A singer with a wide range and a strong feeling for jazz improvisation, Ellen Johnson has thus far been as notable for her work as an educator as she has for her performing talents. Her mother had been a professional singer who played piano and her uncle had played clarinet in Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band. Johnson grew up in Chicago and studied guitar in high school but had originally planned to become a theater actress. However when she took voice lessons, she became hooked on the music, and her beautiful voice quickly became obvious. She sang in a local band and studied jazz with Willie Pickens at a music conservatory. Johnson, who lives in the San Diego area, earned a Masters degree from San Diego State University in Vocal Performance. She teaches as part of the voice faculties of the University of San Diego and the Old Globe Theatre, has been conducting voice clinics since the mid-'80s, and has performed special concerts of Duke Ellington's Sacred Music. Ellen Johnson recorded a few songs on Bob Willey's Peace Pieces CD, and then in the mid-'90s cut her debut album, Too Good to Title.