Biography

Johnette Downing is a New Orleans multi-award winning musician, singer and author presenting Louisiana Roots concerts and author visits for children, as well as keynotes and workshops for educators globally. Dedicated to celebrating childhood, nurturing cultural exchanges and fostering literacy through her music and books, Johnette has performed in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, Central America, North America and the Caribbean. Johnette’s presentations speak to a child’s interests in an engaging, interactive, thought-provoking, educational, entertaining and culturally respectful way; earning her a reputation for being the “Musical Ambassador to Children” and the “Pied Piper of Louisiana Music Traditions.” 

Johnette performs family concerts as a solo artist, as a duet with her Grammy Award winning husband Scott Billington, or as an ensemble with her “Swamp Romp Band.” 

Downing has garnered multiple awards including eight Parents’ Choice Awards, four iParenting Media Awards, two Parent’s Guide To Children’s Media Awards, four National Parenting Publications Awards, a Family Choice Award, two Family Review Center Award, Family Review Center Gold Award, Family Review Center Best of the Year Award, an Imagination Award and a Haiku International Association Honorable Mention Award. Her work has received rave reviews on Grammy.com and in Nick Jr. Magazine, Family Fun Magazine, Parenting Magazine, Parent’s Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, American Library Association’s Booklist, School Library Journal, Washington Post, Early Childhood News, Cookie Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, New Orleans Magazine and Big Apple Parent to name a few. Further, she was selected as one of “The Women of the Year 2008” by New Orleans CityBusiness Magazine, “Thirty People to Watch in 2000” by New Orleans Magazine and “Forty Under Forty” by Gambit Weekly Magazine.

In addition to her work as a children’s performer, Downing is an author and poet. Based on one of her songs, Johnette’s picture book and board book Today Is Monday In Louisiana takes young readers through a culinary calendar describing a delicious Louisiana meal for each day of the week. Her counting book and song Down in Louisiana teaches young readers about Louisiana animals and their habitats. Her book and song My Aunt Came Back from Louisiane offers readers a Louisiana geography lesson as the Aunt travels across the state bringing back something special from each town visited. In her book and song Chef Creole, Johnette introduces readers to a savory Chef who is made out of delectable New Orleans dishes. Johnette’s book Why the Crawfish Lives in the Mud is an original trickster tale teaching the moral – what goes around, comes around. Today is Monday in Texas, Today is Monday in New York, and Today is Monday in Kentucky follow the Today is Monday in Louisiana series, giving readers a culinary calendar of traditional foods by state. Downing’s other picture books with Pelican Publishing Company include There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Bugs, The Amazon ABC’s, Why the Oyster Has the Pearl, Why the Possum Has a Large Grin and How to Dress a Po’ Boy, Macarooned on a Dessert Island, The Fifolet, Louisiana, the Jewel of the Deep South and Down in Mississippi.  She also has two board books with River Road Press titled Ten Gators in the Bed and Bugs on the Rug. Additionally Johnette has an eBook with Silver Lining Press titled The Colors of the Sky, and a wetlands preservation picture book, in partnership with the Audubon Nature Institute and the New Orleans Pelicans NBA team, titled Petit Pierre and the Floating Marsh.  

Co-founder of the New Orleans Haiku Society, Johnette’s haiku have appeared in numerous haiku journals, anthologies and books.

Downing is listed on the Southern Artistry Registry, Louisiana Artist Roster and the Louisiana Touring Directory.

Artist Statement

I continually strive to write and perform engaging, child-centered, thought provoking, family friendly, entertaining and educational music that respects the sophistication and intelligence of today’s children. My greatest musical influences come from being fortunate enough to be born in Louisiana, the birthplace of Dixieland Jazz, Jazz, Cajun, Creole and Zydeco music. These rich musical influences along with Afro-Caribbean rhythms are my muse and inspire my songwriting.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my parents, my siblings and me standing in the doorways of Jazz clubs in the French Quarter and listening to Dixieland Jazz. I want to share music with children the way my parents shared it with me at such a young age. I perform music for children because I love it, I respect children, I like making children laugh and think, I want to share my musical culture, and I like giving children a reason to celebrate being children.

Writing and performing music and books for children has been a passion of mine since 1988.

Mission Statement

Celebrate the joy of childhood through music and literature.