Singer Carrie Johnson returns for church’s annual benefit

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Singer Carrie Johnson has become sort of the de facto artistic advocate for the Philippines Mission Fund at the First Congregational Church in Bristol.

For the past few years, the Connecticut singer songwriter has returned again and again to offer her musical talents to benefit the fund.

She returns April 9.

Kim Villanti, who organizes the concert each year for the fund, explained the Philippines Mission Fund was set up in 2008 by the First Congregational Church

“Since then,” said Villanti. “The fund has responded to natural disasters, the needs of the poor, supported an orphanage and made possible the educational aspirations of over 20 students uplifting their lives out of poverty. To date, 15 students have graduated from college with degrees in hospitality, education, IT, accounting, nursing, and theology.”

Villanti said: “This yearly fund raising concert contributes 50 percent of the tuitions for the students that are currently supported.”

“Supporting children in this country and world wide is an integral health and well being issue for all of us,” said Carrie in an email interview. “If we can help a child go to school, go to college, then we are all better off for it, knowledge is empowering and important.  That is why this fund raiser is so meaningful to me.”

When Carrie returns to Bristol on Saturday for the concert, she will be accompanied by several other performers, including her sister, Libby.

“My sister is one of my favorite songwriters,” said Carrie. “Her lyrics and melodies are always fresh and deep.”

Although they share the same genes, Carrie said the siblings’ musical approach differs in some ways.

“She tends to be a more quiet singer than I am,” said Carrie. “I lean more towards power pop and belt singing.”

However, said Carrie, “We grew up with so many inspiring artists it’s hard to pin down what our roots are, but singer/songwriters for sure, and we both love roots and bluegrass music.”

Although siblings have a reputation in music of being at loggerheads with each other, this is not the case for the Johnsons.

“My sister is my best friend,” said Carrie. “One of the most comfortable and natural places for me to be is on stage with my sister Libby.”

“We never had disputes regarding publishing or money because we split everything 50/50, avoiding that conflict entirely,” said Carrie. “When we were on the road together we had so much fun. Really, the only thing we ever disagreed on was that I sang too loud and she sang too soft.”

“We love performing together and have been doing that since we were children,” said Johnson.

“I cannot wait to perform with her because these days we don’t get to do it that often.”

Also on the bill with Carrie is Paul Sachs. “Paul is an amazing singer/songwriter from New York City who has this incredible voice and his songs are killer. I Just love his music and am so excited to have him on the line up this year.”

Since Carrie last performed for the Philippines Mission Fund at the First Congregational Church, she has been involved in some other musical projects.

On her webpage, Carrie touted her collaborations with Julia Russo, Allie Martocci, Riley Lynch, and Emily Perine.

“All of these artists came to me for vocal or guitar lessons,” said Carrie. “When it was mutually discovered that they were also interested in songwriting, and possessed the talent, we took it to the next level.”

“Julia Russo and Emily Perine are more in the singer/songwriter indie rock genre, while Riley Lynch and Allie Martocci are more in the pop/rock genre,” said Carrie.

“Generally,” said Carrie, “I write the music and they provide the lyrics… It’s not difficult to create the melody when I am working in different genres – and with different musicians. I am always conscious, however, of making sure I’m not repeating myself when I provide the music – thus each artist has their own sound.”

As for her collaborators upcoming projects, Carrie said, “Julia Russo is about to release her first CD ‘Hearts In The Water.’ I’m going into the studio with Riley to start production on his second CD, and hopefully this summer or fall will begin production on Allie and Emily’s music,”

Those collaborations, said Carrie, have kept her own efforts on the backburners.

“I am also working with my daughter, Julia Davis, performing at fundraisers for The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition,” said Carrie.

As for what fans can expect on April 9, said Carrie, “At a songwriter in the round, the audience experiences a more intimate delivery of our music. I enjoy telling a little story of why I wrote the song – I think people coming to this event will experience more the inner soul of creating music, then having it performed live. We are all looking forward to The Philippines Mission Fund Concert this year. We’re hoping to entertain, make some new friends, raise some money and share a wonderful night of fellowship and music together.”

An Acoustic After Dark Concert—”The Songwriter: Words, Music & Inspirations” will be held Saturday, April 9 from 7 to 9 p.m at The First Congregational Church, 31 Maple St., Bristol in the auditorium level. The evening features Libby Johnson, Carrie Johnson, and Paul Sachs. Suggest donation is $20 per person and benefits the Philippines Mission Fund.  Light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served.

Singer Carrie Johnson performs in Bristol on Saturday.

Singer Carrie Johnson performs in Bristol on Saturday.