What is your name? My real name is Bruce Lester Johnson and my artist name is Bruce Mississippi Johnson.
What is your genre of music?
I call my genre of music blue soul because it’s a mix of blues and soul.
Give us a little bio about you.
Born in Mississippi the heart of the musically fertile area that is America’s ‘deep south’, Bruce Johnson is a man who was born to sing. As a child in his grandfather’s church, and later, in the company of his father’s record collection he got the kind of musical education most folks can only dream about. Listening to soulful voices like Al Green, his cousin Jackie Wilson, Lou Rawls and Gil Scott Heron, Bruce discovered he could sing.
Towards the end of his stint serving his country as a Marine that realisation dawned on Bruce that that he had been put here to sing, and he began to perform. Playing in Africa and performing the songs of Gil Scott Heron he began to find his feet as a frontman. Upon leaving the military and finding himself in Paris, he began to perform taking on as many gigs as he could and quickly gaining notice for his one of a kind voice and his one of a kind looks. Nobody failed to see his six foot four frame as he took the stage, but when it gave fly to the effortlessly soulful bass baritone voice that is his true blessing, the audiences were truly spellbound.
Having formed a formidable reputation on the Parisian Jazz scene, he began to work with the luminaries of the city, musicians that had played with stars like Stan Getz and Sammy Davis Jr. With his reputation on the rise he branched out and formed a band of his own making him a leading light in the funk scene. Bruce and his band were asked to perform in a competition judged by the one and only Nina Simone. When they won the competition it gave him the chance to record his first single and forever cemented his reputation as a star in the city.
It wasn’t long before he began to crave an earthier sound, something more akin to the music that came from the delta region that was his home. The chance came with the offer to join the legendary blues bassist Big Joe Turner’s band Blues Caravan as a vocalist. Joe had toured in BB King’s band as well as with Albert King and Little Milton, and showed Bruce the truth in the music and gave him a chance to tour the world.
His time in Turner’s band saw him forming a solid bond with the keyboard player, and saw the two begin to write and demo songs that would eventually become Bruce’s solo album, The Deal Baby. With a sound that straddles blues and soul, it’s as original and inventive as the man himself, and has seen him garner attention from radio stations and press from around the world.
His fame in France saw him asked to compete on their version of The Voice, where his astonishing performances and astounding voice landed him a gig with French band Forever Gentlemen. With that band’s album of jazz vocal standards hitting triple platinum status the accolades that his singular voice deserves are starting to roll in.
Bruce has a voice of his own, one that straddles soul, blues and jazz, as at home singing the songs of Sinatra, Marvin Gaye or BB King as he is with his own heartfelt compositions. On stages and in studios across Europe, Bruce Johnson is a force to be reckoned with.
What made you go in to music?
I started singing in my mid-teens but only as a hobby which I practised with my close school friends. During my high school years I performed publicly as a soloist once at my high school talent show and once or twice at my church and those performances sparked something new inside of me but I had already made the grounded decision to join the U.S. Marines straight out of high school so music would have to wait. I quickly understood that I was not military career material and after 6 of the 7 years that I served where I was generally unhappy the opportunity to take my singing to another level appeared and I took it with both hands leaving the Marines behind me as I dove into my new singing career!
Are you a signed?
No I am not. My album was auto produced by myself and friend /pianist Johan Dalgaard.
You are set to release your new album ‘The Deal Baby’, what can you tell us about it?
“The Deal Baby” my first album consists of 12 songs situated between blues and soul music with funky beats and glimpses or bluesy rock guitars. It was recorded in Paris, France where I lived for many years. The album was mixed by Grammy award winning sound engineer Veronica Ferrora outside of Paris.
What was the recording process like?
We recorded the album in about a week’s time in a couple of studios around Paris. The band took three days to record all of the songs with me singing along for emotional and structural guidance and then we took a couple of extra hours to record the horns in another studio and finally we recorded some additional vocals and keyboards in our respective home studios to keep down studios costs.
What was the writing process like?
