Careers: Sound designer/mixer Kenneth L. Johnson
Michele McAuley
Issue: November 1, 2018

Careers: Sound designer/mixer Kenneth L. Johnson

Kenneth L. Johnson is an accomplished, multi award-winning supervising sound designer/mixer and entrepreneur. I first met Johnson during a sound session for a short film. He walked into the room with a slow, cool and confident stride - an Artistry in Sound baseball cap sitting atop his head. During subsequent conversations, I became immediately drawn to his story.  

Johnson was born in Prichard, Alabama - one of nine children. He grew up in South Central LA amidst drugs, guns and gang violence. Despite all of these challenges and struggles, he was able to find his way out.  

Johnson discovered his passion and first love: music. He built his own bass guitar and learned to play it. He would go on to play in several local bands and subsequently went on tour, performing for Army bases at their NCO Clubs in Korea, Hawaii, Alaska and California.
He later attended the recording school Hollywood Sound Arts, as well as Long Beach City College, where he studied Recording Engineering and Music Production. After several years as a recording engineer, he was introduced to J.R. Delange, then SVP at Todd-AO. Delange had him attend a weekend class in sound editing at Todd-AO. Three years later, in 1995, he received his first big break as a sound effects editor on the television show Melrose Place. The opportunity was life altering and ultimately began a long and successful journey in audio post.

Johnson won his first Primetime Emmy in 1997, as an Outstanding Sound Editor on The Shining. A few years later, in 1999, he received his next Emmy for The Storm of the Century, and then again in 2008 for John Adams. His work also garnered him Golden Reel Awards and International Monitor Awards, as well as numerous nominations.  

In 2005, Johnson became an entrepreneur and incorporated his own company, Artistry in Sound. He recently opened a new state of the art Facility in Burbank, CA, which specializes in audio production for feature films, television, gaming and Web products. His goal is to always creates a unique experience using sound to help tell the filmmaker’s story.

In October, Johnson had an opportunity to share his wealth of knowledge with film students at UCLA. He focused on the significant impact sound has on film and TV to an enthused and engaged audience.   
Currently, Johnson is working on Season 2 of Black Lightning, which airs on the CW Television Network. In this series, The CW and Greg Berlanti expand the footprint of their DC Comics Universe to explore the intersection between family life and being a superhero. Johnson feels it is appropriate and noteworthy to extend a special thanks to Salim and Mara Brock Akil for the opportunity to work on the hit television show. In addition, he also points to executive producer/writer, Felicia D. Henderson, who provided her trust and support in giving him the opportunity to supervise and mix her recent projects.