Johnson’s Rules

If her fans haven’t forgotten her, by the time she gets to Brantford, Carolyn Dawn Johnson will have some songs to play for them.

Johnson, who released her fourth album Love Rules in August, will close her fall tour at the Sanderson Centre on October 25. Tickets for the 8PM show are $38.

The album comes four years after 2006’s Love and Negotiation. But the hiatus wasn’t necessarily a rest. Johnson delivered two children in that time while continuing to write songs, and then, recording the latest album.

“I was still incredibly busy, just not in the public eye,” the Alberta-born artist explained from Nashville, a few days before heading off on the road.

Johnson released her first album, Room With a View in 2001. It spawned hits in both Canada and the United States, and was named Album of the Year at the 2001 Canadian Country Music Awards. Her second album, Dress Rehearsal, earned the same designation in 2004. And while Johnson realizes the music industry has changed, her enthusiasm for music remains. She describes rehearsing her older songs “like putting on an old sweater. I was like, ‘Ahhh, I still love these songs. I’m still proud of them.’”

But she’s equally, if not more excited to play the new music. And she’s not alone. Her current single, “The Whole Thing” was the third most downloaded country song in Canada during the last week of September, and the eighth most played country song on radio. The first single, ”Let Me Introduce Myself” was released to radio in June and was the most added track for two weeks.

The song, originally intended for Johnson’s co-writer, was the “perfect pivotal song to come back to the marketplace, because I was like, ‘Hey everybody, I know I’ve been gone for a long time, but let me introduce myself to you again. My name is Carolyn, these are some of the things I’ve done, [and] this is what you know about me. I’m still the same girl. I’ve just gone through some major life changes, but I’m ready to come out and sing for you again.’”

No doubt, the largest change has been motherhood. Johnson admits she has always been deeply affected by things around her; that’s why she makes her living writing songs. The single “Taking Back My Brave,” off Love and Negotiation, included the line, “Newborn babies always make me cry.” But having her own has done even more.

“It’s kind of crazy. I knew my life would change, and that it would become my first priority, that’s just the way it’s going to be. … You can’t know until you actually have them. I had no idea how overwhelming it would actually be, and how the love just… It does change you.”

Or maybe it’s just enhanced the emotion she’s always tried to convey in her songs. She believes that as long as songs are relatable, a career can always be possible, despite the changes of age and motherhood. As a life-long music fan, the stories from fans continually renew her faith in the humanity.

“For me to be such a huge fan, and then get to have fans of my own…it’s come full circle, it’s amazing,” she says. “Sometimes I still pinch myself and think ‘How did these dreams actually happen?’ And I think it’s just because you follow your heart and you work really hard at it.”

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