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|Birth name||Cynthia Johnson|
April 22, 1956 |
Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
|Genres||Funk, disco, R&B, jazz, pop, soul, rock|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, actress, producer|
|Labels||Casablanca Records, Megabien Music|
|Associated acts||Lipps Inc., Flyte Tyme, Sounds of Blackness|
Prior to becoming the lead singer of Lipps Inc., Johnson had become well-known locally for winning the 1976 Miss Black Minnesota, USA pageant, and for being the lead vocalist of the well-known Minneapolis band Flyte Tyme for seven years. Being also an accomplished saxophone player, Johnson utilized her saxophone talents in Flyte Tyme, and she was also the songwriter of many of their songs. Johnson also co-wrote some songs with band members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, today a multi-Grammy award winning songwriting and producing team. Johnson completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, Morris in 1978, and continued to perform with Flyte Tyme for a brief time. Shortly after she left Flyte Tyme, the band evolved into The Time, a side project of Prince.
Johnson was the lead singer of the popular Minneapolis-based band Lipps Inc., best known for its 1980 song "Funkytown". The song hit No. 1 in 28 countries, sold more than 35 million copies worldwide, and earned a place in the "One-Hit Wonders" section of the Rock & Roll Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Other singles include "Designer Music" and "Rock It", but the group never matched the success of "Funkytown", which continues to influence popular culture from the movie screen (e.g. Shrek 2 ) to the Olympics (2010 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy). The group received several awards, among them three Billboard Music Awards and "Soul Record of the Year" by the AMOA association[clarification needed]. Johnson left the band after the group's third album Designer Music was released.
Late 1980s to present
Johnson has continued her musical career and remains active as a member of the three-time Grammy Award-winning gospel group Sounds of Blackness, as a musician on albums by Maceo Parker and Prince, on labels such as Motown, and on projects of Grammy-winning producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. She also has worked as a jingle singer on commercials for products from 3M, Volkswagen, Nissan, Target, FedEx, Ford and McDonald's. She has also sung for U.S. presidents. Johnson was the host of the first episode of the FunkyTown TV series, produced by the Minneapolis-based production company, Megabien Entertainment.
In addition to working with others, Johnson continues her career as a solo artist. Her debut album, All That I Am, sums up a lifetime of vocal artistry, showing her talents as singer, songwriter and producer. The album was released on December 15, 2013 on the Megabien Music label. Johnson's next album will be produced by award-winning producer Mark Howard and Hans W. Stachowiak.
Solo albums and lead vocalist
- 2013 All That I Am - Main Vocals, Songwriter, Producer
- 2003 Funkytown - Lipps, Inc. - Lead Vocals, Songwriter, Composer
- 1992 Funkyworld - Lipps, Inc. - Lead Vocals
- 1981 Designer Music - Lipps, Inc. - Lead Vocals, Songwriter
- 1980 Pucker Up - Lipps, Inc. - Lead Vocals
- 1979 Mouth to Mouth - Lipps, Inc. - Lead Vocals 
- 2013 Purple Snow, Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound - Lead Vocals, Songwriter (1970s recording on compilation)
- 2013 He's Faithful - James Pullin & Remnant - Vocals (Soprano)
- 2012 Nothing But a Breeze/A Touch on the Rainy Side - Jesse Winchester - Choir/Chorus
- 2012 Natchez Trace - Kevin Bowe - Vocal Harmony
- 2011 Sounds of Blackness - Sounds of Blackness - Alto (Vocals), Group Member, Vocals
- 2011 Hope One Mile - G.B. Leighton - Vocal Harmony
- 2010 Chinese Whispers - Alison Scott - Vocals (Background)
- 2010 Life's a Party: the Best of In Between - Primary Artist
- 2007 Between Saturday Night and Sunday Morning - Mick Sterling - Main Personnel, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
