Karen Johnson

KJPR Publicity & Artist Relations founder, Karen Johnson, is a veteran communications professional in the business of entertainment and music -- as record label executive, independent publicist, artist representative, writer, video producer, and more -- with a background in legislative research, constituent service and speechwriting on Capitol Hill. For nearly three decades, she’s worked with such eminent artists as Ringo Starr, Etta James, Tony Bennett, U2, Taj Mahal, Dennis Hopper, Madonna, Ice-T, Los Lobos, Roger Daltrey, and iconic corporations, including Private Music/ BMG, Warner Bros Records, Universal Music. In recent years, Karen also worked as disaster relief worker for FEMA, and post-Katrina volunteer at Habitat for Humanity. Her first career began with the McGovern presidential campaign, followed by a decade, as staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Johnson operates KJPR Publicity/ Artist & Agency Relations (bi-coastal), serving clients as music publicist, PR writer and marketing/ media consultant since 1998. Skills include: writing, research, editing (biographies, press releases, speeches; corporate/nonprofit profiles; research reports); full service imaging & media relations; event planning; public speaking; video production; corporate operations; marketing; budget administration. Clients are largely focused in roots music -- including the blues, Americana, jazz, indigenous -- in film and video, plus literary works and public service projects. Johnson maintains a media list of several thousand contacts in print journalism, television, radio, production, and all varieties of new media. From 1989-1997, Johnson was VP of Publicity & Artist/Corporate Relations, at Private Music (BMG), directing national publicity campaigns for all artists and recordings on the record label. Responsible for corporate imaging, she guided the transition of Private from its initial reputation as a boutique home for instrumental music, to its breakout as an eclectic but mainstream competitor, with the marketing muscle of a major label. In 1988, she was producer, writer, publicist and distributor of the acclaimed “Musicians for Life" AIDS awareness videos, featuring Madonna, Los Lobos, Whoopi Goldberg, Ice-T. The PSAs ran on MTV over the course of a decade. From 1985-1988, she worked with major PR firms, with clients including musicians, record companies, such special events as Roy Orbison’s “Black and White Ball,” Keith Richards’ debut solo album, the films of Jack Lemmon and an Oscar campaign for actor Dennis Hopper. Her ability for clients’ “comebacks” (e.g., scheduling Tony Bennett’s first MTV appearance and guiding him through sell-out concert tours, his first in years) was the basis for much of her work to come at Private Music, where she specialized in artist re-development for Ringo Starr, Taj Mahal, Etta James, many others. In 1972, for McGovern for President, Johnson “worked credentials” at the Miami convention, having been mentored the previous year by California Democratic Party Chairs John Burton and Willie Brown (who became San Francisco's iconic Mayor), while writing issue papers for the northern CA campaign HQ, and handling "secondary schedules" for college speakers. From 1974-1983, Johnson was legislative assistant, speechwriter, correspondent and caseworker for Congressman George Miller; she answered Watergate mail for Senator Cranston; she aided House Govt. Ops Committee; and she was appointed Executive Director of the Congressional Clearinghouse on Women's Rights, then a legislative research arm of the House of Representatives. She assisted in passage of landmark bills to remedy child abuse, to support the WIC infant feeding program, and to promote finance reform in federal campaigns, and joined Bella Abzug’s post-Congressional staff at WomenUSA. From 2007 to the present, Karen has also devoted significant time to volunteerism, from Obama for America 2008 & 2012 (as precinct captain), to the aforementioned Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, to Los Angeles food banks, addiction recovery communities and homeless programs. As of 2015, she resides primarily in New Jersey, caring for her 93-year-old father with Alzheimer’s. She works freelance, as a writer and consultant. [Contact Karen Johnson ~ kjprar@aol.com ~ www.facebook.com/karenjohnsonkjpr]