Carolyn Dawn Johnson is a whole lot o’ country—she writes it, sings it and it’s bred in her bones. The 30-year-old from a tiny Alberta hamlet has just broken a Canadian Country Music Award record with 10 nominations for her first album, Room with a View. “This is a really huge deal,” she sings over the phone. “It is unbelievable.” Even more so given that she describes her life as very happy and her childhood in the farming community of Deadwood (population 150), six hours north of Edmonton, as one of stability, laughter and song—not exactly the standard stuff of country music. But there were bears—one once lumbered after her through the horse pasture. “I still hate them,” she says vehemently. “And I still have nightmares once or twice a year.”
Johnson acknowledges that there is a lot of pain in country music. But, she adds, “it is a very hopeful, positive genre—there is always something around the corner that is going to be better.” She may well be the embodiment of that: after studying recording engineering in Vancouver, Johnson moved to Nashville six years ago and has quickly become one of country’s hottest songwriters. Her record, just released in the United States, made its debut on the Billboard album charts at No. 8 and sold 17,760 copies in a week. With the CCMAs looming on Sept. 10 in Calgary, the future is looking pretty bright for Deadwood’s star. Laughs Johnson: “I’m not on top, but I am doing pretty good.” Read the interview with Carolyn Dawn Johnson online www.macleans.ca
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.