Global Songwriters Member Spotlight
Johnnie Mikel, Singer/Songwriter/Artist
Newcomer Johnnie Mikel may be only 18 years old, but already he’s attracting an enviable amount of attention in music circles. With his first EP Let Love Reign just released and an opening gig for the Charlie Daniels Band to his credit, you can’t blame the teenager for feeling like he’s on top of the world, if not yet the country charts.
Growing up in his hometown of Bowling Green, KY, Johnnie was a shy, creative kid who loved music, writing, and spending time on his family’s farm just outside town. When he was 11, his family relocated to New York City so Johnnie’s sister could pursue an acting career. While there, Johnnie often accompanied her to casting calls and was frequently asked to audition, but shied away from the spotlight, preferring instead to stay behind the scenes. He started writing a personal blog in which he talked about seeing the world through what he calls “a new set of eyes.” The site attracted thousands of viewers, convincing Johnnie that he had a talent for connecting with audiences. “My blog shared stories of hope and positivity,” he says now. “It really showed me how much I valued telling stories and capturing my everyday life in words. I feel like I was training myself to write songs long before I knew it.”
When Johnnie was 14, his family moved back to Kentucky and he began pursuing his dream of music in earnest He learned to play guitar (as well as piano, mandolin, dulcimer, banjo and ukulele) and started writing songs, exploring various musical genres and studying what he heard on the radio, searching for ways to bring his own words and music to life. Taylor Swift was an obvious influence, but so too were Johnny Cash (“His songs are so iconic”) and Tom T. Hall, whose skill with telling a story in song earned Johnnie the nickname “Tom T” from his family. Johnnie began making regular trips to Nashville, where he appeared on various songwriters’ showcases and doing in-the-round musical nights with more established tunesmiths. This brought him to the attention of notable musicians such as Jimmy Nichols (Faith Hill’s musical director), Carl Miner (lead guitarist with Mumford & Sons), and Damien Horne (solo artist, member of The Farm and the Muzikmafia, and collaborator with everyone from John Legend and Keith Urban to Bon Jovi and Jewel). Johnnie’s live performing and songwriting prowess also opened the door for his first recording project, Let Love Reign.
Going into the studio with some of Music City’s best-known studio players was a rush for the young artist, who ended up doing not only lead vocals but all of his backing and harmony tracks as well. The EP features seven of Johnnie’s expressive originals, including “Plan B,” “Kiss & Tell,” “Heartbreak Road” and his own personal favorite, “Smile,” stylistically arranged against today’s youthful contemporary country fabric. Getting to perform songs from the EP as Charlie Daniels’ opening act at Bowling Green’s prestigious SkyPAC was a dream come true for Johnnie, a dream that he hopes is just the first of many to follow.
“My mom has always told me to walk in like it’s your party, and before you leave, it will be,” he says with a smile. “These words mean a lot to me because they remind me that being myself is the best way to go in life. Even though I’m young, I want to inspire others with my music and use my gifts for good.” One listen to Johnnie Mikel and it’s hard to imagine his career being anything else!