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Believing your music means something to the people hearing it is important for any artist. Carolyn Dawn Johnson knows this very well.

She says, "I remember asking my mother when I was young how anyone could live without it? Music could make me happy, make me cry, soothe me. And, music could and still does take me to places nothing else can."

Her clear, honest message comes through loud and clear on Room With A View, her debut album on Arista/Nashville. Carolyn's first effort for her new label is a good example of the impact she feels she can make on the through her experiences. She was born on a farm in Deadwood, Alberta, surrounded by music as a youngster. Her parents listened to Jim Reeves, Don Williams, and other traditional country icons. But Carolyn didn't limit herself to listening to country. Her musical horizons pulled her toward a variety of artists like Charley Pride, Amy Grant, Patty Loveless, Marty Stuart, Jann Arden, Sheryl Crow, Fleetwood Mac, Abba and Martraca Berg. As a child with stars in her eyes, she would make her own recordings on a home tape recorder, and attend every concert she could.

When Carolyn went to college to study the sciences and work in a health club part time, Carolyn Dawn Johnson would go to local country bars to listen to others, cultivating her growing talent. This, in turn, made other people take notice. With her talent, she was encouraged to look into developing a musical career. At the same time, though, she didn't want to jeopardize her education. She says, "My standard response was, no, I'm going to school. But, every time Id be thinking maybe I can do it. I really started believing in the power of positive thinking. I did a lot of goal-setting. I'd write things down and make them come true, I think sometimes just by setting the goals. I'd ask myself, 'What are the little steps that can get me where I want to go?' and I'd try to do something every single day to achieve a step or two."

Carolyn began taking a few more proactive steps as she spent ten months at a recording engineering school in Vancouver, British Columbia, learning the technical aspects of the business. She studied Billboard to learn who was who in the business, and sent away for a how-to songwriting video featuring hit Nashville writers. She joined the Nashville Songwriters Association International and traveled to Nashville to participate in a workshop in 1994. The positive responses she received made her even more determined to make her musical career happen. For three years, she commuted between Alberta and Nashville until she was able to obtain a work visa. As is always the case for most of the new talent in Nashville, she began to sing demos. Late in 1997, she signed a publishing deal with Patrick Joseph Music, home to Matraca Berg, among others. Carolyn's songs came quickly. First were "Squeezing The Love Out Of You" and "I Want To Know," both on an album by Redmond & Vale. Kathy Mattea cut "Out Of The Blue." Her first single was "I'm Yours," the title track to an album by Linda Davis. Then she was asked to sing on Kenny Rogers' Wild Horses album. She says her plan was to dwell on writing, and then, in a year or two, aim for a record deal. Sometimes things move faster that you expect. After she sang on more and more demos, record labels began calling and asking about her availability as an artist.

Prior to inking her record deal, Carolyn Dawn Johnson met Paul Worley (Dixie Chicks, Pam Tillis, Martina McBride) who offered to produce her first studio outing. Around this time she also met her manager, Scott Simon, who first experienced her singing My Baby Loves Me and Heavens Just A Sin Away at a club in Nashville's Printers Alley. In between gigs, she waited tables and tended bar at Phil Vassar's Hard Day's Night club, a hole-in-the-wall venue that Johnson calls Nashvilles best-kept secret. It was here where she ultimately met the Arista/Nashville executives who would offer her a label home.

Carolyn Dawn Johnson's incredible work ethic has carried her in a few short years to the brink of national notoriety. The release of her first album caps a year in which her success with Single White Female (a #1 hit for Chely Wright) helped earn her Music Row magazines Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year award for 2000. Her debut 'Room With A View' is a vivid display of Carolyn's impressive reputation as a songwriter, studio singer and background vocalist on the road. Her compositions have been recorded by artists including Jo Dee Messina, Pam Tillis and Kathy Mattea. Her credits as studio vocalist have appeared on album releases for Patty Loveless, Loretta Lynn and Kenny Rogers. And as backup singer for Martina McBride's live show, she took her talents on the road for McBride's 1999 and 2000 tour. 'Room With A View' is a culmination of soaring harmonies, compelling vocals and searing emotional honesty. On her stunning debut project, Johnson is joined by Martina McBride, Marty Stuart, Kim Carnes, Matraca Berg, Al Anderson, Mary Ann Kennedy, and Jason Sellers, artists whose respect for her music compelled them to lend their singing and playing talents. All of these elements were assembled in a first-effort collaboration by the Johnson-Worley production team.

'Room With A View' is comprised entirely of Carolyn Dawn Johnsons writings, and is obviously the work of someone able to bring the highly personal into play in making art. "I put everything about me out there," Carolyn says. "That's the way I live my life. Maybe I show too much, but I didnt really have a choice when it came to making the record. My favorite stuff is the really personal parts."

She adds, "Someone said, 'How do you feel about exposing your innermost self like that?' and I said, "I just don't think there's any other way to do it. I don't think it could have been anything else. That would have been lying to my listeners and lying to myself."

The 10-time nominated Carolyn Dawn Johnson will make another CMT appearance on Monday, September 10, 8-10 p.m. Eastern Time, when she performs on America's #1 country music channel's broadcast of the "Canadian Country Music Awards." Her unprecedented receipt of 10 CCMA nominations surpasses previous records by such Canadian entertainers as Anne Murray and Shania Twain.

Photos courtesy Arista Nashville.