“Johnson is creating audiences that seem new to Haydn and Mozart—and doing so with concerts that are first class on every level.”
In 2005, Jeri made history as the first Black woman to win an international conducting prize when she was awarded the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship. Since then, she has continued to break barriers in Europe and the United States as the first woman or first African-American woman on the podium for many orchestras and opera companies, including the Bournemouth Symphony (UK) and the Weimar Staatskapelle. Recent conducting engagements include performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Sao Paulo Municipal Symphony Orchestra, and Santa Fe Opera. Jeri was also selected to conduct the Pulitzer Prize-winning composition Stride by Tania Leon as part of the composer's tribute for the 2022 Kennedy Center Honors performance.
Lauded by the Los Angeles Times as "a stunning, rhythmically vital conductor," Jeri is a versatile artist who is comfortable with a variety of genres and styles. Jeri has developed a reputation for offering masterful and compelling performances of contemporary repertoire and has led numerous world premieres. In the 2022–2023 season, Jeri performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, and Santa Fe Opera, and Cincinnati Symphony. Jeri makes appearances in the 2023–2024 season with Oakland Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, the National Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic, Tulsa Symphony, and Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
Jeri is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra—a model for the 21st-century American orchestra. Established in 2008, Black Pearl combines artistic excellence and cultural diversity and has been recognized nationally and internationally as a leading innovator in meaningful community engagement. Jeri’s innovative performance projects have won multiple awards, and in January 2021, she and Black Pearl had the honor of being the only orchestra in North America invited to participate in a virtual collaborative concert as part of the World Economic Forum at Davos. This inspiring event, called See Me! A Global Concert, involved filmmakers, visual artists, choirs, orchestras, and musicians from around the world.
Based upon her work with Black Pearl, Jeri established DEI Arts Consulting in 2015 as a vehicle to share the insights and results of Black Pearl’s programs through data-driven strategic and creative solutions for cultural institutions seeking to create a culture of belonging.