There are many attributes that can make a performer in the field of music stand out: vocal delivery, stage presence, image, you name it. For Maryland native Calen Johnson, it has always been his choice to wear an Asian coolie similar to the one worn by the Mortal Kombat character Raiden (a personal gesture to show his appreciation of the Asian culture). This one action has proven to be a successful marketing tool for the singer, rapper, songwriter, instrumentalist, producer and actor known in the city of Atlanta’s independent music scene as Lyrical Preacher.
The best part is that LP backs it up with well over fifteen years’ worth of experience performing on stage (and on camera—you can see his acting side on ‘The Wire’, ‘Homicide: Life On the Street’, ‘America’s Most Wanted’, and Oprah Winfrey’s movie ‘Beloved’), displaying his power to grab your attention with his stage presence, lyrical and vocal ability, and empowering lyrics. Before the end of the day, you will know and never forget who “That dude with the Raiden hat” is.
Born into a family where music was the center of each household—with a conga player for a grandfather, a drummer for an uncle, and a vocalist for a cousin—LP grew up with music in his bones. His love for being the center of attention showed at every get-together and birthday party, even at school where his peers would always ask him to perform a Michael Jackson song (he was and still is an avid fan of the late King of Pop). As the culture and music of Hiphop began to make its rise in the music industry, there is no doubt that this made a huge impact on LP’s decision to venture into music years later.
His official introduction to music performance was through learning the saxophone in the sixth grade and piano in the seventh grade, instruments he still plays to this day. He continued his saxophone training throughout middle and high school, performing in concert band, marching band and stage band. During this period he dabbled into music composition and learned how to write his own music, through the combination of theory classes and his own self-teaching. At age 13 he was recording his own demos and ideas, with the encouragement and support of his father backing him up.
Though he also showed interest in singing and rapping—having written his first rap song in seventh grade—LP’s desire to fully pursue music as a career did not take place until 1999 after writing a heartfelt poem inspired by the Columbine High School shooting incident, which he shared during a broadcast of his high school’s morning news. The unanimous love and support he received from both peers and teachers helped solidify that desire, encouraging him to begin work on songs for his Gospel and Holy Hiphop effort, ‘God’s Time.’
The music training continued for LP at Morehouse College, majoring in Music and participating in the “House of Funk” marching band and concert band ensembles, even serving as one of the marching band’s student arrangers. It was during this timeframe that he formed his first two music companies, T.I.N. 152 Productions and Nelac Publishing, and released his ‘God’s Time’ project on his 21st birthday in 2004, performing at campus event around the Atlanta area and promoting the self-produced project. LP would later move back to Maryland after graduating from Morehouse in 2005 and continue his marketing efforts.
However, after several challenges and temporary defeats during his 2-year stay back home, he began showing disinterest in showcasing himself as merely a “Gospel” artist. Feeling as if he was pigeonholing his talent, he wanted to do more than reach out to an audience that listens to just Gospel music. This is where the concept of his current music style dubbed “Life Music” was birthed—touching on life-based situations to which people of various backgrounds can relate, with no genre barriers music-wise. Through a chance management partnership with Atlanta-based Majorsmart Entertainment in 2007, LP moved back to Georgia to further develop his sound and pursue his career in the new music Mecca. Since then he has garnered a reputation as a stellar performer who commands the stage, received co-signs from radio personalities, hosts, industry DJ’s, super producers and Hiphop legends alike for his life-changing music, and released his second project, ‘Life Music Vol. 1’, with work currently underway on the second installment.
LP has shared the stage with a variety of acts such as Canton Jones, The Temptations, KRS-ONE, Chuck D (Public Enemy), MC Shan, B.o.B., Yelawolf, Shawty Lo, DJ Unk (Oomp Camp), Divinity Roxx (bassist for Beyonce), Joi (Dungeon Family), Young Dirty Bastard, Lil Chuckee (formerly of YMCMB), Princess (formerly of Crime Mob), Dres tha Beatnik, Headkrack (Ricky Smiley Morning Show), and many others. He continues to wow new generations of music listeners and his core fanbase (dubbed the Humanoids) with his enthusiam, and has no plans on stopping as he executes his plans to further his influence outside Georgia, with his hometown being a major area of dominance.
Lyrical Preacher has proven himself to be a force to reckon with. And we can expect nothing less than the best from that Morehouse Man with the Master Plan.