IMD Living Trailblazer Gospel Music Hall of Famer—“The Greatest Gospel Saxophonist in the World”— Dr. Vernard Johnson was born in Kansas City, Kansas on September 6, 1948.  He suffered from severe asthma attacks.  Despite insurmountable odds, he began playing the saxophone at age twelve.  He suffered with chronic asthma for 17 years, but at age 17, while playing a song like “Amazing Grace”, God miraculously healed Vernard of asthma.  He then vowed to play for God the rest of his life.

Dr. Vernard Johnson is the CEO & Founder of Amazing Grace International and the CEO and Founder of Vernard Johnson Concert Ministry.  He was recently inducted into the International Gospel Music Hall of Fame and received the “Lifetime Achievement Award”.  He is a pastor, a preacher of the gospel, a gospel music recording artist, a Symphony Orchestra Conductor, a Symphony Orchestra Composer, the author of two books of which his latest is “FASTING 1000’ Consecutive Days”, a song writer of over 50 songs, and most of all a soul winner. Dr. Johnson has won thousands of people to Christ through his concerts and crusades across the world.

Johnson has three earned degrees: a Bachelor of Music Education from Emporia State University, a Master of Church Music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate in Sacred Music with a minor in Theology from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (the largest seminary of any kind in the entire world); where he was the first Afro-American to receive the doctorate in music from Southwestern in 1979.  He is presently working on his second doctorate degree in Expository Preaching at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.

He has performed before over 400 million people, including Kings, Queens and Presidents of many nations such as the President of Kenya,  Haiti, Liberia, Nigeria, Coast d’Ivory, and such American Presidents as Bush, Sr., Reagan, and on two occasions, he performed before President Clinton, where his rendition of “Amazing Grace” was so moving, President Clinton wept while he played.

Throughout his career, history records Dr. Johnson’s string of accolades, accomplishments and distinguished firsts:

  • First Executive Director of the Church of God In Christ Instrumental Music Division.
  • First Gospel Music Instrumentalist to do a solo performance at the Berlin Jazz Festival
  • First Gospel Music Instrumentalist to do a solo performance—Montreal Jazz Festival
  • First to bring together over 1,000 men in Kansas City, Kansas at Memorial Hall.
  • First Gospel Music Instrumentalist to have 18 recordings on the saxophone to his credit, on such labels as Savoy and Electra Records, and presently working on his 19th.
  • First gospel music instrumentalist to personally win over 150,000 people to Christ.
  • First gospel music instrumentalist to rent 46 Convention Centers across America and to present 46 “Soul Winning Concerts” where 11,251 people gave their hearts to the Lord.
  • First to do a concert for Death Row in the state of Texas–14 were saved.
  • First to sponsor and present a Gospel Music Concert at Texas Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
  • First to organize and present a massive “Youth Prayer Breakfast” in Fort Worth, Texas where over 8,000 people attended and over 2,000 youth made commitments for Christ.
  • First solo instrumentalist inducted into the “International Gospel Music Hall of Fame”
  • Inducted into the “Black Hall of Fame for Outstanding Churchmen.”
  • Inducted into “Who’s Who in the South and Southeast”.
  • Received the Alumni of the Year Award from his Alma Mata-Emporia State University

Dr. Johnson has been married to the same beautiful woman (Betty Johnson) for over 42 years.  Dr. Johnson is truly a man of God and loves the Lord. The International Music Department salutes and honors this living trailblazer among us.