Singer to bring an American blend to Field Hall on Friday

Stephanie Anne Johnson learned by traveling on cruise ships

Stephanie Anne Johnson will sing blues, Americana and possibly the Beatles this Friday night at Field Arts & Events Hall.

Stephanie Anne Johnson will sing blues, Americana and possibly the Beatles this Friday night at Field Arts & Events Hall.

PORT ANGELES — The household was crowded, joyfully crowded with soulful music makers, Stephanie Anne Johnson remembers. James Brown was there, with Bobby Blue Bland, Del Shannon — “and Johnny Mathis at Christmas,” added Johnson, who’ll bring their own mix to Field Arts & Events Hall this Friday night.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. at 201 W. Front St. Tickets, which start at $15, are available at fieldhallevents.org.

“Growing up in my house, there was a diversity of music, which I’m really grateful for,” Johnson recalled. “My granddad was into ’50s rock’n’roll. For my grandmother, it was blues during the week and gospel on Sunday.”

Now a singer of all things American — from blues and jazz to country — they learned chops while traveling the world on cruise ships in their mid-20s.

Johnson would hear a request from a passenger, download the song and learn to sing it within 24 hours. People would also ask for pop classics, as in the Everly Brothers’ “I Blessed the Day I Found You,” and any number of Beatles songs.

“That’s when I learned a lot about songwriting,” Johnson said, adding they’ve been known to do a particular interpretation of “Here There and Everywhere” and an island-flavored “All My Loving.”

Time on cruises “taught me people skills, how to talk, how to listen,” and how to command the room, banishing the stage fright that had plagued them in younger years. This served Johnson in their turn on “The Voice” in 2013.

At their Field Hall show, Johnson will have a full band ready to play songs from their third album, “Jewels,” released last year. And therein lies the singer’s message for the audience.

“One of the things I really strive for as a performer is to make sure a lot of different kinds of people feel welcome at my show,” Johnson said.

“I want to let people know: ‘Jewels’ is about you and me. I believe everyone is a gem, a jewel.”

Might there be any covers? Perhaps, Johnson says. A Dolly Parton number is possible — “I love Dolly Parton and the way she has carried herself, since she began” — along with a Bonnie Raitt song and shout-outs to B.B. King and Freddie King.

“And I love Muddy Waters,” Johnson added with gusto.

“There may or may not be a prominent Beatles cover,” but the audience will just have to see.

Last December, Johnson opened for R & B-soul artist Macy Gray at Field Hall.

“I met some wonderful folks last time and I’m hoping to see some of them again,” the singer said.

Johnson also is known for hosting “The Grooveyard,” a Saturday soul-blues-jazz program on KNKX public radio. The description of the show at KNKX.org notes Johnson’s mantra: “Find your joy and go there.”

That’s exactly where Johnson plans to go this Friday when they step on stage.

“I really do believe part of my purpose is to be resonant and make a joyful noise.

“I’m standing in my purpose, doing something I love.”

________

Diane Urbani de la Paz is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Port Townsend.

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