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Johnta Austin Talks New Album, Gives Props To Alicia Keys
Written by Ifè Oshun   

johntapubbyline by Donna Prima, interview by Ifè Oshun

26 year-old Johnta (pronounced zhan-tay) Austin is a Grammy-winning songwriter who made a name for himself penning hits such as Toni Braxton's "Just Be A Man (About It)" (2000), Aaliyah's "Miss You (I Miss You)" (2002), Mariah Carey's mega-hit "We Belong Together" (2005) and one of the biggest hits of 2006, Mary J Blige's "Be Without You."

Although a 16 year-old Austin got his songwriting start as the scribe behind Tyrese's "Sweet Lady" in 1998, he'd actually gotten his start as a singer at the age of 13 when an impromptu vocalization on the Arsenio Hall show led to a signing with RCA. Unfortunately, Austin was dropped from the label once he hit puberty and his voice changed. Ironically the new singer who took his place at RCA was Tyrese. The tenacious Austin submitted the lyrics to "Sweet Lady" and never looked back.

"I was happy to get the opportunity to write a record for Tyrese," says the Atlanta native. "I didn't know it was gonna be as successful as it was. Honestly, I felt a little bit of satisfaction to be able to look at the people who dropped me and show them what I could do."

Subsequent writing gigs found him working with a string of big names including Jermaine Dupri who recognized the scribe's vocal abilities as they worked in the studio. He signed him to So So Def in 2005 and Austin found himself coming around full circle.

"I don't think I ever stopped being an artist," revealed Austin. "I focused on the songwriting thing for so long because I knew when I got another chance to do an album, I wanted to bring more to the table."

Austin's debut Ocean Drive is due December 26 and offers lovers of R&B a soulful classic vibe that belies his youthful age.

We caught up with the prolific singer/songwriter (listen) who talked freely about his journey as an artist, working with Jermaine Dupri and his love for Alicia Keys.


  1. Johnta talks about being thought of as an "old soul" and his love for old school R&B.
  2. Johnta talks about his emotional and artistic journey.
  3. Johnta talks about why he also raps on his album.
  4. Johnta talks about working with Jermaine Dupri.
  5. Johnta talks about his admiration of Alicia Keys.
  6. Johnta offers some last words.

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