''Over the years Jeanie has told me some amazing stories about her career as a backup singer during the 1960's and 1970's. I have been
wanting to put together a project like this for many years, but it just never seemed to come together until now''.
''I met Jeanie five or six years ago through a cousin of mine who has been a dear and close friend of hers since the 1960's. We began talking about family,
and since her maiden name was Johnson, and since my family descended from a long line of Johnson's in Alabama - some of which moved into Mississippi where Jeanie now lives, we feel pretty certain that
there may actually be a family connection between us, but we can't be certain since we haven't actually researched it''.
''Jeanie and I hit off right from the start, and have been the closest of friends since, which is one of the reasons I have come to affectionately call her
''Jeanie has spent the last four Christmases with
our family. We filmed this the day before New Years Eve last year. We talked all day, and I could of talked all through the night I think, but she was getting tired towards the end, but there were so
many good stories, it was hard for me to find a stopping point''.
is my tribute to her as a person with a beautiful Christian soul, and as an often overlooked, and unsung musical talent. Some may say, "Who is Jeanie Greene?". What many don't realize, is that they have heard her,
but not actually realized it''.
''This is part one of three parts.
All together they total a little over an hour. I tried to condense it down to as much as possible, but there was just so much good footage that was captured that it would have been a cardinal sin to leave
''The musical snippets used throughout the interview
are from various points in her career, mainly from her solo album she created back in 1971 entitled "Mary Called Jeanie Greene" which is available on CD from Amazon.com. This has certainly been a labor of love and I hope you enjoy it'', says Storm.
Interview and Film by D.R. Storm, December 2010.
- AND THEN THE
This tracks will, of course, be a complete surprise to Sun collectors. Only a scrap of address in Corinth,
Mississippi offers any clue about Ms. Johnson. The reverb suggest that the recording might have been mate at 706 Union rather than submitted as a home demo. This
is the only gospel material on Johnson's tape. All her other material is quite secular.
It deserved no less after spending nearly a half century in a dusty tape box. There also decided to try one more time
to find out who the singer was and what she had done with her life before disappearing. This time we succeeded, and what we found was a much bigger story than any of us anticipated.
STUDIO SESSION FOR MARY JOHNSON
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING
SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS EARLY 1956
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE EARLY 1956
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - JACK CLEMENT
Mary Johnson filled the house with music to the delight of her family. Some time in 1956, the Johnsons decided
it wasn't enough to listen to her performing live in the living room.
wanted to have a record of her music. And so off to the Memphis Recording Service they went, making the 45-minute drive to that small studio on Union Avenue where - despite the growing success of the Sun label - you could still walk in off the street and make
a record for your own use. $3 for one side. $5 for a two-sided 10-inch disc.
had just celebrated her 13th birthday. She sat herself down at the piano and went through a small portion of her repertoire. She began with her favorite song, the theme from "River Of No Return", a 1954 movie wih Marilyn Monroe that had thrilled her romantic
soul. She then launched into Duke Ellington's 1931 tune "Mood Indigo". Then turning her attention to country music, she completed a brief version of Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart". Finally, she turned to a gospel tune called "My Heart Is A Chapel". And
then she was done. Four tunes in barely ten minutes. Four unself-conscious performances in styles ranging from pop to country to jazz to gospel. Her piano work was rudimentary, but her vocals revealed a confidence and ability way beyond her years. The Johnsons
paid their money, packed up their discs and drove back to Corinth.
The story might have ended there except Jack Clement, who had recently gone to work for Sam Phillips, decided that this bright-eyed youngster from across the state line had something. Rather than recycling the tape, as was customary, Clement
stored it away in a carefully marked box.
Phillips listened to it at some points; perhaps he never did. In any case, the dust on the tape box probably hadn't been disturbed for 44 years when we carried it up to the studio and sampled the tracks.