Carolyn Dawn Johnson exceeds expectations

PAUL CANTIN

, Last Updated: 9:39 PM ET

When Alberta-born country singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson's album "Room With A View" was released in the U.S. earlier this month, her main concern was she might let down the label.

"I was hoping I wouldn't disappoint them," Johnson told JAM! Music from the offices of Arista Nashville.

"I said to the label, what would be a great first week? They said 8-10,000, and I said, what if I aim for 5,000? For me, as the artist, you are thinking, if 5,000 people buy my record in one week, that's incredible."

The album is already a hit in Canada, where Johnson is up for 10 Canadian Country Music Association awards later this month. But when reports of sales for the belated stateside release were due, Johnson left instructions that she wanted to be notified immediately.

"I wish I could not care. Unfortunately, I do want to know that stuff," she concedes.

"I'm not crazy about it. It gets very stressful when everything is not going your way. I know it looks like everything is going my way, but it doesn't every week."

Fortunately, on that particular day, things were definitely going Johnson's way. "Room With A View" exceeded both her expectations and those of Arista Nashville. Her record sold just shy of 18,000 copies and entered the U.S. country retail sales chart at #8.

Johnson got the call at 6:30 a.m. at a tour stop.

"I just about died! I bounced off the walls all day."

The big launch for the album was boosted by the success of her singles "Georgia" and "Complicated" at radio and country video outlets. Moreso, Johnson guesses that her opening spot on the all-female "Girls' Night Out" country tour may have paved the way for her.

Johnson was the opening act on a bill that included Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, Sara Evans, Jamie O'Neal -- with Johnson serving as the opening act at each show with a three-song set.

And just as Johnson was concerned about letting down her label, her main concern with the tour was in not disappointing McEntire.

"The first date was Las Vegas, and I was sickly nervous," she said.

"The fact that Reba said yes to having me on the tour, I thought, it's not just about the fans. I wanted to impress (McEntire's organization) and make them proud of me. I was opening their entire thing.

"But it was the right combination for me to open up. It was perfect. I was nervous every night. But it seemed to work. I would go out there just with my guitar and do it, and it was good."

Watching experienced hands such as McEntire and McBride (for whom Johnson previous served as a backup singer) gave Johnson an up-close look at what the future may hold for her, should the success of "Room With A View" continue.

"I did get to see how (Martina) managed her life and career and family while I was on the road with her. I could be in the background and watch it. I just had to show up and do the show. I didn't have to do the press for each show and the meet-and-greets and organize your life at the same time. I got to see what it was like.

"I remember my management saying after that: So, is this what you want to do? And I said I do. I realize it is a lot of work, but it is work I love. It allows me to do what I love to do."

The demands of her own career have been so great of late, her first love -- songwriting -- has had to take a back-seat. Lately, the amount of time she can devote to writing her own songs has been cut to about one-third, although in the coming weeks, she hopes to be in Nashville for some long-delayed co-writing sessions with other artists.

She mentioned sheDAISY as one of the assignments, but also alluded to an unusual pairing -- a major arena-rock band whose frontman and guitarist are headed to Music City for some co-writing with her.

"I guess they like my music," she says of the band-which-cannot-be-named.

"They are coming to Nashville for two weeks, and they listened to a bunch of music and they are writing with six or seven different people while they are here. I'm nervous about that.

"It is hard to do it, because if I write something now, I want to hold on to it," she laughed.

"I don't have to do it. But when I get requested to do it, there are certain artists I have written with, I would not say no, because I do believe in them."


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