The worship leader of a 10,000-strong congregation in Woodstock, Georgia, Shelly E. Johnson started her music career in 2007 after graduating college. Her song “Power of the Cross” was awarded Song of the Year by the Gospel Music Association. This ultimately led to Johnson signing her first publishing and recording deal in 2011, as inked with the Nashville-based LifeWay Worship. Her January 2016 release Measureless debuted in the top 50 of iTunes with lead-off single “Loved Me First” holding the No. 1 spot at Christian radio for the entire month.
While we are only in September, Shelly E. Johnson has made the holiday season start early with Christmas Is Beautiful. Johnson’s first holiday album is set for an October 20, 2017 release, with its iTunes and Amazon pre-orders kicking off today, September 22. Johnson has kindly given the Inquisitr the opportunity to premiere two of the recordings from Christmas Is Beautiful, “O Holy Night” and “White Christmas.”
To learn more about Christmas Is Beautiful, I spoke with Johnson on behalf of the Inquisitr. More on the award-winning artist can be found at www.shellyejohnson.com.
How long did you spend recording Christmas Is Beautiful?
Shelly E. Johnson: We started writing for the album in January of 2017, and started the recording process in March of 2017. We recorded the entire album start to finish in three months.
Do you have a favorite song on Christmas Is Beautiful?
Shelly E. Johnson: Funny you should ask. I found myself telling my producer Sean several times throughout this process, “Oh, this is my favorite song! No wait, this is my favorite song!” I said that so much because they really are all my favorite song. One of the things I love about this album is the variety and creativity of every song.
A few weekends ago, a friend who was traveling with me on a tour date wanted to hear the Christmas album, so I played it for her. After hearing the entire thing, she said, “Wow, none of these songs sound the same, they are all so unique and so different. I love all of them!” It feels funny to say it, but we have so many genres of musical styles represented on this album: Inspirational, Modern Worship, Jazz, Big Band, Pop, Rock, Classical… It is such a fun collection of so many musical flavors, and I love all of them!
Christmas Is Beautiful was a fun one because it’s a similar sound to one of my favorite pop artists, Sara Bareilles, where it’s an uptempo piano-driven song that talks about why Christmas is beautiful to me. “Let It Snow,” “Chestnuts,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” all fall into the “jazz” category. Those three were super fun to work on because being a worship artist, I don’t ever get to sing or play that kind of music, so it was really fun getting to explore that area of music.
“Angels,” “Joy to the World,” “Noel,” “Silent Night,” “Gift of Love,” and “What a Savior” are all worship songs that I’m excited about because I think churches will love singing them and using them in their services. “O Holy Night” is a favorite “moment” for me on the album because it is only grand piano, strings and lead vocal. “O Holy Night” is my all-time favorite Christmas song, and I love this version of it we came up with. It has some classical piano elements and flavors that have always been such a big part of me growing up. And I’ve always loved string orchestras — I mean, who doesn’t? The sound of all those strings is so beautiful and moving, it brings tears to my eyes.
— Shelly E. Johnson (@shellyejohnson) September 19, 2017
After you are done with promoting Christmas Is Beautiful, what is coming up for your in your career?
Shelly E. Johnson: I have released a new project every year since 2012, and this Christmas album is by far the best thing I’ve ever done musically. I’ve invested more into this album and tour than anything I’ve done to date, so I’m thinking 2018 will be a year of rest, re-focus, and reflection for me as I dream, think, and plan for what’s next. The really exciting thing is we already have several tour requests for the Christmas 2018 tour, so I’m excited to dive back into that in 2018!
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
Shelly E. Johnson: Relaxing at home with my family! My husband and I have a 2-year-old daughter who is the absolute light of our lives. Becoming a mom has been the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. She is the sweetest thing I’ve ever experienced, and spending time with her and my husband is my favorite thing to do. We also love to travel and experience new places, especially getting to do that now with her and see the world through her eyes. It’s so fun!
Is there something you wish more people knew about you?
Shelly E. Johnson: Well, I’d love the whole world to know about this Christmas album! (laughs) But generally speaking, I feel like I’m an open book. My goal and mission has been the same since I was 14-years-old: to write and create music that points people to Jesus. Most people know the main things about me within the first several minutes of meeting and talking with me.
[Featured Image by Zuzana Korda]