As women, we wear so many different hats, or in the case of this feature – shoes! This month we were able to catch up with Erika Johnson, an extraordinary woman with so much love, passion and talent!
I met Erika years ago through a mutual friend, and loved her immediately. The Erika I originally met was the jazz singer, and I was blown away by her amazing pipes! Wow is about all I can say about her vocal talent! Over the years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know the educator, the counselor, the community leader and the woman! Her students love her because they know she loves them and believes in them. Her friends love her because she is, well, a hell of a lot of fun! I’m going to share just a few experiences I have enjoyed with Erika, to give you a glimpse into the depth of her character!
CD cover from “Erika Revealed”
When my children were in grade school, Erika was very involved with 4-H – she worked very hard to bring “head, heart, hands and health” back into the lives of youth. She helped kids, mine included, realize the importance of citizenship, leadership responsibility and life skills.
Ms. Johnson in the classroom
Ten years ago, Erika signed up to shave her head for St. Baldrick’s – a non-profit organization that raises money to fund grants for research and treatments to eradicate children’s cancer. At the time, Erika had waist-length dreadlocks. With the help of her students, Erika raised an incredible amount of money and bravely took the stage. As you might imagine, she was a show-stopper!
Erika's before and after shots from St. Baldrick's Childhood Cancer Fundraiser
Just recently, Erika put together a group called the “Gemini Project.” Imagine five of the most incredibly talented musicians all sharing birthdays within days of each other! Then imagine all of them performing together! It was magical and I was fortunate enough to have attended the event.
This Friday, March 26, Erika will be performing at Open Air, a concert series presented by Kranzberg Arts Foundation featuring St. Louis’ finest musicians.
To learn more about this and to get tickets, click here: https://www.metrotix.com/events/detail/open-air-concert-series
You can follow Erika on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/erika.johnson.792197 to find out when and where she will be performing.
But, without further ado, let’s learn more about Erika, in her own words!
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN EDUCATION?
My mother and father were excellent teachers. They accidentally inspired me. I went to undergrad for business and started working with children part time while in school. I immediately fell in love with watching kids grow and learn and it completely changed my life. Teaching became my new passion and now I take pride in every student I teach.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A PERFORMER?
My father taught English at Lincoln Senior High school in East Saint Louis, Ill. The Jazz Big Band was a highlight of the school under the direction of Ron Carter and these kids would travel all over the world to play because they were that good. Every year they would have a Spring and Winter concert. These concerts would bring the entire community together to see these kids with amazing talent play. My father would take me to the concerts and I remember wishing one day that I could get a chance to sing with a band like that. I transferred to Lincoln my 10th grade year and finally got my chance. Singing in front of that big band changed the course of my life. Jazz became the center of my world after that.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
No day for me is typical. It can change suddenly. There are days when I get the opportunity to move slowly but most of the time my schedule fluctuates and I have to be prepared for all situations. Some require flats and some require heels. I can go from the stage to the board room, and from the boardroom to the classroom in the course of four hours.
HOW DOES YOUR CHOICE OF FOOTWEAR IMPACT YOUR LIFE?
Footwear has become more important the older that I get. I sang in high heel shoes for years. Over time, it has taken a toll on my ankles and my feet. I also have flat feet so standing for long periods of time strains my back and legs. It had been a struggle to find the right shoe.
HAVE YOUR FOUND YOUR SHOE WANTS/NEEDS HAVE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS, AND IF SO, HOW?
As I have gotten older, my choices for shoes have become limited. It's difficult to find shoes that are comfortable and look good on stage. I had been investing in cowboy boots because I felt they would be somewhat stylish while I performed. When I discovered Walking Cradle, it was a total game changer.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE WALKING CRADLES SHOES YOU ARE WEARING IN THESE PHOTOS?
These shoes are absolutely comfortable and from the moment I put them on, I felt fun, flirty and cute. I can move around and stand for long periods of time with complete confidence. I could finally sing comfortably. As a performer, when you feel your best, you perform better. As a teacher, the work day goes a lot smoother and improves your mood when you are your best self from the bottom up, feet first. My smile was genuine because my feet felt great. It's so much easier to smile when your feet feel pleasant.
WHAT IS A MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH EVERYONE (ABOUT ANYTHING)?
Take good care of yourself. You deserve to feel good. Start by treating yourself well. Make that change that you have been putting off. The first step is the most important. Take your first step in comfort and confidence. Walking Cradles have allowed me to make that first step towards feeling attractive on stage and comfortable in my classroom again. I can't wait to see where this next step leads.
We are so grateful to Erika for being part of “Shoes for All Walks of Life.” Thank you for joining us to learn more about the women who wear Walking Cradles and their multi-faceted lives. We will feature a different fabulous female each month and we hope you look forward to reading their stories as much as we enjoy working with them. Although, is it really work when you love what you do so much and get to spend time with such amazing people?!
Until next time...
Comments will be approved before showing up.