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Johnson passed on The Voice spot

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRATGAZETTE

This article was published January 24, 2013 at 3:01 a.m.

Jillette Johnson

— Jillette Johnson and Kris Allen took different paths in their musical careers, but find themselves on the road together these days.

Allen is the Conway native famous for having won the American Idol competition four years ago, while Johnson is a newcomer who passed on a chance to go on a similar televised talent show, The Voice, preferring to pursue her dreams at her own chosen speed.

“I have a lot of respect for those shows,” Johnson says. “It’s really difficult these days to make a name for yourself, but I wanted to keep doing what I was doing and see if I can make it on my own terms.”

The 23-year-old, who was born in California but moved with her parents to New York when she was 9, has been singing since before she can remember talking. She began taking piano lessons when she was 6 and by 8 she was writing songs. She cites as her influences Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Randy Newman.

“I began performing when I was 12, and I’ve spent most of my career in New York City, playing in little clubs,” she says. “I’ve opened for Delta Rae, a band, and I consider myself very lucky to get to go out and see the country and open shows for Kris Allen. He’s such a great guy and it’s been a really great experience.”

Johnson has signed a recording contract with Wind-Up Records (which is also the recording home to former Little Rock band Evanescence and its founding singer/pianist, Amy Lee). Johnson has released a five-song EP, Whiskey & Frosting, and is at work on a full album, Water in a Whale, to be released in May.

On the road with Allen, Johnson is a solo act, playing piano, standing up and singing. All but one of the songs in her set are her own, with the sole exception, her version of Radiohead’s “Creep.”

“It’s a really fun addition,” Johnson says. “And I usually do a song with Kris during his set, his ‘Loves Me Not.’”

Weekend, Pages 36 on 01/24/2013

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