Puff Johnson: Forever More
Ewanya Johnson was probably not the best name for the big time, so Ewanya used her childhood nickname of “Puff” and that did the job. Puff was born in Detroit in December 1972 and trained as a singer and a dancer as a young girl. She was signed to Motown Records at the age of 13 but never progressed this. After leaving school, Puff got her break working on the video for New Kids On The Block‘s 1990 smash, “Step By Step”. She featured as a backing singer and later as a guest vocalist for artists ranging from Christopher Williams to Tupac Shakur. Puff and Tupac recorded the song “Me Against The World” for the soundtrack of the 1995 film ‘Bad Boys’ and it was here the Puff was recognised and signed to Work Records.
It would be the movies that launched Puff Johnson’s career as a singer in her own right when she recorded “Over And Over” for the soundtrack of the 1996 film ‘The First Wives Club’. Although “Over And Over” was only a small success in America (it made No.118) international audiences fell in love with the song. It reached the top twenty in the UK and The Netherlands and the top ten in Norway, among other countries. “Over And Over” was not Puff’s debut single in her home country, that honour had gone to the gorgeous R&B ballad “Forever More”, which peaked at No.63 and No.31 on the R&B chart. The song became the follow up to “Over And Over” internationally and made the top thirty in the UK and in Australia, preceding her debut album, “Miracle”. Puff worked with pop royalty on the album, including among others Narada Michael-Walden, Walter Afanasieff, Jermaine Dupri and Keith Thomas.
The album saw limited success worldwide and featured one further single, “All Over Your Face”, before Puff slipped away from the limelight. She toured with Michael Jackson and 3T in 1997 as the opening act on the Stateside leg of his world tour and following this became an in-demand songwriter, delaying her own second studio album by some years to concentrate on this new career. She became engaged to producer Alarza Lee “Kip” Collins Jr. at this time, although he was tragically killed in a motorbike accident in 2006. Puff relocated to South Africa and returned to stage performing in 2009 with the announcement that she was at last writing material for herself for the follow up to “Miracle”. Sadly, this never materialised as Puff was diagnosed with cervical cancer and despite a brave battle, she succumbed on 24th June 2013 aged just 40 years old. Her career was so lamently brief but the music she has afforded us will most definitely live forever more. RIP Puff.