- 2007 Kings and Queens: Message from the Movement - Sounds of Blackness - Alto (Vocals)
- 2007 The One Who's Leavin' - Doug Spartz - Vocals (Background)
- 2006 Overflow - Kevin Davidson - Banjo
- 2006 I'll Play All Night Long - John McAndrew - Vocals (Background)
- 2005 In the Fellowship - Patrick Lundy - Tenor (Vocal)
- 2005 Right About Love - Reneé Austin - Vocal Harmony, Vocals (Background)
- 2005 School's In! - Maceo Parker - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
- 2005 Unity - Sounds of Blackness - Alto (Vocals), Primary Artist, Vocals
- 2005 Unity  - Unity - Alto (Vocals), Primary Artist, Vocals
- 2004 Deliverance - Shane Henry - Vocals (Background)
- 2003 Angels on the Freeway - Kevin Bowe - Vocals
- 2003 Cross N Water - Ford - Vocals, Vocals (Background)
- 2003 David Young - David Young - Vocals (Background)
- 2003 Made by Maceo - Maceo Parker - Vocals (Background)
- 2003 Sweet Talk - Reneé Austin - Vocals (Background)
- 2002 Solid Gold Funk - Vocals
- 2002 Soul Symphony - Sounds of Blackness - Alto (Vocals)
- 1999 Billboard Top Dance Hits: 1976-1980 - Saxophone, Vocals
- 1999 Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions - Shannon Curfman - Vocals (Background)
- 1998 Lonnie Hunter & The Voices of St. Mark - Lonnie Hunter - Alto (Vocals)
- 1998 Lost in the Blues - Doug Maynard - Vocals (Background)
- 1998 River of Song: A Musical Journey Down the Mississippi - Producer
- 1988 When the Lights Go Out - Pia Zadora - Vocals (Background)
- 1988 Just Like That - Brownmark - Vocals (Background)
- 1988 Personal & Attention - Stacy Lattisaw - Vocals (Background)
- 1988 Omaiyo - Robin Adnan Anders - Vocals
- 1996 Best of the Singer's Voice - Performer, Primary Artist
- 1996 Greatest Hits - Georgia Mass Choir - Choir/Chorus
- 1995 It Must Be Christmas - Debbie Duncan - Choir/Chorus, Vocals
- 1994 African-American Music in Minnesota - Vocals
- 1993 Here It Is - Jevetta Steele - Vocals (Background)
- 1991 Imperial Bells of China - Hubei Song & Dance Ensemble - Photography
- 1991 Here It Is - Jevetta Steele - Vocals (Background)
- 1990 The Brojos - The Brojos - Rap, Vocals (Background)
- 1990 I Am - Elisa Fiorillo - Vocals (Background)
- 1988 Carry On, Vol. 2 - Ipso Facto - Vocals
- 1987 Kiss Serious - Chico DeBarge - Vocals (Background)
- 1980 Billboard Top Dance Hits: 1980 - Saxophone, Vocals
- 1978 A Touch on the Rainy Side - Jesse Winchester - Choir/Chorus
- Live performance "Higher Ground" with ABC Youth Choir, Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota, 2001
- Funkytown, TV series, 2013
- Les Annees Bonheur, French TV show, 2014
Awards and recognitions
- Miss Black Minnesota USA, 1976
- Induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio as a member of Lipps Inc
- Induction into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame as a member of Lipps Inc.
- Recipient of Platinum in the US, Double Platinum in Canada, Gold in France and Germany, Silver in the UK, among others, as the lead singer on "Funkytown"
- Three Billboard Music Awards, 1980
- Three time Grammy Award Winner as a member of Sounds of Blackness, 1991, 1993 and 1998
- "Cynthia Johnson, lead vocalist of Flyte Tyme for seven years". Cynthiajohnson.net. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
- "Funky Town" (in German). 3sat.de. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
- "New album of Cynthia Johnson to be released in 2014". Megabien.net. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
- "Cynthia Johnson - Discography". Cynthiajohnson.net. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
- Official Artist Home Page
- Cynthia Johnson is credited as a saxophonist on this compilation (containing "Funkytown")
- Lipps Inc., Disco's Littlest, Oddest Conglomerate, Turns Minneapolis into An Unlikely 'Funkytown' (People Magazine – July 28, 1980)
- TV show Funkytown (Video Production by Megabien Entertainment - Sept. 2012)
- Washington Post article "Funkytown: Digging on the rise of soul music in 1980s Minneapolis"