Enjoy Paige King Johnson’s Cooking Video.
About Paige King Johnson:
Talent is the obviously the most crucial tool in the arsenal of a successful entertainer, but the ones that go the distance and enjoy careers that thrive for decades like Dolly, Willie or Reba also possess a dedicated work ethic and a bold entrepreneurial spirit that continually carries them to loftier heights. Paige King Johnson has all those qualities in spades.
Her engaging voice is quickly drawing attention to “Just Like You,” the second single from her debut EP Big Girl World, but Johnson is more than another fresh-faced newcomer with a great voice. The 23-year-old launched a dinner theater in her North Carolina hometown while still in high school, providing the local community some well-deserved entertainment while simultaneously sharpening her business and performing skills.
“I started that actually when I was a sophomore in high school,” Johnson says of Country on the Outskirts of Town in Angier, NC. “We have a five-piece house band that we put together and we’ll do two-hour shows. It’s mostly classic country covers mixed with some newer stuff mainly by myself and two other singers. We are the main people who play every single show and we may have a guest artist or musician come in. We serve a catered meal beforehand and then we do a live show.”
Of course the pandemic has silenced most forums for live music in 2020, yet the enterprising young artist recently held her own festival, the Country Yard Party. “We knew that we couldn’t really do it like we normally would so we had to postpone it a little bit,” she admits, “but we were able to work with our town, our county’s health dept and our county’s Sheriff’s department to figure out how we could do it safely. We finally got everything put together and we were able to do it. It went really well. We were just happy to have some kind of live show.”
Johnson’s drive to entertain started at a very young age after she received a special gift from her grandfather. “My grandpa bought me my first guitar for Christmas when I was 10-years-old,” recalls Johnson, whose middle name King is her grandmother’s maiden name. “I’d been taking piano lessons along with my sister and singing in church. I enjoyed music, but I had never really taken it to the next level. My grandpa really encouraged me. I started to get a feel for guitar and was getting more into music and then the following Easter my grandpa passed away. I took that as my sign that I really need to put my head down and put some effort into the whole music thing because he had so much belief in me. He really was excited to see me learn guitar and see where it took me. So that was really when I started to get serious about music.”
Johnson began performing around her hometown and building a reputation as a gifted young entertainer. “I fell in love with singing and I started playing out. From then on out, I knew music was going to be a part of my life in some sort of capacity,” says Johnson, a three-time Carolina Music Awards nominee. “As things started to progress and I started playing more shows, people were saying, ‘Okay, you are actually good! You’re not just a little kid playing around,’ and I was like, ‘Okay well maybe this is something that I’m supposed to be doing.’”
In addition to headlining her own gigs, Johnson began opening for James Otto, Neal McCoy, Scotty McCreery and other performers, amassing as much experience as she could. Following high school graduation, she attended Nashville’s famed Belmont University where she graduated in three and a half years. “I wanted to get out of school as soon as I could so I could really get into music full-time. I started making connections in Nashville as much as I could. I was writing and recording and doing the typical Nashville route around and trying to find my way throughout all that,” she says of performing at the Bluebird Café and other noted Music City venues.
“This is my time,” she says confidently. “I’m going to do everything that I can to prove to everybody else and prove to myself that I’m supposed to be here. This is what I was made to do. For the past two years, I’ve been doing music full time. Some days it’s a struggle. It is a challenge and it will beat you down to the ground, but I keep coming back for more. I know that there is nothing else that I want to do.”
Signed to PCG Artists Development Records, headed by accomplished industry vet Bernard Porter, Johnson released her debut single/video, “Water Down the Whiskey,” in 2019. The song immediately drew attention thanks to her personality-packed vocal performance and the way she enthusiastically embraced promoting the project. “Last year, being able to be out on the road and doing a radio tour with my first single and everything that came with that with releasing the music video, it really solidified my thoughts that this was what I was made to do,” she smiles. “I had the time of my life being able to travel around and visit radio stations and play different shows all over everywhere. It was a good first taste. I was super excited for this next year and had a lot of cool shows planned and then it all got ripped out from underneath me, but it makes me so excited for what’s to come once things get back to normal.”
Johnson’s latest single, “Just Like You,” is a potent ballad with an unexpected lyric that celebrates the joys of a loving relationship. The release is buoyed by a video co-directed by veteran country hitmaker Pam Tillis, who was so impressed with Johnson that she offered her help. “Pam is such a creative genius,” Johnson enthuses. “She just blows my mind. After getting to work with one of my heroes and somebody who is so great and such a staple in the music industry, it just fueled my fire to keep going and do all this. She was so great in the whole dreaming up process of this video. She really created a beautiful story in a different way that was what I, as a songwriter, had in mind.”
Johnson penned the song with a friend from her college days. “I co-wrote this song with a friend of mine from Belmont that I’ve known since my freshman year. Her name is Regan Rousseau. We connected on the classics of country music,” says Johnson, who grew up listening to Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson as well as such 90s icons as Reba, George Strait and Shania Twain. “I had this idea for a while, but as a songwriter a lot of people will tell you it’s very easy to write breakup songs or ‘I hate you’ songs or ‘I want to burn your car’ songs, but for me to sit down and write a love song was something that was very daunting.”
Johnson rose to the occasion. “You realize that the beauty in a relationship is both people are showing up every single day and giving a little bit more into it,” she says displaying wisdom beyond her years. “They are taking the time every day to make sure the other person is taken care of or if they need a little extra encouragement that they are getting it. A lot of bad things can happen in a relationship and we can be quick to be down on somebody, but I feel like we don’t really take the time to acknowledge when they are doing everything right. So that’s what this song is. It’s an acknowledgement that we both fall short of what we should be doing, how we should be loving each other every single day, but the fact that we get back up every single day and try again, and we try harder, that at the end of the day you still love me and you are still here for me, I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about relationships. I was trying to paint that picture in this song.”
As a songwriter, Johnson has a gifted for portraying life’s most precious moments in her music, and then bringing those moments to vivid life with her warm, evocative voice. “I’ve been writing a whole bunch,” she says of the burst of creativity she’s experienced during the pandemic. “I have enough material right now, I feel like I could put out like three different concept albums, so I’m very eager to get back in the studio once we get this next release out and look towards the future.”
Johnson knows music is her future. “There’s no plan B. There’s only plan A and that’s music,” she says. “No matter what capacity it is, I’m going to be doing it because it’s in my blood. I love playing music. I love writing music and I love getting to play shows and all of that, but I know that growing up in a household where my parents started a small business and kept that business running, I know the sheer realities of economics. At the end of the day, the music industry is still a business and it’s my career. I know if I want to be able to do this as a career that I’m going to have to work my tail off and do things like Dolly and Reba and create avenues anywhere and everywhere I can.
“I love all that business stuff as well as the creative free flowing music side of things,” she says. “So it just makes me excited knowing I have a lot of different options to be able to create different spaces and different avenues for myself as an artist and other artists as well. I’m eight years into doing the dinner theater thing and now I’m starting outdoor festivals and I love it! I absolutely love it and I keep coming back for more.”