Singer and performer Johnathan Len sings more than just a song. His song touches people across the world who have been impacted by Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
A native of Lone Oak, Johnathan fell in love with music at a young age. As a young child, he had a dream of being just like Michael J. Fox in “Back to the Future” as he performed “Johnny Be Good” in the hit film. Johnathan had a fiery passion for old time rock and roll that was largely influenced by his family. He would use his mother’s hairbrush as a microphone and a tennis racket as a guitar as he sang and danced to rock and roll classics in his home.
Johnathan’s family quickly recognized his talent and passion for music but there was one problem — The talent boy was incredibly shy.
“I was too shy to sing and perform in front of others but my aunt and uncle figured out a solution. They would bribe me with a woman. That woman was Little Debbie. They would tell me that I could pick out any Little Debbie cake I wanted from the store after singing a song in the living room,” says Johnathan.
Johnathan’s love for music grew as quickly as he did. His mother would let him listen to all of her rock and roll albums and would take him downtown to the Paducah Summer Festival to hear music from artists including Michael Johnson and Highway 101.
“I remember one time when my mother played a song called ‘I’m With You’ by Delbert McClinton. She loved it so much that she put it on repeat one night and I listened to it over and over again all night long. When I woke up the next day for school, the song was still on repeat and I knew every word upwards and backwards.”
In fact, Johnathan’s first concert was to see Gilbert McClinton at the Executive Inn on the riverfront and it gave him an idea as he asked himself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could perform at a place like this?’”
As fate would have it, Johnathan would get the opportunity to perform years down the road. He attended college at Southern Illinois University where he joined an A cappella group called “Blend.” He learned how to sing on stage and watched his fear of performing for others fade away.
For the first time, Jonathan was showcasing his talent in front of others and people started to take notice of his talent. During a performance in Columbus, Ohio, his group sang harmony with country music singer, Ronnie McDowell.
“That was the beginning of an extraordinary journey.”
Ronnie was so impressed with “Blend” that he asked the group to perform with him at a show in Branson, Missouri and at the Carson Center in Paducah. After several successful performances, “Blend” decided to part ways and Jonathan began looking for other opportunities until he decided he wanted to take a chance and try launching a career as a solo artist.
After a performance, Jonathan heard Ronnie was in nearby Illinois performing and stopped by his show. Afterwards, Ronnie told Jonathan about a song he wrote and believed could be a hit. He asked Jonathan to listen to it and decide if he wanted to record it.
“It took me some time to think about it but I listened to the song and instantly fell in love.”
The song called “You Will Never Leave My Mind” was written Ronnie McDowell and tells the story of a couple affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.
“It hit home because I had loved ones and friends who were affected by Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. That’s what the song was all about. Ronnie wrote the song with George Klein in mind. He was a legendary Memphis DJ and friend of Elvis Presley who passed away this year from complications with Dementia.”
The song has become one of Jonathan most beloved songs by his fans. One of his fondest memories is when he met a couple after a show at Grinder’s Switch. The couple had never heard of Jonathan until they heard him sing a song on the radio that spoke to them both. The gentleman’s wife was diagnosed with the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and this song had formed a special place in both of their hearts.
“So many people are affected by Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia. My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and a devoted fan and follower lost his wife to this disease. In some way or another, I believe we all are affected by these diseases.”
“You Will Never Leave My Mind” is Jonathan’s way of touching the hearts of people who have loved ones who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia.
“All of us have things we struggle with and life is tough at times. I believe it’s my job as an entertainer to help people forget about their problems and worries during my show. I want people who attend my shows to know that they can leave their problems at the door and and enjoy a show where they can laugh or hear a song that makes them shed a tear or two. And at the end of the show, they have a great time and let their mind wander from whatever was bothering them in life if even for just a little while.”
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