Johnny Britt is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, producer, trumpeter, arranger and composer in the entertainment industry. Johnny has two #1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Singles and currently has a third that has been #1 on the same chart for eight straight weeks that he wrote. Johnny has worked behind the scenes in the recording studio or live on stage with some of the biggest artists and projects in the industry. They are Josh Groban, David Bowie, Jennifer Lopez, The Temptations, Maxwell, Peabo Bryson, Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Kashif, Norman Conners, The Winans, Aaron Neville, Zhang Liang Ying, Misia, Mark Isham, David Foster, Walter Afanasieff, Mike Elizondo, Harvey Mason Jr., Boney James, Marcus Miller, Take 6, Water For Elephants, Ides Of March, The Lion King, Forest Gump, Spiderman 3, American Idol, The Temptations Story, The Little Richard Story and currently the music producer for the hit TV Show America Sings. Johnny was the brainchild behind the group that he founded that fused jazz, hip hop, rap and soul. That critically acclaimed group was Impromp2 which reached #1 status in the UK Soul Charts and was signed to Motown/Mojazz Records … the group recorded four albums. The group performed at The White House for President Bill Clinton as well as the 1997 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
Johnny Britt was born in Louisville, Kentucky and left with his mother and sister that same year to Cleveland, Ohio where he was raised. Johnny, his sister Edna and mother Marie went from house to house living with relatives before settling in with his aunt and uncle.
Johnny’s roots started here in his new home where his aunt and uncle had started a church in the same house where they were living. The church finally moved to a building where the church was called The House Of God. At the tender age of four Johnny became the lead singer of the choir. Gospel music was everywhere in his early years. With guest choirs and gospel quartets Johnny absorbed it all. Johnny started playing the bongos at age 7 … this is where his professional career started with a group called The Courageous Young Men. The group played all over Cleveland and was popular. After a band teacher passed out photos of instruments for the students to review, Johnny saw the three valves on the trumpet and thought that it couldn’t be that hard to play, so at the age of 12, Johnny picked it up, thus beginning his trumpet career.
Playing in concert bands, stage bands, r&b bands, young Johnny started to make a name for himself in Cleveland. Upon graduating from Cathedral Latin High School Johnny attended Cleveland State University with music as a minor. During this time, Johnny wrote his first song “Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do” and recorded it before getting the chance of a life time to study music in Paris, France. During that year Johnny knew that his calling was music. Johnny was able to make such a broad move because his sister and brother in law lived in Paris … they invited him there to study trumpet. Johnny and his mother traveled to Paris 3 year’s prior while he was still in high school. Johnny got a chance to see, hear and feel the Paris music scene. During his first visit to France the biggest influence in Johnny’s life at this point is when he went to a concert to hear the worlds greatest classical trumpet player Maurice Andre … it was a life changing experience. Johnny knew he had to come back to France and study trumpet.
Upon his return to Paris Johnny was accepted into The Versailles Conservatory Of Music where he studied trumpet with the first trumpet player from the Paris Opera Roger Delmette … Johnny studied there for three years and is fluent in French. While in Paris Johnny started to learn more about jazz and began meeting some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world… Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Cat Anderson, Milt Jackson, Richard Williams, Woody Shaw, Benny Bailey, The Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Steve Lacy, Archie Shepp to name a few. Johnny worked hard as a jazz/ classical trumpet player. As the French music scene found out about Johnny’s singing voice he quickly became an in demand studio session singer. Johnny started a duo singing group with his sister they were called “ Funk International” featuring Johnny and Edna … the group played throughout Paris. Johnny signed his first ever artist recording contract while in Paris with an independent record label. Upon returning to the United States Johnny went to Los Angeles as part of a production deal. The project was produced by veteran producer Jerry Peters. After returning to Cleveland for a very short time Johnny went to Chicago upon the request of Kahil El Zabar and Edward Wilkerson members of the AACM he met while being on the jazz scene in Paris.
Chicago was new to Johnny and this was his new home. Full of a great jazz scene, cultural scene and studio scene Johnny quickly earned a full time music scholarship from Dr.Warrick Carter at Governors State University where Johnny obtained a BA in Music and won the Gerald Myrow Award for Outstanding Composer.
While at the University Johnny started doing commercial jingle work as a singer and studio recording sessions for records. Johnny formed a music group called CA VA with vocalist Kay Reed. The group signed a production deal and flew to Los Angeles to record with Benjamin Wright at Conway Studios. The group recorded four songs. After receiving his music degree Johnny was asked by Kool and The Gang to join them in the Bahamas for their recording sessions for their platinum album “ Emergency.”
After returning to Chicago Johnny met his future wife Arlene Flores in a club while he was performing in a local band in Indiana. The couple married the following year while Johnny was writing and doing sessions. One of the big breaks that came in Johnny’s career is when he met Otis Williams of The Temptations. The story goes: I was playing with a local band in Indiana when I saw on the marquee appearing “The Temptations” and this was at the same resort where the local band was playing. During one of our breaks I ran over to the back stage and knocked on the back stage door … the security guy opened the door and closed it on me. So I opened the theatre door where the concert had just ended … I jumped onto the stage and walked back to the green room. The first person that I ran into was Otis Williams. I said to him hi my name is Johnny Britt and I have some songs that I think you might be interested in … he looked at me like I was crazy.
He then said meet me in my hotel room the following day at 7pm. The next day I arrived with my songs and he loved them. Our relationship started and in a short while he asked me if I could be their music director … of course I said yes. He told me that if I could write them an overture and they liked it … it would be my job! I stopped everything that I was doing to work on that overture … by this time I had written 3 songs that they wanted to record so I was flying high. They flew me to Los Angeles, had a limo pick me up and put in up in a hotel … this was all a first for me. I went to Otis’s house and played him the overture that I had written. He called Melvin Franklin, who came over and listened to what I’d done. He started smiling and said It’s Yo Gig. It’s Yo Gig in his deep voice … then I asked Otis if I could call my wife in Chicago to tell her and we were off to live in Los Angeles. I traveled the world with The Temptations for 3 years, signed a production deal with The Temptations as a recording artist to Motown Records.
After that I broke into the session singing scene in Los Angeles much like I did in Paris and Chicago. I got a call to audition for Sade’s band … it came down to me and another trumpet player. He got the gig … the good news was that I decided to start my own group with a new concept. After checking out Miles Davis’s last CD “Doo Bop” with Eazy Mo Bee … I thought if I found a rapper to go along with my Marvin Gaye vocals and my Miles Davis trumpet I thought it would be a great concept. After auditioning 47 rappers I decided on the guy … we became Impromp2. We signed with Motown … I ran into Sade and she was so sweet telling me that the only reason they went with the other guy was because he was taller than me. I told her about my new group and that we got signed to Motown … if I had made the band, Impromp2 would have never happened!
Always looking forward and not content to rest on his previous achievements Johnny is broadening is artistry. Johnny’s first ever solo project 2010 was one of a kind … it was simply a grand piano, vocals. violin, cello and flugelhorn. A worship project called “There Is Nobody” which featured six vocal tracks and six instrumental tracks. After going back in the recording studio for six months Johnny’s new 2011 CD “Feels So Good” was birthed it offers a collection of 10 songs that were all written by Johnny and his song writing partner wife Arlene … with the exception of one songs. On this new CD Johnny sings lead and background vocals he also is the arranger, producer and mixer. Johnny played all of the instruments including live brass as well as programmed the beats on all of the songs except where indicated).
Just coming off a 20 city tour with Josh Groban, Johnny is setting his sights on a tour of his own. Johnny’s quest to expand musical boundaries has only just begun.