Cy Falls graduate to entertain at Olympic's opening ceremony
By Jesse Sandejas, Houston Chronicle
Like many Americans, Jared Johnson is excited about the approaching
Winter Olympic Games.
"As a kid, I remember writing down all the Olympic winners and feeling
a special spirit when the national anthem was played for a gold
medal winner," Johnson said. "I can't wait to watch the Salt Lake
Games and cheer on the home team.
"I have always taken pride in the U.S. teams, but this will likely
be the Games I remember most because of my personal involvement."
The 23-year-old Johnson, a 1996 graduate of Cypress Falls High School,
won't be attempting triple axels or manning a bobsled this month,
but he'll usher in moments like those as one of 15 musicians invited
to perform at the Governor's Olympic Opening Ceremony Reception
on Friday in Salt Lake City.
A contemporary pianist and songwriter, Johnson was selected to perform
from a field of more than 500 musicians.
The event will draw political leaders from countries participating
in the 2002 Winter Games and President Bush is the keynote speaker.
So how did a former Copperfield resident now residing in Provo,
Utah, earn such an honor?
"Ralph Johnson, president of Meetings America, was recruited to
find entertainment for the reception," he said. "In mid-November,
he e-mailed me to introduce the event and invite me to perform.
"After I called to confirm, I discovered that Ralph found my Web
site on a link from utahbands.com, a local music directory. He listened
to a few samples on my site and said it was the exact sound he wanted."
Johnson said his sound is influenced by Utah pianist Jon Schmidt
and Jim Brickman. Harry Connick Jr., Billy Joel and Bruce Hornsby
are other influences, he said.
Listeners can sample his music via downloads from his Web site,
www.jaredjohnson.com. Two CDs he's recorded, Piano Pop and Before
Tomorrow, are available for purchase from the site.
While pursuing a public relations degree at Brigham Young University,
Johnson has performed Utah-area concerts and developed a loyal following.
So, he said, he'll be undaunted playing to global dignitaries. He
said his development as a musician in Cy-Fair has helped him build
a stage presence.
"I was very involved with the Cy Falls band. It was basically life
during high school," said Johnson, noting he played drums in the
school's marching band and was co-drum captain his senior year.
"I learned how to discipline myself and work toward team goals.
"The Cy Falls band won a national competition one year that earned
us a trip to Atlanta. We also participated regularly in contests
like UIL that demanded concentration and performing infront of hundreds
of people. You could say I learned how to be less nervous on stage."
At the reception, Johnson will perform "Mountain Dreams," an original
piece he wrote for the occasion. He plans to make the song downloadable
from his Web site following the event.
"While writing the piece, I pictured Olympic events in my mind and
curved the notes around the action like a soundtrack. I thought
about what kind of music would fit if I were watching a video of
Olympic performances. My intent was to match the spirit, emotion,
and reverence of the Games."
Johnson said this performance will expand the mission of his music,
which is to offer the world a positive alternative to immoral music.
"Hopefully, my music can calm people and offer them hope in times
when the world is in turmoil," Johnson said. "I think the most exciting
aspect (of the reception performance) is feeling like a part of
the Games, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"Athletes can share their passion through the sport of the Olympics,
but I get to share mine through my music."