McNally Smith is pleased to announce that accomplished singer/songwriter and guitarist Michael Johnson has joined the school’s Composition and Songwriting faculty. Johnson brings to the College nearly five decades of professional experience, and an intimate knowledge of many musical styles ranging from folk to pop to soft rock and country. He has charted four songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and nine songs on the Hot Country Songs charts.
“Michael Johnson has achieved an enormous amount of success during his career as a singer/songwriter,” says Composition and Songwriting Department Head Sean McMahon. “His guitar playing is distinctive and his lyrics are extremely relatable — they probe into the human condition and really make the listener feel something. The wisdom he’ll be able to impart upon our students will be a tremendous boon as they begin their own careers as performers and songwriters.”
Though Johnson refuses be pigeonholed stylistically, his trademark is a mellow, pleasant tone that is present throughout his 15 studio albums. A Twin Cities resident, Johnson began playing guitar as a teenager growing up in Denver before moving to Barcelona at 21 to study with classical guitar legend Graciano Tarrago. Upon Johnson’s return to the U.S. a year later, he joined folk group the Chad Mitchell Trio and co-wrote songs with a young John Denver.
In the early ‘70s Johnson embarked on a solo career, releasing three albums before signing with EMI and breaking through with hit single “Bluer Than Blue,” which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1978. Signing to RCA in 1985 and relocating from the Twin Cities to Nashville, Johnson adopted a contemporary country style. The change proved successful, as he scored five Top Ten country hits including two Number Ones in “Give Me Wings” and “The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulder.”
Johnson has performed and/or collaborated with several acclaimed musicians and artists, including Judy Collins, George Carlin, Vince Gill, Andy Kaufman, Alison Krauss, Michael McDonald, Roger Miller, Bill Monroe, John McLaughlin, Josh White Sr., Cheryl Wheeler, David Sanborn, Wynonna Judd, Trisha Yearwood, Jennifer Warnes and several prominent symphony orchestras.
After 20 years of living and working in Nashville, Johnson moved back to the Twin Cities in 2012. He continues to perform frequently, both stateside and abroad.
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