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Betty Johnson

Singer Betty Johnson got her start with the Johnson Family Singers, a gospel group which included Betty's parents and three brothers (lasting from 1938 throughout the '40s). The Johnson Family Singers enjoyed success down South, due to the group being broadcast daily on WBT radio in Charlotte, NC, and the CBS network. Despite several recordings for the RCA-Victor and Columbia labels (as well as an appearance at the famed Grand Old Opry), the Johnson Family Singers broke up in the '50s. Betty eventually relocated to New York City, where she appeared regularly on radio (on Sunday evenings singing with the CBS Orchestra, as well as on Saturday mornings on the Galen Drake Show).

In 1954, Johnson joined the Csida-Grean management company, who at the time handled such big names as Eddy Arnold and Bobby Darin. This led to Johnson enjoying her first hit in November of 1954, "I Want Eddie Fisher for Christmas," but it was "I Dreamed" (issued two years later) that would become Johnson's biggest hit. Further hits followed, including "I'll Wait," "Clay Idol," "Little White Lies," "1492," "The Little Blue Man," "Dream," and "Hoopa Hoola." She appeared on programs hosted by Bob Newhart, Jack Benny, and Perry Como, as well as such TV shows as The Ed Sullivan Show and Jack Paar's Tonight Show, and was hired as a spokeswoman for Borden dairy products.

A recording contract with Atlantic followed shortly thereafter, resulting in a pair of full-length albums, 1958's self-titled debut and 1959's Songs You Heard When You Fell in Love, as Johnson shifted her focus to pop standards. Upon marrying in 1964, Johnson retired from music, as she raised two daughters and shied away from the spotlight. But almost 30 years later, in 1993, Johnson returned to performing, at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. Johnson continued to perform into the 2000s, as her act drew from her early days as a member of the Johnson Family Singer, as well as her solo hits. Johnson began issuing albums on a regular basis again in the '90s, including such titles as Family Affair, Soft Lights, Sweet Music, In the Garden, and My Heart Sings, among others. ~ Greg Prato
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