Full Name: Derek Johnson
Age: 28 Years Old
Hometown: Roselawn, Indiana
If you haven’t already, meet Derek. He’s been a worship leader in the Jesus Culture movement for the last 6 years. We’ve been honored to run alongside him as his heart and hunger for Jesus is truly inspiring. You probably first heard of Derek when he was featured on Jesus Culture Music’s “Emerging Voices” album released in the summer of 2012. Then in 2013, his worship anthem, “I Belong to You” was included as a bonus track on, “Jesus Culture with Martin Smith: Live From New York” making it a fan favorite. Derek has opened for Kim Walker-Smith on multiple “Still Believe” tours as well as several Jesus Culture band tours and has been a constant worship leader for every main Jesus Culture Conference over the last several years. He is now part of the worship pastoring team at Jesus Culture Sacramento, our local church plant. This week Jesus Culture Music had the privilege of releasing his solo debut album, “Real Love”, which reached #1 on the Christian iTunes charts.

We wanted to give you a peek inside his brain so we asked him fill out these questions with one rule: be completely honest. No token answers allowed.

  • 1. I couldn’t live without coffee.
  • 2. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is put on house slippers. 
  • 3. I feel most at peace when I’m just thinking.
  • 4. I am most grumpy when interrupted from thinking.
  • 5. If it wasn’t for a good attitude I don’t think I could function.
Ask anyone who knows Derek and they’ll tell you: the guy is a true optimist. He’s always seeing the good in others and encouraging them any chance he can. Derek has a sincere father’s heart for people and will always take the time to make someone feel valued and listened to. When you talk to him he makes you feel like he’s known you your whole life, making even the most nervous person feel comfortable. Relatable and always ready to share a very corny joke, Derek is as easy-going as they come. He’s humble, shying away from any spotlight yet when he gets behind a guitar his passion for music, worship and songwriting bleeds through the introverted exterior. Whether leading worship in a small group of 5 or for a crowd of 5,000, his vulnerability before the Lord remains, bringing with it a contagious desire to lay everything you are at the feet of Jesus. Banning Liebscher, Founder and Director of Jesus Culture and one of Derek’s spiritual mentors, says of Derek, “You can take this guy anywhere, in any crazy circumstance, in any setting, and ask him to lead worship and he does it with a smile.”

6. A perfect meal includes beef.

7. “Keep Your Love On” is a book that I would recommend to anybody.

8.In my backpack, you will always find paper, Throat Coat, in-ears, Dramamine.

9. My singer’s secret is WATER, DRINK WATER!!!

10. I could eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for every meal for the rest of my life.

Derek grew up in a family of musicians and can’t really remember a time where music wasn’t a part of his life. He’s a natural-born songwriter and always has a journal, a notebook, or a Post-It note scrawled with lyrics nearby. “Songwriting is my way to process…everything really.”, says Derek. His lyrics carry a simple truth that really draws a listener and worshipper in. His album strips things down to the real, powerful love of Jesus. That this love, above all else, is what we people are searching for. His hope for this record is that people would experience a deeper revelation of the power of God’s love. That the hopeless would see Jesus again. The the broken would find the very thing they are missing. That these songs would heal, restore and bring faith to the listener and also be a new source of worship for the church body. We here at Jesus Culture have experienced these things through listening to “Real Love” and we couldn’t be more proud of Derek. He bled his passions out for this record and lives will be impacted because of it.

“What I love about Derek’s CD is that it emphasizes the love that Jesus poured out through the cross. That might sound obvious because it’s worship music, but I love that these songs are so simply and refreshingly about Jesus. Songs that can be sung in corporate settings as well as in the secret place.” – Banning Liebscher, Founder & Director of Jesus Culture

“Derek Johnson is the real deal. He is a very talented musician with a passionate heart of worship. I’ve been waiting for this album since Derek was opening for me on the “Still Believe” tours! Get his album “Real Love” – you won’t be disappointed!” – Kim Walker-Smith, President of Jesus Culture Music

11. My television guilty pleasure is totally “SYTYCD” (So You Think You Can Dance). See, I even know the abbreviation. Thanks to my wife for showing me this amazing show. Haha.

12. I would love to travel to France or Italy the most.

13. Current album I am devouring is “Coming Up for Air” by Kodaline. Irish band = perfection. Check it out!

14. My biggest pet peeve is being rude to people. Life is too short. Smile, be patient. Surprise someone with kindness.

15. I pray my daughter gets to experience true freedom in her lifetime.

16. I wish I had more time to do everything. I’m a bit of a dreamer so I feel like I am always 5 years behind where I want to be.

17. Bath, England and Stonehenge are my favorite places I have been to so far.

18. My biggest music inspirations have been: The Beatles, Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, Glen Hansard. I’ve loved a lot of music but these have been artists I have studied and learned from as far as songwriting goes.

19. I knew I wanted to be a worship leader when I was 17 years old.

20. I am my most excited for the future because I think the Lord has an incredible plan for every person on planet earth and I get to be apart of seeing that plan come to fruition.

Buy the album

Available Now Worldwide!
Get chord charts, lyric videos and more for “Real Love” here.
Connect with Derek on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.