Mr. Johnson – Gospel Choir Praises His Name Through Music


By Marcus Bobbitt, Spartan Staff

What would you say your first week at Marian has been like?

“It’s been fun. I’ve gotten a chance to see some students that knew me outside the school and knew me from the Gospel Choir.”


How has your role at Marian changed after taking up this new position?

“I can’t figure out how it’s really changed. It’s kind of like I’ve always been here, so now it’s like I’m more official.”


What do you think our students would be surprised to learn about you?

“That I do all styles of music. That I do have some type of athletic ability. I used to run track back in the day, I played baseball, and I’m a bowler.”


Any short-term and long-term goals for the choir?

“Long term goal: to get the students to be the best they can be and realize something that they didn’t know before, find out that they like a style of music that they didn’t think they would like. Just broaden their horizons musically.”


Any overall messages you have for the students?

“Don’t be scared of Mr. Johnson. You know, speak, ‘cause I’m going to speak. So don’t be scared of me, because I’m not here to harm you, I’m here to help you. Anytime you have any questions, ask me. I’m here in the counseling area if anybody wants to just chat. Come talk to me, I’m here.”


Any big plans for the choir this year?

“Yes, I plan on traveling. I would like to do some things outside the four walls. We won’t be like Mr. Bimm…yet. Give me a couple years. I’m hoping to build something great over there so we can have several choirs doing several different things, and have them all come together and be able to do something big and great. That’s the vision.”


Can you go more in depth on what you do in Campus Ministry?

“I facilitate things for the Mass. I am working with Ms. Hansen, formulating how we’re doing the Mass, how we can do it differently, and putting more music into it, different types of music. Also we deal with the overall Christian and spiritual side. Being more in touch with God, how you identify with God. Everybody identifies with God differently, so I’m trying to help them to formulate and get an idea of who they think God is to them. We get a chance to explore that space.”


How is the Gospel Choir going to interact with the Varsity Choir since you are now heading both?

“Oh, they’re going to be together. I want them to do things together where the Gospel Choir will be doing songs that the Varsity Choir is doing and vice versa. So it’s going to be songs just for the combined choir. It won’t be exclusively a song for Gospel Choir or exclusively a song for Varsity Choir. It’ll be a combined effort. Then they’ll go to their separate corners and do their separate music after the Masses.”


Do you seek to incorporate more Gospel into our Varsity Choir?

“It’ll be Gospel style, but it’ll be more so Worship because Gospel is kind of leaning towards Worship, and the Christian music is also leaning towards Worship, so it’s going to be a happy medium.”


How do you seek to utilize Community Periods with both Gospel and Varsity Choir?

“For those who don’t have time to be in Varsity Choir or to go to Gospel Choir, we’ll have that period for people to come in. And if they want to sing I’ll probably have a different style of music. I might not even do any music that either one of those choirs is doing; I might do some other things. Maybe somebody wants to sing some opera, we’ll touch on a little bit of R&B, in preparation for maybe doing a Variety Show or talent show, which would be fun.”


Any big ideas for that potential Variety Show?

“Yes, I would like to do one sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I have to get some acts together, get a sign-up sheet. Then I would have to get the musicians together: myself and Mr. Steve (pianist), a whole other band with bass players, lead guitar—but I would love to get students to play. Because I know there are some walking that can play. Some of these kids walking around play for their parents’ church or something and they’re hiding out, but there’s opportunities out there. I have people asking me, ‘Do you have anybody that can sing or anybody who can play’ we’re talking paying gigs, scholarships. So I have the avenues and the connects for that. So yeah, hopefully I can flush them out, it’d be great.”


Are you seeking to market choir in a different way than it might’ve been marketed in the past?

“Yes, if I could I’m going to start some flyers in-house. I’ve been in some of the students’ faces saying ‘You look like a singer,’ so I might get some more in the Gospel Choir and kind of build because I lost a lot of seniors last year and the previous year. I have a strong freshman group, so if I keep building like that, in a couple years, I’ll be good. Hopefully if they hear how good the choir is this semester, they may want to try to join next semester or next year, or join me during Community Periods. Then I could maybe actually put them in with the choir. The difference is that the choir that meets at 6th period will be getting a grade for it and those who join in Community Period won’t, but they’ll still be part of the group.”


Last Question: Favorite song you’ve ever had a choir perform?

“Psalm 96. It was an acapella number that they loved. Wait let me backtrack, it was a medley that I directed in 2007. It was a medley of maybe 7 different song in it. I directed a 4th-8th choir that won a competition. We did Glory Glory, Hallelujah, but we did it two different ways: we did it the old Baptist way, then we did it a more structured way. We went into another song called Praise the Name of Jesus, where we sang in three different languages, including sign language. Then we went into Psalm 96, and we caught everybody off guard because it was acapella, and it was all 4th-8th graders.”