It was as easy and a real pleasure! Johan and I met at my place over a few afternoons and we bounced ideas off each other in my little home studio. Johan established a chord progression which we both liked and I would spontaneously start singing the first thing that came to mind. If we found a bridge we would work on it and if we didn’t we’d keep on advancing and revisit what we had started until we were done. We wrote 12 songs and kept 11 so nothing was wasted.
Describe each track two words?
1. Let It Rain (Intro)
2. That’s The Deal Baby: Living truthfully.
3. I Can’t Shake The Blues: Blues music
4. Years, Tears: Heartbreak
5. You Been Working’ Mojo: Love spell
6. I’m Gonna Bring Your Game Down: Foolish pride
7. Freak On Or Die: Hot Sex
8. No Good: Self pity
9. I’ll Bleed: Temptation
10. The Neighbour Next Door: Infidelity
11. See You Tomorrow: Death
12. Let It Rain (outro)
Who did you show The Deal Baby to first?
The day we mastered the album was on my birthday and my wife had organised the best surprise birthday party ever for me! She has contacted all of my best Parisian friends which covered 20 years of friendships and they we all present and as everyone knew but me Johan and another friend managed to get me to the party venue where I played the finished master for my friends.
The Album launch is on the 28th May, what can we expect from it?
A rock solid band of 7 musicians plus myself playing the whole albums top to bottom plus a select number of some of my all time favourite funky soulful blues covers which inspires my style of blues. I just want to put it all on table in the most truthful way possible because that what I am about.
Do have any support acts?
At the moment there is no support act and at this stage the wait has been too long for me to delay my desire to get out there and play MY music!
Where can tickets be purchased?
Bookings can be made by phone at +44(0) 7352 5953 or online at 606club.co.uk
Do you play any instruments?
No I don’t unfortunately as I am a self taught composer who has to sit at a piano and painfully figure out note for note how to play what I’m hearing in my head but only to a certain degree after which I have to pester my patient and talented musician friends to help me to harmonically embellish and finish what I started.
Who are your influences?
I have many! I don’t know if I would define them as influences as much people who have touched me spiritually on a musical level. When I hear the word influence I immediately think of someone who might have inspired me to write a song which they might have written. Many years ago I was so into Prince’s music that many of my pop/funk songs were directly inspired by songs of his that I loved and still love. When he passed away they all flashed before me reminding me of his importance in my evolution as a songwriter but strictly on a melodic and lyrical level.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
My inspiration mostly comes from my life experiences and I believe that I have a on off switch for my inspiration because years can go by without me focusing in or a melody or a lyric. Lyrics and melodies come to me together and when they appear I need to catch them immediately because if I let them leave then bye bye goes the song.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
Successfully enjoying a career driven by my music that I’ve always longed for.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
I am also an actor both screen and voice so when I’m not singing I’m auditioning or filming or doing a voiceover of some type.
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
It wasn’t a song or a movie for me it was a feeling that I got from my first public performance when I felt that I had a voice that could affect people in a positive way and it was a feeling of belonging.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
“You’re doing the right thing, stay in Europe man and do your thing”! Al Jarreau R.I.P.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Find out who you are, what you want to say and be truthful to yourself.
What quote or saying do you always stick by.
I don’t have one.
You get off a plane in your hometown,
1/ where is the first place you visit
2/ where is the first place you see
Starkville’s rural countryside.
3/ where is the fist food place you go and what do you get
A local rib shack in Colombus, Mississippi near a statue of local Howlin’ Wolf and I order some good old down home barbecue ribs.
You work with Lime Jam PR, how did that come about?
My manager and I were looking to find a PR company that seemed right for where we want to go. After communicating with several companies but not finding the right fit he my manager spoke of Lime Jam who he had contacted and I had a look and asked to speak with them which we did and it felt right.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
1. First off my personal Rode microphone.
2. My topaz ring
3. My hat (If I’m wearing one.)
4. My lyrics
5. My game on attitude.
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?
Twitter : https://twitter.com/bmissippij
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/bmissippij/
Facebook : http://bit.ly/2ikBPLi
Website : http://www.brucemississippijohnson.com