The congregation slowly begins to fill the seats while a soft Gospel melody is being played on the piano. Neatly dressed in a blue suit, Johnnie Williams starts singing, “This is the best place… Being in the house of God.” Hitting every rift and run, people wave their hands in the air feeling good and praising God. His voice soothed the listening ears with his words, that even with your eyes closed you envisioned serenity from his tone. The Preacher’s grandson voice is truly a gift that has enhanced since he began playing when he was sixteen, every Friday and Sunday in church, but no one had a clue that his passion outside church was R&B.
Some may argue that R&B music could be losing it’s touch to Pop music since current artist such as Rihanna, Beyonce, and Usher have had transitional success. Then there is autotune, which has been silenced and shunned by Jay- Z, but it hasn’t stopped artists who look for a more unique sound without belting out every song like Whitney Houstson, Jazmine Sulilivan, and Jeniffer Hudson. In some cases singers don’t feel the need to sing in key or at all, however, Johnnie Williams is the complete opposite.
Johnnie has been singing since the tender age of 8 in a church choir, “I like singing but I didn’t start until I was in he 10th grade. I went to my friend Kelly’s house and heard a group called HCL (High Class Lovers.) I went home and did my own demo and came back the next week and let them hear it, and they let me join. I listened to the demo recently, and that thing is the worst, I definitely gotten better.” Shortly after, HCL had changed their name to Prospect and won a talent show at Abington Senior high school. After their triumph the group parted ways, but Johnnie strived became great and he continued pursuing his music and began writing and producing with his band mate, Kelly. Johnnie’s hard work hadn’t gone unseen. Fortunately, he had the opportunity to meet Damon from the famous R&B group No Question, who discussed the possibilities of a comeback after the group’s hiatus, but this time with Johnnie as a member. After auditioning for it he became a member and they started working and completed 4 songs, but soon after differences erupted among the members about unmade promises that weren’t kept, “Deals with money were on the table and when it came down to it everything kept falling through, so I separated ties.”
Once the group fell through, that situation had not discouraged him, yet motivated him to focus on his own music. Johnnie went back on his grind at his in home studio where he produces 10-20 beats per week and writes all his material from his inspirations, “My inspiration comes from people around me, people I know, and people that touch me emotionally and personally.” Almost immediately, Johnnie had heard that MTV was having auditions for Diddy’s Making the Band, Season 4 in search for the next boy group, “I auditioned on Myspace and they gave me the VIP ristband so I din’t have to wait in line.” He went to a New York club where the auditions were held and sung Usher’s, “Let it Burn” for Michael Bivins, Slam, and Ankhra and was passed to the 2nd round. The next day Johnnie had to prepare for the combination of dancing and singing portion, “I got past the dance round but didn’t pass the singing round because I lost my voice after standing outside in the winter cold waiting for my auditions.”
Since his MTV auditions, he became good friends with Dyshon, who was a finalist on Making the Band and helped him with background vocals for Dayshon’s solo project as well as his own project. Currently, he’s constantly posting music on Youtube, and plans on taking Neyo’s place in the music industry as a writer, proudcer, and singer and doesn’t mind just writing for other artist, “I do music just to do it, I want a deal, but I do music for people and do songs to sell them.” His new single is called Confession (I Love You), which is a slow ballad written and produced by him that is receiving a lot of positive feedback, “It’s my favorite song I’ve ever recorded, because out of all the songs I’ve done, I let my all out on this one.”
By: Mereb Gebremariam | Beat-Play Ambassador Philadelphia | @MerebwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC