(Melbourne, AU) Singer, songwriter, rapper, producer and world traveller… Chico Johnson says he’s a busy man and “lovin’ it!”
“When I first moved to Melbourne, Australia, I passed through London and, man, I can’t wait to return, hopefully on tour!”
While travelling from the pink sands of Harbour Island in the Caribbean to the UK, Chico was blown away by London’s rich culture, ethnic vibes and fashion scene. Gripped by the fusion of Caribbean and African rhythms throughout London’s music scene, Chico feels his next album will be well received on the UK stage.
His third independent album, ‘Milk & Honey’, is an eclectic array of soul, r&b hip-hop, rap and reggae music, infused with an unshakeable truth of the Gospel.
“This album, for me, unlike any other, is special. It’s a collection of heartache, struggle, change, growth and sacrifice, with the same underlying tone of how LOVE conquers all,”
“You can always become a better you. There is always light at the end of the tunnel – no matter your circumstances – if you choose to show up, pick up your sword and fight.
“So every song has either inspiration or a challenge for the listener. Personally, that is how God is in my life. No matter how dark it seems, He is there to challenge us and inspire us. He is the Light and, through Him, His love, His Son and what He has done for me, I know there is always HOPE. So, for this project, I wanted to reflect that.”
Born and bred in the Bahamas, Chico later moved to the States, where he lived over a decade spending time in New York, Massachusetts, Florida, and now in Melbourne, Australia. Chico has been influenced by a unique blend of talented, cross-genre artists from around the world, which is evidenced in his music catalogue.
“The versatility of genres in all of my albums reflects who I am. I can’t stick to one. When selecting the playlist for Milk & Honey I didn’t pick through the music and say, ‘This is what’s in popular demand’ or ‘This is what will win over the crowd’ – it’s simply how I felt I was led to do. For me, this is my unique formula, and I believe it is my most effective way to reach the youth, which is a major part of my ministry.
“I write most of my songs within 20 minutes – and I’m not being conceited when I say that. When I’m connected with God, He just gives them to me! It is a gift from Him. However, when I am going against the grain, and trying to create something that the ‘world’ wants or sometimes what I want, honestly it takes me much longer to create. I think most connected artists would agree, you know when you are led or in the right vein because it flows. That’s a gift you can only tap into through walking in obedience. That’s what I’m trying to do, and for me, sometimes obedience isn’t easy… but it is worth it!”
After living in the USA, Chico moved back the Bahamas, where he met his wife, TV Producer/ Director Danielle (McAlpine) Johnson. They have since taken residence in the Land Down Under, where they have lived for the past 13 years. Together they run CheekyMac Productions, specialising in music videos and a not-for-profit organization, using the performing arts to impact the youth through programmes and projects surrounding hot-button issues, such as bullying, racism, identity, suicide, depression and living a purpose-driven life.
“When we started our production company it was purely for my music videos,”
But it was amazing when it expanded to collaborating with other independent artists, and even greater last year, when Danielle took a leap of faith after multiple ‘promptings’. She quit her job as a television commercial producer/director, and the reward was even greater, as she pitched and landed our first independent budget to produce a hybrid documentary series, entitled ‘Behind The Sash’.
“This documentary was created to shine a light on issues of injustice that impact women and children in Australia and abroad. This gives us a larger platform to impact the next generation, which is the heartbeat of why we do what we do! Off the back of that, she was asked to co-produce an American reality show called ‘Behind The Crown’, which we have also been signed up to do. It’s crazy when you listen to that quiet whisper where it can lead.”
In the midst of all this, Chico and Danielle are the proud parents of three beautiful children.
“When you are doing something you love, in my case music, it’s not a sense of juggling when it comes to being a parent, a husband or even in ministry,”
“I just see it as who I am; it’s part of me. It’s woven into my DNA. It’s part of CheekyMac, our movement and our mission. It’s part of who we are. We both understand that this is God’s plan for our lives, and no matter how long it takes, we will walk it out with what we know in our heart of hearts is our calling – bringing His plan for our life to fruition, and bringing glory to His Kingdom through the arts and entertainment industry. And it ain’t all roses!”
“There are those times where I wish I could do more, be more, but every opportunity I get to do music on any scale, I feel, is a blessing and it’s my honour and a gift. I am grateful that I was chosen to use my talents and abilities to affect people in a positive way. Danielle calls our life ‘a tapestry of beautiful chaos’,” Chico laughs. “At times it is insanely chaotic, but when it’s Spirit-led it is beautiful. On the contrary, if it’s not Spirit-led, it can be disastrous. It’s just our job to discern the narrow path.”
Last year, Chico was humbled to hear from the A&R staff of Red Revolution, South Africa, and learn that his first single, ‘One’, had landed a spot on the international gospel compilation CD/DVD, ‘Ultimate Gospel Volume 1’. “To see my name next to the likes of Erica Campbell, Todd Dulaney and Jonathan McReynolds was a complete honour. These artists are hitting the multitudes in a powerful way, and I hope to one day join them!
“My hope for this album is to touch the world. Period. I can’t downplay that and sit in some false humility; I want to succeed with the gift I’ve been given. The same way artists are blowing up on the charts, influencing the next generation the wrong way through selling millions of records, I want to be able to counteract that, and be an artist out there singing and rapping to affect the world in a positive light. That’s how we can all touch the stage for the Lord’s Kingdom.”
Chico Johnson’s album, Milk & Honey, is due to be released worldwide and in the UK this summer, through Red Revolution, SA, and is available through all major online platforms.
Written By: Danielle McAlpine Johnson
Photos by: Lucia Hou G&G Studios Melbourne, Australia