SJT: Thank your taking time out to talk to SmoothJazzTimes.com about your new CD, “Long Time Coming?” What inspired you to do this project?
JH: I always wanted to do an album to share my ability with the world. I also felt the time was right to do it. I also wanted to keep a promise to my grandfather Oliver Johnson that I would complete it.
SJT: “Long Time Coming” is such a powerful name. It says so much. Can you tell us more about how you came up with the name?
JH: The concept of ”Long Time Coming” was used for the title to tell my story, which if I could sum it up in a few words, would be from tragedy to triumph. It tells the story of how I’ve overcome many trials in my life one being through Hurricane Katrina and losing everything.
SJT: Are you a native of New Orleans, a place of jazz. What exactly did you go through during Katrina and did it have any impact in the making of “A Long Time Coming?”
JH: Yes I am a native of New Orleans a place very rich for music especially one of my favorite types – which you will hear in future projects ” Second Line.” Before Katrina I was supposed to record an album, but of course it happened and changed everything. I lost everything. I mean everything. I still think about it sometimes how that “one” day changed so many of our lives. It had a lot to do with the making of the project because it shows that no matter what one can still come out on top. Honestly it was a blessing in disguise. Even though I was supposed to record an album it may not have been this good and I would’ve never met my producer Daron Steward.
SJT: I know you are so thankful to be alive and well today to share your story.
JH: Yes, I am. Thank you.
SJT: Who worked with you on the new CD?
JH: I was blessed to have a great group of people work with me on this project such as Daron Steward who I just mentioned. He produced and mixed the entire album. My twin brother Cardell “Creole King” Henry who co-wrote LB, Thinking Of You, U-Turn, and Keep On Moving, as well as sang and rapped on them, Michael “Mike Mo” Moore who rapped on U-Turn, and Harold “Harry O” Olinger who played Guitar on Shrewsbury Strut and LB, Thinking Of You.
SJT: You play the Alto and Soprano saxophone. When did you first get into music?
JH: I started playing the Sax when I was 9 years old. I was given my very first Sax by my Uncle Pierre Porree. Who would’ve known 20 years later I would have an album out. Thanks Uncle Pierre and thanks to my parents who made me practice when I didn’t want to.
SJT: How long did it take to do this album and how does it make you feel that the project is received so well?
JH: It took approximately 20 month’s to do the album which is funny since I’ve been playing 20 years. I wanted to take my time to make sure the album was just right. It makes me feel very blessed that things are progressing with this project. Everyday I am getting one step closer to being a household name.
SJT: Your live shows are called the “J. Henry Experience.” Where can SmoothJazzTimes.com fans see you in action?
JH: Yes it’s called The J. Henry Experience because it is just that – an experience. I believe in being very interactive with the audience. When someone spends their hard earned money to come see J. Henry, they deserve to get more than what they paid for. I am at many different spots in the Atlanta area, such as The Loews Hotel, Sambuca, Café 290 just to name a few.
SJT: What do you want fans to get from this cd?
JH: I want fans to feel my soul through this project. I also want to make people feel encouraged, to know that they can accomplish anything. I would love to hear my songs played by others in shows, and talent shows. Most of all I want to heal people through my music.
SJT: You are spiritual and it shows in your music. What impact does your spirituality have on your life and career?
JH: Yes I am spiritual. It has impacted me because I follow Biblical principles to help me progress in life, such as Tithing, Sewing, Serving, and being Faithful in my ministry. I believe that if you follow God’s principles and put him first you can be successful in all other endeavors.
SJT: Jazz is the heart of most all music from past to present. Where do you think Smooth Jazz has its place in today’s society?
JH: I believe it has a significant place in society. I just feel our Genre does not get the attention it deserves now from mainstream media and radio. I believe with the right attention Smooth Jazz can be a dominant force again. People love jazz, and if it were accessible for everyone they would listen. I would love to be one of the driving forces to make this genre prominent again. I want to carry it on my back.
SJT: Music education is leaving so many school programs due to unfortunate budget cuts. We here at SmoothJazzTimes.com believe in promoting the importance of music education. Can you share with us your feelings about the importance of music education and where do you stand on the issue?
JH: I think it’s sad how funding for music education is so limited. There are many kids that really need music as an outlet. You have a lot of kids who depend on school to be able to get instruments. This is the only way for a lot of low income kids to have access to music. Music was my outlet and was therapeutic for me and is the same for a lot of these kids. Investing in Music Education will be a mission of mine for under privileged kids.
SJT: What’s next for J. Henry?
JH: What’s next for J. Henry is to bring the J. Henry Experience to the world. I also plan to begin working on my next project. I plan on doing my part in making Smooth Jazz a very dominant mainstream force again.
SJT: Thank you for taking the time out to talk to SmoothJazzTime.com. We wish you continued success.
JH: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.