Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Behind the Scenes with Shaun Johnson

1. Do you ever get nervous before a performance?
I do tend to get nervous before a performance. Often, the first song (and the audience's response) dictates the feel of each show for me. I have gleaned tips and tricks from voice lesson teachers and mentors to lessen the impact of that initial adrenaline rush, but I don't know that I've ever stepped on stage without a bit of fear. Healthy? I hope so. Too, it is easier for me to sing for strangers and much more difficult if I have close friends and family that I can see. I suppose I watch their reaction more closely and lose myself a little less in the songs.

2. Who is your favorite singer?

My favorite singer changes with my favorite ice cream. By that I mean that I love ALL ice cream and am willing to try any flavor that is labeled as such. I typically download 10 to 20 songs per week... artist's I've recently discovered or been turned on to by friends, artists I've read about or met in passing. I hesitate to make a list, as I will read the list next week and wonder what I was thinking. While I answered emails last night, my playlist included: "Golden" by Lady Antebellum, "February Seven" by the Avett Brothers, "Here Comes My Man" by the Gaslight Anthem, "The Way You Look Tonight" by Adam Levine, "The Man Comes Around" by Johnny Cash, "Let it Be" the Beatle's "naked" mix, "The Sound of a Million Dreams" by David Nail, "One Lovely Day" by Citizen Cope, "Runaways" by the Killers, "Everybody Talks" by Neon Trees, "No Words" by the Script, "Gawd Above" by John Fullbright, and "I've Got a Crush on You" by Mayer Hawthorne.

3. What is your most memorable performance?
I would have to say my most memorable performance - as of late - was actually in my adopted hometown, Saint Cloud, MN. After we had finished the final chord of"Hallelujah" (about 1/2 way through the first half that evening), a gentleman from the balcony to my right stood up and shouted "Bravo!" I've performed on 1000's of stages over the last decade and don't remember that ever happening. Sometimes, it's the little things...

4. Which venue is your favorite (in which to perform)?
Typically, we perform in theaters, and some theaters definitely give off a vibe because of their history or because of cutting-edge technology, etc. But I have to say that my favorite venue always comes down to the people who populate it. Whether we perform for 30,000 or 30, the show's success hinges on the relationship between myself and the audience members. When those two are in synch, there is absolutely no better rush.

5. What is your all time favorite song?
Unfortunately, I don't have an all time favorite song. I like songs for different reasons... for perfection, for storytelling, for mood and emotion. To me, music can bridge all gaps. Two people who don't understand each other's dialects can still find common ground in a melody. I wish that, like a movie, our lives had a soundtrack, and I suppose (in some ways) they do. So at this moment, I may love Ray Charles, and his expression may fit my needs but in a few minutes, I will be moved by an up and coming songwriter from Nashville.

6. What is your favorite song to perform?

Oftentimes I like to perform the song that is the newest to the show. At that point, I am still experimenting... still a bit nervous... and am not sure where the song will "go," or where it might fit. The newest songs tend to have an energy that can't be exactly duplicated as the song ages. Currently, I love performing our version of "Spiderman."

7. What is the funniest thing that ever happened during a performance?

We are a fairly loose group and are able to roll with the proverbial punches. Sometimes, the funniest moments are inside jokes with a bunch of guys you have gotten to know throughout the tour. I'm not sure if it's funny, but I once performed at a college in West Virginia (which shall remain nameless) during Thanksgiving break. The people who hired us forgot that nearly the entire student body would be gone. so we ended up performing for a few foreign exchange students who could not return home for the holidays, and some food service workers who'd pop their heads out from the kitchen in between baking tasks.

8. What is the largest audience you have performed for? 
32,000 people. The size was a little disconcerting. I remember seeing people clap and cheer but then hearing those cheers seconds later. However, I think I could get used to it. Ha!

9. What is Jay Leno like?
I met him briefly before a show in Southern California. I'm sure he remembers me clearly. Okay, maybe not. He looked just like he did on TV, but we did not become friends. He watched a bit of our show and we watched a little of his.

10. What is your favorite book?
I like anything that is historical and/or non-fiction. However, my dad used to tell me that learning should be a challenge (Chemistry for me), so I do try to deviate... to push the boundaries. Recently I loved a short book entitled "The River of Doubt" (about Theodore Roosevelt) and am currently reading "Why Does the World Exist."

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