Canadian country music star and hit singer-songwriter Carolyn Dawn Johnson is back with the release of her new single “Road Blocks”. Written by Johnson alongside Jennifer Lynn Kennard and Oscar Charles, the song encapsulates the resilience and determination needed to overcome life's obstacles and push through those roadblocks.
20 years after her initial trend-setting success and breakout hit “Complicated”, Carolyn Dawn Johnson remains a force and go-to in the country music industry and a live performer that leaves the audience hanging on every word. With 15 Top 20's and 10 Top 10's to date, she has racked up an impressive 17 Canadian Country Music Awards, a JUNO Award, and was crowned the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist in 2002. The following year, she was also recognised as The American Music Awards Favourite New Country Artist.
Thanks for taking the time to hang out this afternoon, let’s get straight in and talk about this new single. “Road Blocks” is the first track that you have put out in a while and I guess is the introduction to more music that is on the way, so why did you decide that this song was the best way to showcase the next chapter of Carolyn Dawn Johnson? “Thank you for that question, that’s a great question, with putting “Road Blocks” out first, I really did think about it a lot. There’s a lot of different stories on this record but in my mind, this one always flet like it was going to be me re-entry into the world of putting music out because I’ve had a lot of things in my life over the last few years, over a while actually but let’s be honest, who doesn’t have things happen in their life? I just wanted to say to the audience and my fans, hey, I’ve had some stuff but I’m now ready and willing to go back out in the ring. It’s not that I ever left it because I’m always doing something like writing, collaborating, being on the road and I still play live but I haven’t really put out anything that say hey, here’s me and what I do. This is like my re-entry and made me want to say this because it’s like an activist song then I’m going to show you a whole bunch of other stuff too but I needed to let you know why I haven’t been around in front of you for quite a while.” Has this felt different in terms of the build-up to putting this track out compared to when you have put music out before? You know, we had that crazy spell of being stuck at home playing real life Jumanji for two years and the realms of social media with how that becomes a part of being an artist. How much more to think about now when you are not reinventing yourself as such but coming back and possibly having to do things a different way to how you may have been doing before? “That’s also a great question. I haven’t put music out in this environment so it has felt different. When I went o have some meetings with some different people and to see if I was going to join forces with different companies and immediately every single one was you need to up your social media and you need to get in front of the camera more. I’m a single mom of two kids that’s running round doing this and that, I don’t know if I have time for that all the time, I’m fitting my music in because it’s still my job but then you add that other layer into it and I don’t know how I’m going to do this but I guess if this is the world that we’re in I need to do this stuff. You get some people around you that help you and nudge you here and there a little bit with here is what we need with this and I’m like gosh, who decided all of these rules? I get it though, every phase of whatever the music business is, or any business for that matter, if there is something that is going on and someone is not willing to do that, that’s your choice but there is always someone else that is willing to do that. It’s how do you get heard in all of the noise? I’m hoping that the music will peek through, expand people’s hearts when they listen to it and that they get inspired but the only way that I can get people to listen and do all the things that I’m saying is by letting them know that I have new music! Reality is that it is a different world, it’s not just going to radio, it’s not just people reading newspapers or magazines, it’s working this new world online!”
Looking further ahead beyond “Road Blocks” have you got any sort of tease or timeframe that you could share about where we are with a bigger project that may be on the way? “Yes, so I’m hoping to have everything mixed by the end of the year, well I say end of the year but it will probably be before then as time flies pretty fast because we’re working on this right now and I’m going to put out another song fairly soon because of how everything seems to work. I do have a twelve song full project that is ready to unfold after this so, once again this is my re-entry and then I’m going to start introducing all of the other stories on this record. I’m really excited to put out a whole album, several people asked if I wanted to do an EP or an album and I’m an album artist with so much to say. I really didn’t want to make another record until I had something to say and I feel like I do again so I hope people relate to this stuff, I think they will as it’s heartfelt music where some of it rocks, some of it’s really edgy and there is also stuff that just grabs you and isn’t edgy at all, it’s just going to be telling part of my story that I think a lot of people are going to relate to.”
I just wanted to touch on a few things from the CCMA’s from last month. You performed with High Valley at the show to sing on “Do This Life” but how do you know Brad (Rempel) and how did you end up getting to be Alison Krauss for the night?
“Well Brad and I actually go back quite a way. Him and his brothers opened for me probably like twenty years ago, I can’t remember exactly what year it was. We’re both from the same kind of area in northern Alberta and they opened for me a long time ago, they were so sweet and then I did a tour in 2010 for my “Love Rules” album where they opened for me on some of those dates. We’ve done a few things together but we got to reconnect in the last year or so because our kids actually go to the same school so, we’ve got to hang out at a few basketball games and stuff like that. One day he just called me and asked if I wanted to do this as Alison was not going to be there and I was going to be there so I’m like let me think about it, erm yes I would love to sing it. I love this song, I love Alison and am so thankful that she wasn’t there so I was able to sing it and be on the show. Those guys are just first class, good people, funny, talented and all of these things so I had a great time doing that, our voices blended really well together and we had fun. I was pretty thankful and honoured to be back up on the stage with these awesome guys so it was a good time.” Then the other thing at the awards was another lady from Alberta equalled you and Michelle Wright for most ‘Female Artist of the Year’ wins. Tenille (Townes) is one of my favourite songwriters and performers and she is leading an incredibly talented group of Canadian girls right now where there is MacKenzie (Porter), Lindsay (Ell), Jess Moskaluke, Meghan Patrick, Madison Kozak and obviously the other Tenille (Arts) too. How exciting is it for someone like you to be seeing this emergence of a vast amount of female talent coming out of Canada right now? “I’m a big fan of every single one of those girls, they’re all really talented and I love watching this happen. I feel like we have got a really great crop of female artists and here’s what I know: if you’re going to go out there and actually try to make it in this business, I know that you’ve got to have something inside you. I mean, you’ve got to have some oomph and you have got to believe because this is an industry that if you don’t really love it and really want to do music, you truly can get eaten up and spit out pretty quickly. I have a lot of respect for these women who have come up the ranks, are doing what they are doing and especially in a time like what we were talking about a little bit earlier where there are so many other aspects to being an artist. That is a lot! I love them all, I’m proud of them, I know every single one of those girls that you’re talking about and I’m always cheering them on. I know how hard they are working to have what is going on in their lives in this business.”
Lastly, do fancy following what all those girls are doing and coming back over here to see us at some point? “Oh gosh, I would love to come over there. I went over there a long time ago, I remember doing a bunch of interviews and a few shows where some of the people said you’re going to come back right? I had said yes I am, but I didn’t. There was a bunch of crazy stuff that happened in my career and then life got totally in the way but I loved it when I was over there. I do feel like there are some fans over there that like to see me sing so, that is something that is on my radar.”
The new single “Road Blocks” from Carolyn Dawn Johnson is out now and available HERE. You can keep up to date with all that Carolyn is up to by checking out her WEBSITE or socially on INSTAGRAMTIKTOKTWITTER or FACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks