Maribeth Johnson

The music industry is filled with great voices, but not everyone has something to say. Maribeth Johnson is blessed with a soaring, powerful voice capable of profound emotion, teeming with passion and intensity. Yet it’s not just her sound that has impact, it’s the weight of her words.
On her new album, Frame, Maribeth chronicles her journey from heartbreak to hope and delivers a collection of songs that are sometimes playful, often poignant and ultimately compelling due to her transparency. Whether serving up the light-hearted “Ten Pounds,” which takes a humorous look at her longtime battle with weight, or reaching deeper with a message of how to make changes in your life and overcoming fear in the songs “Welcome Change” and “Break Through,” Maribeth delivers slice-of-life songs that are relatable.

A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Maribeth developed a love for music as a child. “I’ve been playing the piano since I was six,” she recalls. “I’ve loved music all my life. I had a dream to be the next Amy Grant and go on the road.”
After high school, Maribeth moved to Nashville looking to make that dream a reality. She attended Belmont University and immersed herself in the music scene. “I just fell in love with the town, fell in love with everything around me and was having the time of my life,” she says with a big smile. “I was learning so much and got involved with all the extracurricular groups at Belmont.”
Maribeth credits her dad for encouraging her to get her degree in education rather than performance, and during a student teaching stint at a local high school, a chance meeting with a handsome young piano player changed her life.  She enlisted him to play a couple gigs and a romance blossomed. After three months of knowing him, she and Jeremy dated one month, got engaged, and in less than a year they were married. The newlyweds recorded a duet album as the group “Choir of Two,” and began performing at local coffee houses and churches. Jeremy began garnering attention for his songwriting skills and signed a publishing deal with LifeWay Songs. Over the years his songs have been recorded by a variety of artists including Michael W. Smith, Michael English, Brian Free and Assurance, American Idols Elliott Yamin and Scotty McCreery, and the recent NBC Voice winner Danielle Bradbery. He is also blessed to be writing children’s music and most recently has been co-writing and co-producing all of the VBS music for LifeWay. His songwriting and producing gifts are the foundation for Frame.  
Maribeth has always enjoyed nurturing other young talents and ended up using her education degree after all and became a music teacher as the couple settled into married life.  “I was instilling a passion for music in kids and mentoring them,” she says. “I loved it! I felt like I was gifted at it and that was my calling.  I still had that burning desire at times to do my own thing, but I knew that God wanted me to be teaching at that point in my life, and to pour my love for music and everything I had into those kids.”
As much as she loved working with youngsters, Maribeth began feeling God tug at her, prompting her to focus on her own music again. She started getting involved with studio work around town singing on numerous choral and demo sessions, and it was at her home church, Brentwood Baptist that her minister of music reached out to her and Jeremy and began mentoring them giving them opportunities to lead worship in their own church. After many years at Brentwood Baptist, the couple felt called to go and be a part of the south campus of Brentwood Baptist at The Church at Station Hill.  They are now actively involved in the worship ministry there and God is using their talents in many ways.
Maribeth’s stunning voice began attracting attention and yet as opportunities increased, she found herself searching her heart trying to discover what God wanted her to communicate. She threw herself into a variety of endeavors. She and Jeremy devoted themselves to eradicating the debt they’d accumulated when they had financed their first album right out of college. Knowing she wanted to start a family, Maribeth also focused on getting her weight under control. She auditioned for NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” and out of hundreds of thousands of applicants she ended up being in the top 100 for Season 10. After a grueling nine-month interview process, it was a simple rejection email letting her know that she didn’t make the show that caused her to completely change her mindset and focus. She ended up losing the weight on her own and has even completed two half-marathons. “At the time I was really disappointed because I thought this would be the platform that God was going to use to allow me the opportunity to share my story.”  But it was in November of that year that she found out she was pregnant with her son, Keyes. “Had I been out in LA filming the show and not at home, Keyes would not be here today,” she says. “God knew that I had the power within me to make the change on my own and He ultimately had a better plan for me and that is now a part of my testimony.”
Little did Maribeth know that a difficult season was approaching that would break her heart and yet ultimately give her a platform to reach people with a message of hope and triumph. When Maribeth was 17 weeks pregnant with their second child, a daughter they named Abbie Ann, the couple received the devastating news that she had Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome), and doctors informed them her diagnosis was “incompatible with life.”  Maribeth recalls getting the phone call from their doctor. “The day that we found out the news about Abbie Ann, it was our 13th wedding anniversary and also the same day that Scotty McCreery released his press release saying that ‘Christmas in Heaven’, one of Jeremy’s songs, was his favorite song on his new Christmas CD. The day was filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.” A follow up visit with a maternal fetal specialist confirmed the unthinkable. “She was giving us options and she said, ‘You do have an option to terminate this pregnancy,’ and immediately we said, ‘That’s not an option. What’s plan B?’ We just knew in our hearts that Abbie was the gift that God had given us and no matter what we were going to carry her as long as we could.”
 After receiving the news, Maribeth was scheduled to lead worship at her church, but the music minister emailed her to let her know they could find someone else if needed. “He said, ‘I totally understand if you want to step down and take some time to process this news’ and she wrote him back immediately and said, ‘There’s nowhere else I’d rather be but on that platform praising Jesus,” she recalls. “It was the most amazing worship experience, so right then I knew from that moment that God was going to do something amazing with this little girl.”
At 37 weeks, two weeks prior to her planned delivery date, Abbie Ann went to be with Jesus, leaving her parents heartbroken. Yet Maribeth has found purpose in the experience. “It has been a quite a journey. And one of the amazing things is that I’ve been able to connect with so many people who have suffered infant loss, mainly women, and have had the opportunity to share what I’ve learned. God has a purpose and a plan to get you to where you need to be. Romans 8:26-28 has absolutely been my passage through this whole journey with Abbie. It was just like it was written for me during that time, so I cling to that. As it says, He does truly make all things work together for good throughout your journey and life.”
Maribeth knows God has orchestrated her every step from giving her a husband who is not only a great father, but also an incredible songwriter to providing her with a platform and a story to tell. The songs on Frame serve as snapshots of key moments on her incredible journey. The tender ballad “Remember You” is among the album’s many highlights. “Everybody has at one time had a struggle, a loss, whether it’s financial or work or cancer or whatever it is,” she says, “and they’ve had people that have surrounded them and loved them and supported them through it all. This song is a thank you from the person who has experienced that. It’s one of those songs that is special because I want to dedicate this message to everybody who has been there for me, on every part of my journey. I know that people who hear this song and have been where I have been are going to feel the same way.”
“Where Life Begins” is a song that is having tremendous impact. “I actually had the opportunity to sing this song at a pregnancy center fundraising banquet,” Maribeth says.  “In a room of 250 people, you could hear a pin drop. It was one of those moments where I knew that this song was special and something powerful was going to happen with it. It’s very special to me in the sense that we know how people can be blessed and how your life can be changed from making a certain decision and ultimately making the right decision.”
In listening to Frame, it’s readily apparent that Maribeth Johnson is blessed with an amazing voice, a rich soulful instrument that makes any song an experience, but more importantly she has something important to say. “It’s a message of hope, a message of perseverance,” she says. “I just want people to know that in His time, God can help to heal. Abbie Ann’s story became a blessing when people were able to witness how we could pick up those pieces and move on because God gave us the strength to do so. We have to trust Him that He walked us through that journey because He intended to turn it into something good. I’m excited to see what He is going to do next.” 
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