Elder Anderson Johnson spent his career preaching and playing his steel guitar on the streets of America. He made a fine record of “God Don’t Like It” and others back in the 1958 in Miami, Florida, for the Angel, Glory and Deluxe labels. He eventually settled in Newport News, Virginia where he built his church and became a respected outsider artist. His paintings were mainly of women’s faces. He loved to play his steel guitar and sing but was also a fine pianist and drummer.
How We Helped:
Elder Anderson Johnson officially became a Music Maker artist in 1996. Music Maker provided him with a monthly stipend for prescription medicine, and helped fixed the roof on his home. He is featured in the 2004 publication Music Makers: Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America.
Axel Kustner, Eleanor Ellis and Tim Duffy recorded Johnson’s music in October of 1994.
“I was born in June 1, 1915, 70 miles outside of Richmond, out in the country on the farm. My mother’s friend had a guitar and I took an interest in music at the age of 6 years old. They would not let me play it but I would go by and hit the strings. After I started preaching at 8, I came down here to Newport News. I used to shine shoes in front of a barber shop, that is when I made enough money to buy my first guitar. I sat down and played and made so much noise that my mother ran me out of the room and I had to go and hide someplace to play. I have been in church all of my life. I started preaching at 8 and before that I heard my mother praying and crying and I would get right behind her and start praying. I never drank or smoked in my life. I traveled all over the United States with the church. I believe in the Holiness. I base my preaching on Hebrew 12:14. To follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man can see the Lord. This is what I base my faith on. I never tried to build churches, I try to build my faith. That is what has gotten me through, my faith. I have never been in trouble in my life, because my faith has kept me going.”
Anderson Johnson passed away in 1998.