George V Johnson Jr is a international recording artist and Master of the Art of Jazz Vocalese. A Complete Entertainer! One who specializes in writing and singing lyrics to Improvise solos. This lyricist, actor, playwright, producer, promoter, composer and contributing editor was born in Washington DC. He is also CEO and Founder of the Washington DC Jazz Network
“Vocalizing the Capital"
The George V Johnson Jr Story!
Born on December 20, in the heart of Washington D.C., George V Johnson Jr. was destined to fill the world with his distinctive vocal stylings. From his roots in the nation's capital, Johnson would go on to become one of the most respected and influential figures in jazz. This biography attempts to trace the life, career, and enduring legacy of this unique jazz artist.
George was introduced to music at a young age, growing up in a vibrant neighborhood pulsating with a mix of gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz. His father, George Sr., was an avid jazz fan who filled their home with the sounds of, Ray Charles, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cook, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, King Pleasure, James Brown, and particularly, Eddie Jefferson, the founder of the Art of Jazz Vocalese singing. (writing and singing lyrics to Improvised solos.) This early immersion played a vital role in shaping George's musical tastes and ambitions.
Upon graduating from Spingarn High School in 1968, George had already began gaining a local reputation for his smooth and distinctive voice.
He initially worked as a bus operator for WMATA, and was determined to make his mark in the jazz scene of Washington D.C., and he found his first opportunity when he was began performing at a local jazz club owned by guitarist Bill Harris called “PIGFOOT.”
With John Malachi, George refined his vocal skills, crafting his unique brand of vocalese that paid homage to his hero, Eddie Jefferson, while introducing his own dynamic flair. He quickly gained popularity, performing locally throughout the DMV and putting George on the jazz map.
In 1980, George caught the attention of the legendary saxophonist, James Moody, and he was asked to join Moody's band. This opportunity allowed George to expand his musicality, and he became known for his impressive ability to scat and sing complicated bebop mmelodies. While working as a trainman / conductor for NJT Rail and with Moody for nearly a decade becoming an internationally recognized jazz vocalist.
Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, George continued to carve his own path. He collaborated with a myriad of artists and worked on various projects, always staying true to his love for jazz. In 2008, he founded Jazz in Washington DC, bringing together jazz musicians from all over the world to his beloved home city.
Today, George V Johnson Jr. remains a symbol of passion and perseverance in the world of jazz. His contributions have made him a vital figure in preserving and promoting the jazz culture in Washington D.C. and around the world. Despite the obstacles he encountered along the way, George's story is an enduring testament to the power of music, determination, and love for one's roots.
His career spas over 45 years. After 3 years of close guidance and mentorship in 1977 he was named heir apparent and Next In LIne by the Father of Vocalese Eddie Jefferson,
He has shared the stage with many jazz giants including James Moody,
Dizzy Gillespie, Wallace Roney, Bobby Watson, Benny Golson, Rodney Whitaker, Jimmy Heath, Buck Hill, Marcus Belgrave, Cliff Monear and more.
His first self produced CD Next In LIne begins with a 16 second sound bite by Eddie Jefferson proclaiming him "Next in Line," featuring: Herman Foster and Arnold Sterling
George was privileged to make his recording debut with the legendary Pharoah Sanders on the LP "Rejoice" in 1981 featuring original lyrics to John Coltrane's Classic Moments Notice. Since retiring from New Jersey Transit Rail as a train conductor several years ago Johnson's career is on the move. Washington City Paper 2016 Best Vocalist of the Year. His recent tours and performances.include 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival "Hank's Symphony", Steinway Jazz Cafe * Chicago Jazz Showcase, Denmark, Israel, Parma Italy, Atlanta, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Jazz Mobile New York, Philadelphia, Montenegro with Madeinnyintl Jazz All-Stars performance for President Filip Vujanovic, Charlie Parker Celebration * Blue Room American Jazz Museum and the DC Jazz Festival at the National Gallery of the Art Sculpture Gardens entertaining more than 16,000 fans. He has produced "MONK" starring 5 time Adelco Award winning Actor Rome Neal @ Blair Mansions, Black Angels Over Tuskegee by Layon Gray @ Navy Memorial Museum, TUNISIA by Smokey Stevens and more..
In 2003, George V Johnson Jr. was commissioned by Don Sickler of Second Floor Music to pen lyrics to the music of jazz legend and saxophonist, Hank Mobley. Since taking on the project Johnson has skillfully, completed over 40 of Mobley’s classic compositions and still counting. Some with complete solo’s. Critics are already saying this is one of the most important and extensive projects to be presented to the public from the jazz vocalese realm in many, many years. With Jazz Vocalese, still in a state of infancy.
GEORGE V JOHNSON JR., whose marvelous lyrics and viocal work are truly auspicous! He sngs with James Moody on ocassion and is happily remindflul of the insistent giftness of the late EDDIE JEFFERSON. Johnson’s three stanzars close with ”Relax dig the sounds
of Coltrane’s Music. Coltrane fills your heart with love and harmony. Trane played with magic. Listen to the melodies and you will see momently. When you here the message of his song!”. There’s no doubt in my mind that henceforth George V Johnson should and will be sought for his own gift to the music. He sang the
the song for Sanders at the Village Vanguard, and Sanders “felt that George ought to be heard”.
Thank you, Pharoah Sanders for your spirit of sharing! Wheeeeee....what a dynamite track this is~~~~HERBIE WONG
With his extraordinary talent, dedication to his craft, and commitment to artistic integrity, George V Johnson Jr continues to make waves in the music world. His music touches the hearts and souls of listeners, solidifying his position as a true musical force to be reckoned with. As he continues to evolve and create, there is no doubt that George's impact on the music industry will endure for years to come.
George V Johnson Jr
Walk Spirit Talk Spirit
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