With a big voice and a charming personality, ASU alumna Keia Calandre’ Johnson started her music journey after she won over the American Idol judges in the 2009 Atlanta auditions. Simon Cowell said he liked her, and Kara DioGuardi thought she was very genuine and had an amazing personality. ”When Mary J. Blige threw up her hands and told me I was on to Hollywood during the auditions for American Idol, I knew it was time to pursue my dream full-time. This is my journey,” Johnson said on her website. Johnson has always been a huge fan of Blige. ”I looked up to Mary J. Blige ever since she came out when I was still in elementary school. We didn’t know that she was going to be part of the judges until the day before the auditions, if that wasn’t nerve wracking enough,” Johnson said. ”For her to think I am talented, it was a huge thing for me,” she added. As an RTV undergraduate student at ASU, Johnson received first runner up for the Miss Black and Gold pageant, won the Miss Essence pageant and became the third African American to win the Miss ASU crown. ”I woke up one day and I decided to do Miss ASU. I wanted to challenge myself. My motto was ‘If you can believe it, you can achieve it,’” Johnson said. Winning Miss ASU, led her to compete in the Miss Arkansas pageant and become a preliminary to Miss America, which earned her the Miss Congeniality Award. ”I truly try to be true to myself and go with my gut feeling,” she said. After graduating in 2004, Johnson was offered a job at a radio station in Memphis. ”Radio was my love,” she said. “I always wanted to be an on-air personality. But at that time, almost all radio stations were turning into syndication. That tradition of having a prominent radio voice seems to be going away.” Johnson worked at the radio station in the marketing department until deciding one day to audition for American Idol. ”I found out where they were having the auditions, and it happened to be in Atlanta. It was a long process, but I ended up on the show twice,” she said. Getting eliminated from the contest didn’t stop Johnson from continuing to follow her dream. Johnson decided to release her own music album titled “T.I.M.E.” ”I have five songs, and they are very completely different songs. Anyone that had a dream to be a politician, a painter or a teacher and has been trying to accomplish this dream, and it has been hard; I have a song for that. If you went through a relationship and didn’t have the bitterness afterwards, I got a song that people can identify with. I have something for everyone,” Johnson said. Johnson wrote and co-wrote three of the songs on the album, which were all recorded exclusively in Memphis. ”I did everything in Memphis. I really wanted to show that Memphis is able to produce quality artists, sounds, songs and production. I really wanted to showcase Memphis in that light.” She took that advice after meeting Tony Award winning actress Jennifer Holliday. ”We were both sitting on a council for young women here in Memphis. She told me every person leaves their city and runs to New York or runs to L.A. in hopes of becoming a big star but she told me ‘You should be the biggest person in whatever city you are in and people will come to you’.” Johnson’s musical influences include: Holliday, Blige, Celine Dion, Kanye West and Jay-Z. For the future, Johnson is shooting a music video. She wishes to continue pursuing her music dream while never forgetting where she came from. ”Education is always important, I can proudly say that I am not a dumb artist, I have a degree. ASU was a great experience for me, I am proud to be part of the ASU alumni,” Johnson said. Johnson’s album can be bought via her website contactkeia.com.