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All through his childhood, Timothy Neill Johnson, adored listening and singing the music of the Beatles. The wonderful melodies and harmonies coupled with flowing lyrics and simple rhythms gave him a natural launching off into a career of music. At 15 he began the study of voice and drums that would continue for years. Throughout high school and college he sang as a soloist and in ensembles, and played in several different bands. As he studied classical music by day, he played blues, rock, and country rock by night.
During his undergraduate studies in solo vocal performance at Glendale Community College and California State University of Los Angeles, he began free-lancing as a professional singer. During his twenties he sang with the Los Angeles Opera Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Philharmonic Chorus, the Roger Wagner Chorale, and as a soloist at All Saint’s Episcopal Church of Beverly Hills. In the same period, he began to develop skills in vocal improvisation, directly influence by his rhythmic studies and diverse exposure to melodies spanning from the Medieval period to 20th century music. It is rare for a classical singer to become an improviser, but his focus on Baroque style and improvisation was a perfect match to compliment his night time studies of alternative styles of music. Besides, what do you do when you drive around Los Angeles for many years without a radio in the car, but sing.
At 28 years old, he went to Belgium and proceeded to sing as a freelance singer for eight years specializing in early music. As well as singing as a soloist in Belgium, Holland and France, he sang and recorded with the premier early music ensembles of Northern Europe including Colligium Vocale, La Petite Bande, Il Fondimento and Le Concert Spirituel. He continued his studies both privately in voice and languages, as well as attending the Royal Flemish Conservatory in Antwerp Belgium, all the while playing hand percussion and improvising on his free time. Although he was a big fan of live Jazz, it was in this period he became influenced by the great song literature and recordings of Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday and many great Jazz singers.
In his return to the United States in 1995, it was the influence of Bobby McFerrin that stimulated his studies and improvisation. The combination of jazz, blues, world music and classical gave him a perspective on his own improvisation and singing. On his return he moved to Maine and has continued to freelance as a soloist singing with many groups including the Portland Symphony, Vermont Symphony, Apollo’s Fire, the Boston Cecilia and Maine Oratorio Chorale. In the year 2000, he met the lute player, Tim Burris, and has since sang in the duo, Music’s Quill, specializing in the music of the late Renaissance/early Baroque lute song repertoire. He has been teaching at both the University of Maine at Augusta and Bowdoin College since 1998.