first time.

Perched on an upright piano, her brown braids stuck full of bobby pins, Tiffany wore a pair of Buster Brown Mary Janes that her mother had rolled in glue and red glitter – her “Dorothy” shoes. She sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and the audience loved it. Tiffany recalls it as the moment she fell in love with music, performing, and people.

Now in Nashville, Tennessee, with her first full-fledged album in hand, a grown-up Tiffany Johnson is light years away from that precious beginning and looking back over the road she took to get here.

Scuffed and Simple
Tiffany’s debut CD is Scuffed and Simple. The title is taken from a line in “My Dorothy Shoes,” the tune she co-wrote about her small-town debut and the impact it had on her life‘s direction.

“That title reminds me a lot of myself,” she says. “I’m pretty simple and I’ve had some bumps and bruises but, just like the shoes, there’s a lot of potential there.”

“My Dorothy Shoes” was co-crafted by singer/songwriter Lionel Cartwright, who also produced much of the project. It’s the only one Tiffany wrote on, but all seven songs on Scuffed and Simple were chosen for their personal impact on her.

“For this project, I found the songs that I would have wanted to write; they communicate so many things very close to my heart,” she says. The messages are about growth, inspiration, real beauty, love and loss – all the pangs of the human experience, wrapped up in three or four minutes.

The chosen tunes also showcase Tiffany’s stunning range, from soaring ballads (“My Dorothy Shoes,” “Beautiful Woman”) to hot, hook-infused pop (“Shine,” “Love Me Anyway”), to R&B, both funky and soulful (“That’s How You Know It’s Working,” “When Something Is Wrong”), including a must-hear remake of Etta James’ “Sugar On The Floor.”

From Paxville to Nashville After her Dorothy debut, young Tiffany sang at fairs and pageants, and even with a country band in her tiny hometown. At 14, Tiffany began attending church and later studied music and ministry at a Christian college. After graduation, she moved to Nashville and began singing and leading worship at her new church home. Although she first pursued a Christian record deal, fellow artists urged Tiffany to explore new kinds of music – R&B and Motown, and artists like Aretha Franklin and Etta James – and to take her talent beyond church walls. With friends she formed a band, The Zodiacs, and began playing local clubs and events.
“That for me has been really huge in my journey as a singer and artist, discovering this whole genre of music I’d never sung,” she says. “I’d listened to some of it before, but just singing it for me was like putting on a pair of jeans that fit right.
I’m learning you can make an impact through any genre of music and really in any kind of venue,” she adds. “People are looking for inspiration and hope, and sometimes they don’t even realize what they are searching for, until they hear it through a song, or through the words we speak to them.”

Give Shoes
It seems Tiffany has come full circle: the girl with the Dorothy shoes connected with Soles4Souls, an international charity dedicated to providing shoes to people in need.

First through a benefit concert and later as a full-time representative of the charity, Tiffany took on the organization’s mission wholeheartedly and has traveled in and out of the country, singing, speaking, and lacing up shoes as a representative of Soles4Souls.

“There’s something about fitting somebody with a pair of shoes,” she explains. “You get down on the ground and you physically touch someone, and it‘s not so much about the shoes but about spending that moment with them and helping them know that they matter, right then and there.”
A portion of the proceeds from Scuffed and Simple will go to the organization she says has taught her what God’s work is all about.

“Through Soles4Souls, I am continually learning that it is so not about me; there’s this big world full of hurting people. We just have no idea what people are going through, internationally, and even next door, until we reach out and address their needs,” she says. “God has helped me understand that serving and loving others doesn’t have to be under a church steeple – even more so it’s got to be our daily relationships and what we’re doing to help people.”

Through her music, Tiffany hopes people will connect and relate to her journey. “I’m a work in progress,” she says. “I’ve made mistakes and I’ve learned from them and I wouldn’t take anything back. It doesn’t always feel great but it gives you perspective, and I’ve been able to help and understand others on a deeper level.”

Scuffed and Simple is surely a step in the right direction. Wit