#19 Heath Johnson: How Music Can Create a Culture

December 3, 2018

Seven years ago Heath Johnson played publicly at a pub for the first time in his life, and now he’s leading a community of songwriters in South Dakota whose goal is to support each other and showcase others’ talents.

Heath’s vision for South Dakota Songwriters is to make the Black Hills the Nashville of the Midwest and to become a nonprofit that encourages and promotes songwriting and songwriters in and around South Dakota.

He also hosts his own podcast, The Heath Bar, where he features guests with interesting stories and talents and provides listeners with conversations they might hear at a pub over their favorite beer.

In this episode, Heath shares his journey, how his past has shaped who is now, and how he’s using his gifts to shine a light on local talent. Heath is authentic and focused on others, and this conversation is one you don’t want to miss. “I don’t care what you’re doing, if you’re being honest with people, everyone’s attracted to that.”  Listen in below!


In this episode, you’ll hear things like:

  • How to use a hobby to start a movement in your area
  • How to have a life outside of work that helps shape a culture
  • How to create a community that is encouraging and is focused on supporting each other
  • How to know when it’s time to surround yourself with a team
  • How Heath won a Gibson guitar in the American Songwriting Magazine lyric contest in Nashville (check out the lyrics to Heath’s song and listen to the recording here!)


Favorite quotes from Heath:

  • “Songwriting is just taking some music and putting it to words you might already have.”
  • “It’s gotta be a nonprofit where our goal is promoting the artist. Period.”
  • “If any of it goes back into my pocket or someone else’s pocket, we’re missing the point.”
  • “One person can only do so much and you gotta find a team.”
  • “This is a gate, not a door, and there’s no fence.”
  • “If you create something that benefits someone to the point that they no longer need you and they’re self-sustaining, that should be your goal.”
  • “I don’t care what you’re doing, if you’re being honest with people, everyone’s attracted to that.”
  • “You’re diving into a bigger universe than you realize, so keep your eyes open, cause there’s people hiding under rocks that have some amazing talent, and if you’re not paying attention you’re gonna miss them.”


A few questions I ask Heath:

  • Where are you in the process of making the Black Hills the Nashville of the midwest?
  • After doing this for the last five years, what stands out to you that reassures you that you’re on the right path?
  • Was it hard for you to leave social work to work at Cork?
  • What is a piece of advice you would have given yourself when you started this journey?
  • What’s saving your life right now?



For more on Heath Johnson:


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