By: James Greene
Conception Bay South, for all its beauty and nice folks, is a long way from Nashville. Yet, Mallory Johnson didn’t miss a beat when she left her home to record her songs in Music City. There is something about country music that resonates with Newfoundlanders. Maybe it’s the love of the simple life; small towns, big trucks, light beer, or perhaps hunting with high powered rifles. People from Burgeo to Bay Bulls and everywhere in between are steeped in the sounds of Nashville. One need only make a trip to the Eastbound Hoedown just outside Avondale to see the effect. Last years’ festival featured none other than Rascal Flatts. It also featured Mallory Johnson at the gig of her life so far. She followed that up with a Canadian Country Music Association Spotlight Contest win in 2017 and this summer she’ll be playing Atlantic Fest with heavy hitters Serena Ryder, Corey Hart, and Blake Shelton. It would seem Mallory’s career is just beginning to lift off. Check out our interview with her to find out just where she’s headed.
Rock Eden: The CCMA award is a big one. In a Canada wide competition voted by fans, you came out on top. In the past, we have seen Newfoundlanders vote en masse to support their own. Do you think that was a factor in your win?
Mallory Johnson: Newfoundlanders definitely know how to support their own, and I’m so proud to be from a province that really roots for local talent. It was amazing to see so many friends, fans, other artists, and media jump on board to promote this. What was really cool about this contest, is that the public could only vote once per IP address so no one had the advantage of refreshing their screens to keep voting. So yeah, I do think that having such a supportive province was a factor, but at the same time, each finalist had really strong support from their own provinces as well. We all had people outside of our home provinces voting too so it had to have been a close call. To be a finalist was awesome in itself, but to come out on top and be able to represent NL during the biggest week in Canadian country music, is the cream cheese icing on top.
RE: In some of your songs, particularly 'Good Mistake to Make' and 'Postcard from Tennessee', you seem to sing about women embracing independence. What female artists to you relate to in this respect?
MJ: I’m definitely influenced by strong females in the industry because that’s what I grew up on and that’s the kind of artist I hope to be. Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, The Dixie Chicks, Miranda Lambert, and Kacey Musgraves are just a few examples of artists who I love for that reason. They push boundaries, empower women, and are just really great at what they do.
RE: Tell us about your best gig. Also, your worst.
MJ: Getting to play the Eastbound Hoedown stage in Avondale, NL, was pretty amazing because of how massive that festival is. It was my first time playing a stage like that as a solo artist, so it’s definitely a memorable one. The worst was probably a bar gig about a year ago. My band moved around schedules and drove pretty far out of their way to set up and sound check early in the afternoon, only to find out that plans were changed last minute and we had to tear it all down and come back later to set up and check everything moments before starting the set. It was just very disorganized, and not much of a turnout. When it was all said and done, we still played well and had fun, but we definitely walked away knowing what we would and wouldn’t do next time.
RE: What can we expect from you in the next year?
MJ: Hopefully an album! Haha. We’ve been gradually releasing singles off of my debut record, and I’m really looking forward to getting the whole thing out there into everyone’s hands. I’m also hoping to perform more often, both in Canada and the US. I love being on stage, and performing live is the best way to connect with fans!