His family wasn’t particularly musical. The music he loved dated back to long before he’d been born. He grew up too bashful to get up on a stage. He never took voice lessons until he was in college.
Despite all that, Johnathan Len was destined to sing. You could hear it from behind his bedroom door, where he would croon Buddy Holly songs into his mother’s hairbrush. Even then he showed indications of an exceptional voice and, more surprising, a wellspring of emotion that nourished his approach to melody and lyrics.
He’s come a long way since those days back in Paducah, Kentucky. Building on a foundation of ’50s R&B and classic country music, Johnathan has broadened his range, vocally and stylistically. He shed the last shreds of his shyness through years of performing, first with the acclaimed vocal quartet Blend and then as a solo artist. Whether on a spacious stage or in someone’s backyard, he knows how to leave his fans satisfied and yet hungry for more.
Johnathan was first moved deeply by a particular song at age 5. “I was watching TV when Back To The Future came on,” he says. “When Michael J. Fox goes across the stage with his Gibson ES-345 guitar, playing ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Years later, while attending John A. Logan Junior College in Carterville, Illinois, Johnathan auditioned for a student doo-wop group. He got the gig and soon they debuted at a regional talent show. “I was living my dream,” he smiles. “We were doing ‘Come Go With Me’ by the Del-Vikings. I could tell that the stage floor was kind of slick, so when I hit that high note on ‘you never give me a chance,’ I slid across the stage on my knees. Man, I was Michael J. Fox! That got me out of my shyness — and now you can’t get me to close my mouth!”
That group, whose name was Blend, kept performing after college. Bookings poured in, to the point that Johnathan gave up his job as an elementary school teacher to perform full-time. One day in 2013 they drove into Columbus, Ohio, to showcase at the Ohio Fair Managers’ Association Convention. After exiting the stage, he saw and introduced himself to country superstar Ronnie McDowell. Later, in a nearby small hallway, when McDowell idly began singing the Platters’ “Only You,” Blend impulsively joined him on harmony parts. Within two months they had signed on as McDowell’s backing singers on the road and for his next recording date in Nashville.
“Ronnie told us, ‘Y’all are like the modern-day Jordanaires.’ What was even cooler was that when we were cutting our backing vocals, Ray Walker from the Jordanaires came into the studio and sang with us!”
For all the success coming their way, Blend dissolved due to family and other obligations. As their lead singer and emcee, Johnathan was able to continue as a solo artist. The sensitive lyrics and soaring melody of his first single, “You Will Never Leave My Mind,” gave him an ideal showcase for his artistry. It was, in Johnathan’s words, “a game changer for me, even as an unsigned artist.”
He’s released a number of singles, a self-titled album and given hundreds of shows since then. When the pandemic hit, Johnathan switched to Facebook Live concerts and then started driving out on weekends to surprise fans with solo shows on their front porches or in their backyards.
His most recent project is the single and video for “A Woman Like That,” from JOHNATHAN LEN, released in late 2020. The clip was filmed on Corpus Christi’s North Beach. It’s a tale of yearning and finding love, set to an upbeat country groove and starring locals recruited by Johnathan himself.
We know that Johnathan has a lot of heart. You can hear it in his voice and in the songs he writes and records in that style he calls “inspired by traditional country with a modern twist.” Clearly, more people of all ages and tastes will discover that Johnathan Len speaks and sings for us all.