Twenty-year-old Sarah Loren Johnson has been hitting the right notes ever since her kindergarten days.
The spunky redhead has been into music for as long as she can remember, being brought up in a very musical house pushed her to test her musical abilities. She began playing music between the age of seven and 12.
“When I was seven, my dad taught me how to play guitar, but my fingers were too small for the strings and I didn’t have enough motivation,” said Johnson. “But when I was 12, I started to pick it up again and began playing seriously.”
The London, Ont., native performed her first paid gig at a small, run-down club in her home town.
“It was a hardcore place,” she said, laughing. “I was the opener for the opener for the opener. There were eight of my close friends sitting there cheering me on and everyone else just didn’t care sitting in a corner drinking their beer. That was my first paid gig and that was a big deal for me.”
Johnson now performs under the name Sarah Loren.
In September 2013, Johnson came to Humber College to study journalism. While living on residence, she played music for her friends, including cosmetic management graduate Emily Griffin, 20.
“I seriously am in love with Sarah’s voice,” said Griffin. “It’s so unique and recognizable, which I think is the most important part about being a singer. All I can say is that I can listen to her all day. I loved hearing her play on residence last year.”
First-year George Brown College Human Resources student, 19, Cheryl Pulimoottil is also mesmerized by the way Johnson plays her music.
“I was taken away by her,” Pulimoottil said. “This girl can really sing and she can perform really unique covers of popular songs we hear on the radio today. My favourite cover is her rendition of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song.”
After attending Humber for one semester, Johnson realized that a career in journalism was not something she truly wanted.
“My program just wasn’t right for me and I realized I wanted to go in a different direction,” said Johnson.
Johnson is currently in the creative industries program at Ryerson University hoping to have a career in the music industry, potentially working in a recording studio or as a talent scout.
“I’m happy with my decision and looking forward to the next four years in downtown Toronto,” said Johnson.
Johnson came out with her first album entitled Mesh, which was released independently in July 2013. “Insomnia,” “Dirt Roads,” “My Wine,” and “Fingers Blue,” are some of the songs in the album, all written by Johnson herself.
“I started writing the songs on the album when I was 14 but I released it when I was 19. It was interesting to see my song-writing process over the course of the five years develop into an album. It was a very coming of age type of concept,” said Johnson.
Musicians such as Joni Mitchell and Taylor Swift are her biggest inspiration, says Johnson, who admires their song-writing abilities.
“I truly feel like Taylor Swift is this generation’s Joni Mitchell for so many different reasons,” said Johnson. “They are both writing about the same thing but it’s a different generation and I like to take inspiration from two different times. It’s really cool.”