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Jan (pronounced “Yahn”) Johansson is well-known throughout the United States, Europe and Japan as an accomplished acoustic musician, producer, and music instructor. Jan was born in Skelleftea, Sweden in 1958 and began playing acoustic music at the age of 14. By the time he was 18, Jan was playing guitar, fiddle, and mandolin. At an early age, his passion for music developed into a love of the traditional and bluegrass music of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Jan is a person who embodies the spirit of this American-born genre of music. With that spirit and determination, Jan came to the United States in 1986 to fulfill his dream of playing traditional and bluegrass music.
Jan first lived in Asheville, North Carolina for two years, then moved to Cary, North Carolina. Before his full time teaching career, Jan was one of the early members of the New Vintage Bluegrass Band. New Vintage became one of the most popular bluegrass groups in the US.
Other artists he has recorded and preformed with is Kenny Baker, Joe Isaacs, Tony Rice, J.D Crowe, , Bobby Hicks, Vassar Clements, Wayne Lewis, Frank Buchanan, Roland White, Mike Compton, Pat Enright, Stuart Duncan, Alan O'Bryant, Charlie Waller, Paul Brewster, David Grisman, Derwin Hinton, Gena Britt, Kenny and Amanda Smith, Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum, Bill Evans, Honi Deaton, Kathy Kallick, Jim Nunally, Anna Lund, Kim Gardner, Darrin Vincent, Andy Leftwich, Lou Reid, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, Josh Graves, John Hartford, Butch Robins & The International Bluegrass Band and many more.
Jan founded Johansson’s Acoustic Music Studio (JAMS) to provide music instruction for people of all age groups interested in bluegrass and other forms of acoustic music. Focused on one-on-one personal instruction, JAMS has taught hundreds of acoustic musicians in and around North Carolina in guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and bass. Jan encourages his students to share the music with people and organizations in their communities and often takes student groups to play at nursing homes and churches. His approach exemplifies his belief that music should be shared. Many of his students have gone on to successful careers in music - Lindsey Tims, Emily Frantz, Lorraine Jordan, Dan Wells, Eden and Jade Wells, Samantha Casey, John Teer, Spencer Mobley, Evan Edwards, Scott McBride
Jan also has continued working as a studio musician on various projects and has produced several solo CDs. His most recent solo project is entitled Kindred. On this CD, Jan seamlessly blends the music of his homeland, Sweden, with the acoustic sound of bluegrass. His other projects have ranged from playing in the orchestra for the Raleigh Little Theater’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” to being a principal organizer and participant in “The Music of Bill Monroe,” a tribute to the father of bluegrass that was presented in August 2007 by Friends of Bluegrass, to accompanying Terrence Mann on some of his Broadway hits at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre at Regency Park in Cary. Between 2000 and 2003 Jan performed as a band member for Ira David Wood’s production of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol – an annual Holiday tradition for thousands of fans around the Raleigh area.
In 2011 Julie Elkins and Jan Johansson – together with Lindsey Tims - saw a busy performance schedule including a number of Christmas events such as Morehead Holiday Stars 2011 Concert Series and opening for John Cowan Band at The Rooster’s Wife in Aberdeen, NC.
In April 2012, Jan received additional recognition for his musical talent and contributions when he was inducted as a Kentucky Colonel. In July of 2012 Johansson made a 2 week tour of his native Sweden with Rick Lassiter, Lindsey Tims and Sofia Nornsäter. The ensemble - The Johansson Homecoming Band - performed at venues From Näsville Bluegrass Festival in the south to Skellefteå in the north. At the present time the band plans to return for another tour of Sweden, Norway and Finland in the summer of 2013. In October of 2012, Jan collaborated with Irish vocalist, Niall Toner, with performances in Raleigh and Chapel Hill. Another ongoing project that he is involved in started in 2012 when he teamed up with Triangle acoustic music veteran Charles Pettee's band The Iron Mountain Messengers.
In 1994 – at the World Of Bluegrass in Owensboro, Ky - Johansson suffered a heart attack and the resultant cardio-vascular problems eventually forced him to undergo a successful heart transplant at University of North Carolina Hospitals at Chapel Hill, NC in March of 2011. He is passionate about sharing his own experience, strength and hope to heart transplant candidates who are waiting for a new heart.
Johansson’s main musical passion is to compose music. His compositions draw from several styles including traditional and contemporary Swedish, Bluegrass, Classical and Blues. Several of his originals can be heard on his youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpW4MZ_je34&list=PLB77A6E55A9DC6170
Having a strong interest in the history of bluegrass music, Jan is the host of the online radio show, “The Old Numbers”, a presentation of lesser-known bluegrass artists who were active from the 1950’s to the 1970’s
WRAL Tarheel Traveler did the following story on Jan Johansson on October 1, 2014