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Melvin Johnson

Houston-born keyboardist/composer Melvin Johnson is an artist as adept at creating his own dynamic expressions as he is a most valuable team player in realizing the visions of others. Church-grounded and college-educated, he has trained himself thoroughly to be an all-around musician who doesn’t just play his instrument but understands the fundamentals of all that he plays and composes, as well as his role as the leader of his band. At 36 years old, Melvin recently released his debut album, Little Red Wagon, a conceptual piece inspired by wisdoms passed down to him from his adopted father, Robert Lloyd Parker, as well as his own musings on life, family and spirituality. Musically, the project covers the full spectrum of African American musical styles, presented in configurations of solo, duo, trio, quartet and quintet. Melvin states, “These first fully arranged instrumental songs do not belong in any genre box, be it Jazz, Classical, Choral, Gospel, etc. All of that and more is in this! I love the space of creating at will.”

Starting out as an award-winning and scholarship-earning drummer, young Melvin shifted to keyboards and composition after transferring from Texas Southern University to San Jacinto College North (in East Houston) in 2006. There, Melvin studied under Julliard-trained Carol Morgan who profoundly shifted his approach to the art form, urging him to internalize the music then approach it from outside the box – to evolve.  Further development occurred when Johnson joined Greater Vision Church where he elevated from mere musician into Musical Ministry. It was here where Melvin was blessed to meet his wife, Tamara, as she and her mom sang in the choir. All of this elevated his internal purpose for music making.

Melvin Johnson has also been outstanding at playing with others. He is a 1st chair Jazz pianist All-State for the Texas Music Educators Association. In 2015-2016, he was Music Director for BelAmi, opening for Will Downing, Bilal and Vivian Green. He performed with Chanté Moore at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, CT in 2016. He was awarded “Best Rhythm Section Musician” and “Most Outstanding Musician of the Conference” at the Gulf Coast International Jazz Festival. And he has performed for organizations such as The American Red-Cross, Herman Memorial and University of Houston.

The future is glorious and bright for Melvin Johnson, destined to be a profound contributor to the culture, the community and the art form.


Take Five With...

Take Five with Melvin Johnson

Read "Take Five with Melvin Johnson" reviewed by AAJ Staff

Meet Melvin Johnson Houston, TX pianist/composer Melvin Johnson will offer a gift to the world with his debut album, Little Red Wagon (Sincerely Yours Music, 2023), overflowing with musical narratives on family love and the life lessons they provide. Johnson, who once thought of himself as only a live performer, found a unique hunger for recording and production during COVID lockdown. Mixed with exposure in multiple genres and styles, his education and training as a classical pianist forged a fluid ...

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