"Piano Pop" Artist to Open for de Azevedo
Daily Universe

BYU student Jared Johnson will open for the Julie de Azevedo Y Cycling benefit concert in the de Jong Concert Hall tonight, October 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Johnson, 23, a senior from Houston majoring in public relations, will play original piano compositions in a style he described as "piano pop." He said his music is somewhere between jazz and new age.

While Johnson said he only plays pop music now, he began his musical training by taking classical piano lessons from his mom at age five.

He said he composed his first piano piece when he was 15 after being inspired by a Jon Schmidt concert he attended.

"I'd never heard piano music like that. What I'd heard before had been pretty boring," he said.

Johnson said he was inspired to compose after attending the concert, and started writing piano music in a style similar to Schmidt's.

In high school Johnson began learning percussion. He participated in drum lines in both high school and at BYU. Because of this, Johnson said he wanted his piano music to have more rhythm.

While Johnson continued to play the piano in high school, he didn't really start composing until he went on his mission to Colorado. He said he composed about 20 songs on preparation days.

The piano pieces Johnson writes are a way for him to describe emotions, or things that have happened to him, he said.

Two of the pieces he wrote have lyrics. The first was for his freshman ward, and the second was for his wife. He said he played it as a surprise for his new bride at their reception.

However, Johnson said he doesn't write "mellow, cheesy love songs." He said his music is more upbeat.

Johnson's musical talent is more than just a hobby. In March he released a CD titled, "Piano Pop" with 11 original songs. He also said he performs about once a month.

Earlier this year he opened for the group Colors at a benefit concert. He also opened for a Peter Breinholt concert held at BYU last semester, he said.

"It is hard to put into words the performance Jared gave," said Ryan Merrill of Colors. "It is easy to see that he plays what comes from his heart."

Johnson said he realized a dream last year when he performed with Jon Schmidt at the Freedom Festival in Orem.

As he often does, Schmidt asked if someone from the audience would like to play with him.

"I hopped up on stage and jammed with Jon while 15,000 people screamed and cheered. It was one of the best nights of my life," Johnson said.

Recently, Johnson decided to incorporate his percussion training into his piano music. He said he actually beats one hand on the piano like it's a Conga drum while continuing to play the piano with the other hand.

"Rhythmically, I can tell he's a drummer," said Tyler Castleton of Deseret Book.