Sunday, October 28, 2012

Manipal Dubai student, Jessica Johnson rated as Emirates top indie artist on popular website for  independent musicians ReverbNation.  Photo courtesy: Sanjeewa Marasinghe

With her passion and love for music, Evangeline Jessica Johnson has come a long way since she started playing the guitar and singing when she first joined Manipal University, Dubai in 2009.

Learning how to play the guitar is not as simple as it may seem and this didn’t stop Jessica from wanting to master the instrument. Jessica initially took it up as a challenge to prove her friends wrong, for she was told only boys could play the guitar "well". 

"One day when I was jamming with my musician friends in college, a guy told me that I could never play like him. So I took it up as a challenge and tried my best to play the guitar as best I could."

With everything on the internet nowadays, Jessica took to learning guitar techniques from several tutors online rather than attending and paying for music lessons at a local center. 

Using social media as stepping stone, Jessica translated what she learnt into covers, that is duplicating popular songs but in her own unique style. She soon began writing her own songs, playing and uploading it online onto her own YouTube channel.

Watch: "Paint" - an original composition sung by Jessica Johnson

And with four years of self training, patience and dedication, Jessica is now the top rated Indie artist in the U.A.E. on ReverbNation, a website that helps independent musicians get recognition.

Holding the title for a little over two months now, Jessica finds that it has helped her attain international recognition and allowed her to receive valuable feedback from various experienced artists. 

Besides taking the stage for several intra and inter college music competitions and festivals, Jessica has been part of voice choirs and has performed with American singer, songwriter, pastor and producer of Christian Worship Music, Don Moen allowing her to broaden her experience as a musician. 

It doesn't stop there, the creative 22 year old has also joined an alternative and experimental rock band that goes by the name of "Only Child". With her on the vocals, the band comprises of Joshua Joseph (Lead/Keys) Ron אָמָן Chikodi (Bass), Ziad Baig (Drums/Percussion) and Nithin Sasikumar (Rhythm/Producer). 

They have produced their first original single, "Roads not travelled" this week - which not only sounds promising but are clear signs that they will grow stronger as a young local band. 


With absolutely no background of any musicians in her family, she draws inspiration from renowned musical icons such as Mariah CareyWhitney HoustonCeline Dion, P!nk and Orianthi

When asked if she would make music, a full time career in the near future, she disagrees saying that she never intends to make it a career but would like to limit it to a full time hobby. 

“I wouldn't mind making music a side career, but I don't intend on pursuing it full-heartedly. Being an Indian with a passion for western music, I don't really get many opportunities, but when I do, I make sure I grab them. I put a good education before passion, once I complete my post graduation, I intend to get a PhD and it'll be wonderful if I can manage both music and a professional career simultaneously.”

Currently in her first year of postgraduate study pursuing Media and Communications at Manipal University, Dubai she foresees her future in three years to be a happily settled one, with a family to take care of. Jessica hopes to continue to play and pass down her love and passion for music, for it's a treasured value she will always hold dear to her heart. 

By Christine Cherian

The writer is a first year postgraduate student pursuing MA Media and Communications in Manipal University, Dubai.