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Aaron Johnson

Albany, CA   

I have been working in the music industry for over two decades as a musician, arranger, manager and educator. As a performer I have worked with artists such as Paul Simon, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Dr. John, TV on the Radio, The Roots, Alabama Shakes, Aloe Blacc, Kelis, Wu-Tang Clan and Public Enemy, among others. I have recorded on Grammy-winning albums by Angelique Kidjo and Bruno Mars as well as many other records. I played and recorded extensively with Daptone and Truth & Soul Records artists Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Charles Bradley, The Menahan Street Band, El Michels Affair and The Budos Band, and was the trombonist and conductor of the Brooklyn-based Afrobeat ensemble, Antibalas from 2000 – 2013. 

Through my work in Antibalas, I was introduced to Steve Hendel and Bill T. Jones, who were conceptualizing a musical theater work based on the life of Fela Kuti, and was brought on as Musical Director of the show that would become Fela! on Broadway. I received an NAACP award as well Drama Desk and TONY Award nominations for my work as Orchestrator and Arranger on the show. 

In 2011, after 15 years of consistent touring, I decided to make a transition to the business side of the music industry in order to spend more time with my family, while still feeding my love of music. My family relocated from New York to the Bay Area where I managed and booked acts on my own and worked for The Rosebud Agency in San Francisco. I am now a part of Knitting Factory’s Management team working with such artists as The Coup, Pokey LaFarge, Debo Band, and Leyla McCalla, in addition to being Associate Artistic Manager at SFJAZZ.