Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Shaun Johnson
We’re happy to introduce you to what we call the new evolution of big band music – born of rebellion – and we owe it to Sinatra to keep that evolution alive and kicking.
How good are we? Glad you asked.
We 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. This group is nothing if not upfront: it’s one of those rare cases where everything you need to know is right in the name:
You’ve got Shaun Johnson, an Emmy-winning singer/songwriter who’s sold nearly two million albums as part of the nationally known vocal group, Tonic Sol-fa.
Then there’s the big band sound. Few acts can channel Sinatra as he 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. Our sound is centered 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 that your audiences can hear that sound as it develops.
Looking for a group heavily influenced by the big band era, but which never – not for one moment – feels as if it lives anywhere but the present? Live with us.
More on the Story of the Big Band Experience:
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, honoring 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.
Look for the BBE’s very first PBS special, “Spirit of the Season,” to air across North America as well as the Big Band Experience’s very first studio recording, “Capitol,” which garnered a top 5 debut on the Billboard Jazz Chart.