Though Jeff Johnson grew up going to church, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, it didn't quite take hold. "My parents took us to church every Sunday to 'do our duty,'" he relates. "That's what religion was to me then. Show up and smile. It wasn't real."
But then ten years ago, as a junior at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Jeff took a trip to Austin to attend the Passion Conference, a Christian music festival. "It was kind of a random thing for me. I had nothing to do so I just went with a friend of mine. I was just sitting, watching [the band] Watermark. Suddenly I had the answer of what to do with my life."
"I only had a year left in school. I debated going to seminary," Jeff says, adding with a slight self-deprecating laugh, "I didn't think seminary was for me. I started playing keyboard in the band at Indiana Baptist Church."
With a degree in finance and computers, Jeff moved to Dallas and "by chance" had an interview with a banker named Michael Moss, who also happened to be a leader of 121 Community Church in Dallas. The conversation quickly turned from money to religion and led to Jeff's leading the musical part of worship services on the piano at 121. Three years later, he decided to quit his computer job to devote himself full-time to the ministry of his music.
Jeff Johnson got a band together to lead the music for a new contemporary service at Fellowship Bible Church in downtown Dallas. He and his band still play there whenever they aren't on the road.
The chance to bring his ministry to a considerably larger audience came in 2005 when Jeff auditioned for "American Idol." He made it to Hollywood and was seen on national television leading others in prayer.
"I'm glad I did it. I learned a lot," he says of the experience. "When they cut me, that was not the easiest thing." Still, though, the national recognition didn't hurt. "It's crazy. After the show, especially. Not so much now, though people will ask about the show. It definitely helped the band."
Armed with their second album, "Glorious Day," the Jeff Johnson Band has just started on its Glorious Tour '08, which will take them throughout the South East to Georgia and Florida, back to Oklahoma and Texas, with every state in between.
Then, in the summer, the band continues to reach out to youth at a series of Christian camps and conferences in Tennessee, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma.
Besides his compelling voice and musical gifts, Jeff is blessed with a youthful appeal and "Idol" level charisma. No doubt the kids (and adults) his songs and his ministry reach will not just be "showing up and smiling."
By Nate Lee
Jeff Johnson's "Glory To Your Name" Song Video & "Ruin Me" Song Video