Prudence Johnson grew up in a musical family in Moose Lake, Minnesota. In the early 1970s, Prudence was a co-founder with Tim Sparks of the vocal jazz group Rio Nido. The group recorded three albums and performed extensively, most often in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area.
After her time with Rio Nido, she recorded three solo albums for Red House Records — Vocals, Songs of Greg Brown, and Little Dreamer, the latter a collection of children's lullabyes from around the world which earned Johnson a 1992 Grammy Award nomination.
She was awarded a McKnight Fellowship to record Moon Country, a collection of Hoagy Carmichael songs. She has collaborated with four Minnesota composers to create A Girl Named Vincent, a presentation of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay set to music.
In 2005, Johnson produced, directed and performed in a musical stage production about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald titled Ten November. The production featured Claudia Schmidt, Ruth McKenzie, Kevin Kling and Peter Ostroushko. She also produced the CD release. The production tells the story of the sinking of this ore ship from the point of view of crew members, local sailors, and the wives of several crew members.
With the re-release on CD of Hi Fly and I Like to Riff in 2007 by the Japanese label Bittersweet America, the original Rio Nido lineup of Johnson, Sparks and Tom Lieberman performed a number of reunion shows. Rio Nido was inducted into the Minnesota Rock and Country Hall of Fame in April 2007.
- Vocals (1987)
- Dick King Classic Swing and Prudence Johnson: King Swings, Pru Sings (1998)
- Songs of Greg Brown (1991)
- Little Dreamer
- Moon Country
- s'Gershwin (2004)
- PeRu (with Gary Rue) (2006)
With Rio Nido
- Matt Peiken journalism website.
- Canter, Andrea (February 2005). "Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard: February 3rd at the Dakota". Jazz Police. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
- Homestead Community Concerts.
- New Music Arts.
- City Pages. Accessed on January 30, 2008.