Worship music is not a career choice, it’s a calling, and it’s one that Worship Artist Shelly E. Johnson has embraced with joyful surrender. She has a gift for writing songs that can lift a congregation closer to the Throne and a heart for serving God that makes her one of the most anointed young worship leaders of her generation.
Raised in a strong Christian home, it wasn’t until the age of fourteen when Shelly’s father tragically died from cancer that Shelly met God for the first time in a real and personal way. It was during that experience that Shelly began writing songs and felt God’s calling on her life to ministry.
“When I was 14, my daddy died a week after Christmas. Because of that, our family endured many sad Christmases in the years that followed. It’s been an amazing journey watching God restore joy to our family over the years and once again making Christmas beautiful. I know Christmas can be a hard, sad time for so many people, so my hope and prayer for my new album “Christmas Is Beautiful” is that it will be a fresh reminder of the faithfulness of God,” explained Shelly.
Most well-known for writing the powerful worship anthem “Power of the Cross”, which has been recorded by Natalie Grant, Steve Green and is being used in churches worldwide, Shelly has served as worship leader alongside Beth Moore, Tony Nolan, Andy Stanley, and toured North America with renowned Irish Hymn-writers Keith & Kristyn Getty.
Shelly followed her calling to Nashville, TN in 2003 to attend Belmont University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Music. After graduating in 2007, her songs began to gain the attention of the Christian music industry, as “Power of the Cross” was awarded Song of the Year by the Gospel Music Association, and her song “Draw Near” was awarded Scripture Song of the Year.
After releasing her independent album Mosaic of Grace in 2009, Shelly signed her first publishing and recording deal with LifeWay Worship in February 2011. Her debut EP Power of the Cross released in August 2012, in partnership with Maranatha! Music, with the lead single “All Things Beautiful” impacting Christian radio formats.
In September 2014, Shelly’s full-length worship album Your Kingdom Come released worldwide through LifeWay Worship, in partnership with Elevate Entertainment.
In January 2016, Shelly released her follow up worship album entitled Measureless, which debuted in the top 50 on iTunes, with the lead-off single “Loved Me First” hitting the #1 spot at Christian Radio the first month.
Less than six months later, in June 2016, Shelly released her first ever live worship album, Christ Be Everything (LIVE), recorded and filmed at 1971 Sounds in Atlanta, GA.
Shelly has just completed her first Christmas album, Christmas Is Beautiful, set to release October 2017 and will be launching a nationwide Christmas Tour in November 2017.
“This album was really fun for me artistically – I feel like I got to really spread my wings and fly for the first time on any album I’ve ever recorded. Being a worship artist, I’m so often boxed in with trying to keep melodies easy for the crowd to sing along with, thus preventing me from having too much fun vocally with songs. But with this album, because of all the jazz elements and fun classic songs we did, I had total freedom to just SING and do whatever I felt, which was SO fun for me!” stated Shelly.
Writing the songs for this album was a uniquely different experience for Shelly than writing for her other albums because of the Story she got to tell with her lyrics. “Because this is a Christmas album, we knew going into it all of our songs would be focused on telling the story of Christmas in a unique and fresh way. We got to unpack this massive idea of God, the Creator of the Universe, becoming a tiny embryo, being born as a baby, living a human life, all for the purpose of giving His life for us to save us from ourselves and reconcile us with Himself. That’s a huge, mysterious, beautiful Story, and it was so rewarding having a chance to pour my heart into telling that Story from my perspective. Christmas is that time of year that it seems the whole world is more open to hearing the Gospel. I hope this album brings the Gospel to life in a unique way for someone who may not be interested in God or be aware of how much He loves them” she said. “So much heart and creativity and intentionality was poured into each musical moment on this record – I’m so very proud and in awe of how it turned out!”
“One of the things I love about this album is the variety – there is something for everyone on this album – worship, pop, jazz, big band, folk and some beautiful, tender moments for the grand piano and strings to have the spotlight and soar. It’s an amazing blend of so many musical ingredients that make my heart happy, I hope it makes other people happy, too!”
Shelly spends her time writing songs for the Church, serving as a worship leader at her home church, and traveling the country striving to build the Kingdom of God through her music. Shelly and her husband Jack have been married for twelve years and currently live in Woodstock, GA, along with their daughter Mary Carson.
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