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Lorenzo Johnson

 

Lorenzo Johnson is the sort of creative wunderkind who converts everything he touches into gold. Like his professional peers, his success in the music biz has hinged upon his knack for being good at whatever he needs to be good at.

Brought up in a musically supportive household, Johnson had the opportunity to try out whatever instrument struck his fancy—and it turned out there were many. While keyboards are his first love and primary mode of musical expression, Johnson's also an adept bassist and percussionist. His certificate earned from the Omega School of Applied Arts and Sciences allowed Johnson to add producer, manager, and mix engineer to his resume's bullet points.

Combine a golden ear with an insatiable drive to learn, surround it by a supportive environment, and add a formal education and more than a dash of fashion sense, and it’s no surprise that the world has indeed taken notice of Lorenzo Johnson. The Alexandria, Virginia, native’s songwriting and production chops have contributed to chart-climbing albums, including Maysa Leak's Metamorphosis, which reached #1 on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz chart and received a Soul Train Award. Eric Darius' album Goin' All Out reached the #1 slot on the Billboard Smooth Jazz chart. Two of Johnson's album productions for Ledisi, Lost & Found and Turn Me Loose, charted at #10 and #1, respectively, on Billboard's U.S. R&B chart. Those last two Ledisi albums earned Grammy nominations, too.

Johnson has cultivated a client list that reads like a call sheet from the set of a documentary on contemporary urban talent. As a session keyboard player, Johnson has recorded with Ledisi, Maysa, Chuck Brown, Jazz of Dru Hill, Salt-n-Pepa, Eric Darius, Tony Terry, and The U.S. Naval Academy Gospel Choir, as well as much session work for Black Entertainment Television (BET).

As an authority on the ivories, Johnson has performed alongside world-renowned artists, including Ledisi, Regina Belle, Biz Markie, Chuck Brown, Beverly Crawford, Mr. Cheeks, CeCe Peniston, Glenn Jones, Twinkie Clark, and Norman Hutchins.

Of late, Johnson managed to squeeze production of a solo record into his obviously tight schedule. Things Are Looking Up (2011) is a diverse slab of mostly instrumental jazz/funk/rock fusion that gets its sonic hooks into your brain and hips and sets both into motion. For production of this effort, Johnson turned to PreSonus Studio One Professional.

“My first encounter with PreSonus products,” recalls Johnson, “was at a friend’s preproduction studio. I was called in to track vocals on a session, and the FireStudio Mobile was used as the audio interface. At first, I was a little concerned because I didn’t know what sort of quality to expect from such a compact device. Shortly after the session, I was amazed at the sound quality that came from such a small interface. From that point on, I was a believer in PreSonus.”

“Some years later,” Johnson continues, “my trusted sales associate of many years at my local music store recommended that I check out PreSonus Studio One. I was reluctant at first, because I did not want to have to learn a new DAW, but after his demonstration of Studio One showed me how easy it was, I installed it on my laptop and took it on the road with me straight away.”

The portable power suits Johnson well. “While touring, I compose on buses, in hotels and in airports,” he says, “but I'm also able to record. The FireStudio Mobile is great for tracking instrumentalists or vocalists while I’m on the road; I'm even able to present finished songs to an artist from the road! I couldn't do that without Studio One and the FireStudio Mobile.”

“When composing on the go,” continues Johnson, “I really don’t use many third party plug-ins. Studio One's Presence provides the sounds I need to complete my ideas. After tracking my virtual instruments, I incorporate more live elements—guitar, bass, horns, etc.—and it's enough to bring the simplest song to life. When I use external synths, I rarely use MIDI I/O; I just record them live, straight to audio tracks. I've even begun to incorporate the FireStudio Mobile for live use in songs that require extra vocal or music tracks.”

“I ended up getting on one of the biggest recordings of my career (Ledisi's This Christmas) by having my gear with me on the road. So with Studio One and the Fire Studio Mobile, touring has presented unexpected recording opportunities.”