My Vegas 221 - Michelle Johnson

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A LIFE AMONGST CELEBRITIES GIVES ROOT TO A VEGAS BORN PRODUCTION COMPANY “I came to visit and never left. Now I am rooted here, and so is my business.”


rom rubbing elbows with some of the biggest names in the music business to pulling off technical production feats behind the scenes, corporate event and concert producer Michelle Johnson has made a name for herself in Las Vegas as the go-to person for one-of-a-kind experiences in entertainment. Her company, Diva Las Vegas Productions, produces outstanding, meaningful entertainment for television, conventions, corporate events, headliner concerts, and events all across the Las Vegas Strip. She is proud to be one of the few African American event producers to have high profile visibility in Las Vegas, and she is a proud winner of the National Association of Women Business Owners “Woman of Distinction” Award for her achievements in entertainment. Michelle is also an award-winning Las Vegas entertainer known as “Las Vegas’ First Lady of Jazz.” Her self-produced, sold out shows have been seen at The Smith Center in Myron’s Cabaret Jazz, The Space, and The Vegas Room. She is the 2020 Las Vegas Black Music Awards recipient of the Lena Horne Award for Musical Excellence. Her original song “I’m All In” has more than 24,000 views on YouTube. You can catch Michelle at The Vegas Room on June 17, 18, and 19th, where she will be performing her “Beatles Unplugged” tribute in honor of Paul McCartney’s 79th birthday. The dinner show will feature some of the greatest Beatles songs. For more information, visit While her production company was born from the offerings of everything that is unique and exciting about Las Vegas, Michelle herself is a transplant from New York City. She came to Las Vegas on a whim after tiring of east coast winters and a life spent on the road as a backup singer to celebrities. By the time she arrived in Vegas, she had racked up a considerable resume as a premiere New York City recording session singer and performer. She had appeared in a Broadway play, become a popular singer on the jazz circuit, toured the world with the popular nineties group P.M. Dawn, sung on records by Elton John, Boy


George, and many others, and shared a stage with Paul McCartney, Slash, Kenny Loggins, Natalie Merchant, Don Henley, and several other artists. All of this from a young lady who graduated from Yale University with a degree in English Literature and kept a paralegal day job in Midtown Manhattan to get her through the lean months in a feast or famine business. It was a glamorous, fast paced life with some wonderful highlights, but after one too many winters spent hoping for a call to tour somewhere warm and affordable for a while, Michelle let her musical partner and boyfriend at the time convince her to check out the Las Vegas music scene “for a few weeks.” That was in 1995. What started as a brief trip turned into a new life, and what started as an entertainer’s life turned into a full event production company career. So how does that happen? As Michelle explains it, “Everyone knows that creatives are right-brained, and creating has always come easily to me. But my time studying at Yale, working at law firms, and then becoming a vocal section leader, tour manager, or whatever organizing role was needed to do all the business things that come with making art made me a natural for the left-brained side of the entertainment industry. My obses-

sion with “how things get done” is as strong as my passion for actually making art, and I have never been afraid to get my hands dirty. Early on, I was very interested in what the crew was doing, how the lights worked, how the sound gear was loaded, how video was created and cued in real time, how hydraulics worked on stage, how producers and directors made things happen, and so on. I think the best leaders understand all of the mechanics that go into their business (not just the flashy CEO stuff ), and if they can learn to delegate, they will do well.” So … what makes Las Vegas the perfect place to find that synergy? “In Las Vegas, I found a way to use both sides of my brain, and I managed to stay off of the road because many shows and artists come here and hire local talent. I did do some steady house gigs or touring work