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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

The Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience Release New Evolution Of Big Band Music On 'Made For Her'

The Shaun Johnson Big Band Experience is a rare, newcomer to traditional pop - fusing a big band spirit with an inventive edge – and garnering a top 5 Billboard spot with the release of their first album. Shaun, an Emmy award-winning crooner (and lead singer of the internationally known vocal group, Tonic Sol-fa) indelibly stamps vocal jazz and swing with a contemporary punch - to the delight of both traditionalists and newcomers - emerging as an original voice in the continuing tradition of the American vocalist.

The band performs what they call the new evolution of big band music – born of rebellion – and they owe it to Sinatra to keep that evolution alive and kicking. They have musicians who have toured with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Robert Randolph and the Family Band and New Kids on the Block as well as Music Hall of Fame inductees.

Then there’s the big band sound. Few acts can channel Sinatra as Shaun softly croons about lost love, inhabit Citizen Cope as he belts one out, and then segue into original songwriting without any indication that these musicians, these eras, and these styles were ever anything but destined to go together.

Finally there’s the experience. The ensemble's sound is centred on innovation to ensure that while each performance is an experience, no two experiences are exactly the same. And let’s face it: being relatively new to the game not only means BBE has a fresh sound, but audiences can hear that sound as it develops.

Shaun Johnson, an Emmy-winning singer-songwriter, seemed destined for a life of music from the very beginning. "One of my earliest memories," he says, "is of performing at state fair talent shows with my little sister. We'd sing Sonny and Cher songs, a cappella, when neither of us was quite tall enough to reach the microphone."

Originally from the small town of Saint Joseph, Iowa, Shaun attended Saint John's University before settling in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he began his career with the nationally known vocal group, Tonic Sol-fa. This quartet has sold nearly two million albums independently and has been featured in Newsweek and on the Today Show. Shaun is still an active member.

In 2016, Shaun put together a group featuring some of the best instrumentalists and arrangers in the Midwest-- guys who've toured with numerous luminaries, who are Music Educators of the Year and who are integral members of collegiate jazz faculties. His vision was to create a contemporary big band sound with a pop flair, honouring legends like Frank Sinatra, with a nod to Michael Bublé, while giving the music his own twist - performing songs ranging from the “Spiderman Theme” to increasingly popular original work.

The initial holiday tour received such overwhelming feedback that another, expanded holiday tour was undertaken the following year. The proceeds from those first, small tours were subsequently donated to local charities. In 2018, with increased presenter and fan demand, the BBE added even more cities to the holiday tour and for the first time, began accepting regular season shows which expanded rapidly across the U.S.

Shaun Johnson & The Big Band Experience are:

Shaun Johnson - Lead Vocals (Saint John’s University)

Aaron Moe – Alto Saxophone (Chair of the Music Department, Normandale Community College)

Jeff Carver – Trumpet (Buena Vista University)

David Stamps – Trombone (Assistant Professor of Jazz/Composition, Gustavus Adolphus College)

Ronny Loew – Tenor Saxophone (Berklee College of Music)

David Stanoch – Percussion (Percussion Faculty, McNally Smith College of Music)

Theodore Brown – Piano (Music Education/Opera, Xavier University)

Jim Bierma – Bass (Professor, University of Minnesota)

The Big Band Experience can be seen on their very own, nationally televised PBS television special, “The Spirit of the Season.” The band’s debut album, “Capitol,” debuted at #5 on the Billboard Jazz Chart. Shaun won his first Emmy in the "Musical Composition / Arrangement" category. Shaun recently won two Independent Grammys for “Best Original Holiday Song” and “Best Pop Song” out of 650,000 entries worldwide. Philanthropic efforts include: collaborations with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Susan G. Komen, Lunch is Served, and Wishes&More, as well as appearances for 360 Communities, Music in the Schools, the Make A Wish Foundation and numerous other charities.

Shaun has shared the stage with Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy and Garrison Keillor, among others. Shaun’s original songs, arrangements and albums have won numerous awards for best pop album, gospel song and Christmas original and have been featured on television and in movies. Shaun’s original holiday song, “Sno,” is featured on the “12 Dogs of Christmas” (the most popular Christmas video sold at Walmart).

Significant performances in the last 3 years include: the Ames Centre, Burnsville, MN; Levitt Shell, Memphis, TN, Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis, MN, with the SD Symphony at the Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, SD; the Hoyt Sherman Theatre, Des Moines, IA; the State Theatre, Eau Claire, WI; the Orpheum Theatre, Sioux City, IA; the Freeman Stage at Bayside, Selbyville, DE; with the Rochester Symphony at the Mayo Civic Centre, Rochester, MN, etc.

Shaun has entertained at numerous national corporate events including: Jostens, Tastefully Simple, Thrivent Financial, Winnebago, and General Mills. He has performed the Star Spangled Banner for national Republican and Democratic events, former presidents, the Minnesota Twins and Vikings, the Chicago Bears, the NY Mets, the National 4th of July Celebration at Mount Rushmore, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx and the Saint Paul Saints to name a few. National media appearances include: Newsweek, Country Weekly and MediaStyle magazines, NBC's Today Show, A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, Steve & DC (nationally syndicated radio show) and others.


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