This article appears in the January 2012 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit louisvillemagazine.com.
“When I was little, as soon as I heard The Little Mermaid I flipped my (expletive),” says Carly Johnson, who has lived in Louisville since she was seven. “I’ve always had terrible stage fright, but I would sing all the time in my room. I tried to keep it under wraps, but sometimes my mom would catch me. Really embarrassing.” By high school, she forced herself to sing in front of others because she “just loved it so much,” going on to study music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. A former waitress, she is currently a full-time performer in town, singing several nights a week at local restaurants (Mozz, to name one) and with the nine-piece band Liberation Prophecy, which will release a new album this year. “With Liberation Prophecy,” she says, “it’s jazz that doesn’t sound like jazz. It’s saxophone folk on steroids.” Johnson says people have told her she has an “old-soul” voice. “When I’m lucky,” she says, “I’ll get Ella Fitzgerald or Etta James. I always had this fantasy in my head that I’d win Grammys and do all of these wonderful things. I still have that little fantasy.” And, no, she hasn’t thrown away her old serving shoes. “Don’t want to jinx myself,” Johnson says.
Photo: courtesy Mickie Winters