Monday, 13 August 2012

Artist profile - Jill Johnson (Sweden)

Jill Johnson is a country music singer from Sweden, who represented her homeland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 in Birmingham with the song 'Kärleken är', placing a respectable 10th. Her career since then has gone from strength to strength, culminating in the release of a second greatest hits package in 2010 and a #1 album at the end of last year. Throughout this entry you can click the links to listen to songs on YouTube or Spotify.

In contrast to her Eurovision entry, much of Johnson's music slots neatly into the genre of contemporary country.

Her first release, in 1995, was a cover of 'Shake the Sugartree', a hit for American singer Pam Tillis three years previously. Somewhat bizarrely, the accompanying album included a cover of 'As Dreams Go By', which placed second in the 1992 UK Song for Europe. It was her win in Melodifestivalen 1998 however which moved her into the mainstream, along with the album 'När hela världen ser på', Johnson's only collection in Swedish.

After two more moderately successful albums, but no hits on the Swedish singles charts, it took a second participation in Melodifestivalen to lift Johnson to the next level. By 2003, as we all know, Melodifestivalen had become one of Sweden's most-watched TV shows, and although 'Crazy In Love' only placed 4th in the final, the song was a hit and was accompanied by the platinum-selling compilation 'Discography, 1996-2003'.

Johnson's subsequent albums have been generally well-received, both by critics and the Swedish public. Much of her work has been recorded in Nashville, where she worked with well-known country songwriters like Lori McKenna and Liz Rose, and wouldn't sound out of place on today's US country radio. No attempt has been made to launch Johnson in the US though - probably a wise move when you consider that America certainly has enough country singers of its own without looking beyond its borders. And it certainly didn't work out for fellow Swedish country act Calaisa. As well as original material, Johnson has also paid homage to her own favourite classic country artists with two 'Music Row' collections.

As well as her successful recording career, Johnson tours frequently around Sweden, presenting both her regular material and 'Jill Johnsons jul', a celebration of Christmas music that has become a fixture of Swedish TV during the festive period. After a stint supporting Toby Keith on his European tour, Johnson's most recently been spotted on Swedish TV helping Lionel Richie promote his country album 'Tuskegee', with features a duet between Richie and Johnson on a re-interpretation of the Commodores hit 'Sail On'.

Her most recent album, 'Flirting with Disaster', was released in October 2011, and immediately topped the Swedish album charts. In One Piece is taken from that album.

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