Lara Johnston Has Shared the Stage with Willie Nelson, KISS, Cheap Trick and Heart. – Interview

For as young as vocal sensation Lara Johnston is, she has shared the stage with music’s biggest acts. Her upcoming tour is no different. Johnston will be opening for none other than the Doobie Bros. The singer/songwriter, whose influences include Rock, Pop, Jazz and Funk, recently chatted with me about her music, her new album and the big name stars she’s performed with.

Q – Thank you, Lara, for doing this.

A - You're very welcome! Thanks for having me.

Q – Congrats on the tour with the Doobie Bros. How did this come about?

A - Thank you! This tour came about because I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to share my original songs with new people in new places. So I emailed the Doobie Brothers' manager and booking agent, somewhat relentlessly :). The booking agent asked me to send my new songs, so I sent him a few. He responded with enthusiasm and put me on the bill.

Q – You’ve opened up for big names like Willie Nelson, KISS and Heart. Of all the great names you’ve had the chance to work with, who was your most memorable?

A - Each one of them has their own huge, unique artistic presence that's on full display as soon as they step on stage, and that's been really thrilling to observe. Watching Nancy and Ann Wilson, of Heart, was super inspiring. They're these rock n' roll divas with so much talent and spunk, not to mention killer songs. I was definitely taking notes.

Q – One of the things I find amazing is your voice. What musical background do you bring with you?

A - Thank you so much! Growing up, there was always music playing in the house, or in the car on the way to school- soul, blues, funk, gospel, rock, jazz. I started studying my favorite singers at a young age. I also participated in school choirs, gospel choir, and soul band. I began gigging as a solo artist when I was 16.

Q – I got the chance to listen to some of your songs. There’s definitely some pop, gospel and jazz influences. How would you describe your sound?

A - With my music, I aim to bring the emotion and honesty of soul music to catchy, well-crafted pop songs with a dash of rock.

Q – Your debut album will be released later this year. What can fans expect from this album?

A - They can expect songs that will be stuck in their heads for days :-). It's a strong pop record with anthemic choruses, lots of guitar, some rootsy moments, and a lot of emotion. There are powerful uptempo tracks and stripped-down ballads. There's a song I wrote called, "Keep You In My Pocket," which is probably my most personal song. And there's lots of sass and fun on there too.

Q - Which singers/musicians inspired you growing up?

A - I was drawn to those raw, honest, warm soul voices. Listening to Aretha Franklin made me want to be a singer. You can feel every word she sings, and she reaches incredible heights with such effortless grace. I would sing along with her for hours. I love Aretha, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Al Green, and so many others. And I've always been inspired by my dad, because he has one of those strong, soulful voices too, and he's an incredible guitar player , songwriter, and performer. He's the hardest working gentleman I know! And he introduced me to the music that soundtracked my childhood- all those soul singers I mentioned, and everything from The Temptations to Cream, and The Beatles…all groups who have influenced my songwriting. I also looked up to Beyonce and Christina Aguilera.

Q – Thanks again for taking the time to talk to me. Is there anything you want to add?

A - Thank you very much for listening, and for asking good questions. And thanks to anyone who supports my music! My album will be released very soon, so stay tuned :)

Check out Lara Johnston on the web at:, and


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at
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